Hawkins First UMC Creates COTS: Church On The Streets
What happens when you follow God’s prompting to rejuvenate your congregation’s mission focus? Kathy Mordue shares how her congregation was inspired to ‘be the church’ – like never before.
The mission team of Hawkins First UMC had dwindled down to just Kathy Mordue, a 19-year member, and her husband. “On a particular day recently,” shares Kathy, “I turned the Christian radio station volume down while I was praying on the way into work, praying intensely about what I needed to do to encourage members of our congregation to be interested in mission field work. I had always wanted to do more local mission work, in an addition to any ministries we support internationally.” Adds Kathy, “Once I said Amen, I turned up my radio and immediately the Matthew West song titled, ‘Do Something’ started playing. I had heard the song before, but this time I HEARD IT loud and clear.”
That following Sunday, she reminded the congregation that they all had two hands, and two feet and that everyone in the church was capable of being a missionary. “This is how the idea for COTS –Church On The Street was born,” she explains. “We took ideas from one another and established a whole week of dawn-to-dusk activities serving God in our community. We had activities for every participant no matter what their abilities or challenges were, and I could feel God move through the whole church.”
Dr. Allison Byerley, pastor of Hawkins First UMC says, “We started on Friday, August 1st, helping the Hawkins-Holly Lake Ranch Rotary club assemble school supplies for their Backpack Round-up the next day, where we helped with registration and face painting. By the end of the week, I think that 75-80% of our church had participated in some way.”
A partial list of mission work done by members of Hawkins First UMC includes:
- helped deliver meals on wheels, and ate with the clients;
- made gifts for Meals on Wheels clients and delivered with the meals;
- hosted a free hot dog supper in the park and invited the whole community;
- sent prayer cards, and letters of encouragement to three new missionaries;
- made each college student a care package, and will continue this ministry throughout the year;
- took a group to The East Texas Food Bank where they worked for 4 hours, and then committed to continue this activity monthly;
- took a group of moms and children (from two needy families) shopping for new school clothes, and shoes and then out for pizza; and
- built a wheel chair ramp and did minor repairs for a needy elderly couple.
Adds Kathy, “At the end of the week, we hosted a Houston group that does a climbing wall ministry for children and youth and threw a community party for children to come and climb for character building, followed by ice cream sundaes and hot dogs. We made sure that everything we did involved personal contact. It is fine to send a check to a missionary, but we wanted our community to experience a personal relationship with us. We wanted them to see Jesus in us.”
Kathy’s favorite was a field trip into Tyler to work with a small group of mentally challenged young men. She shares, “A group of us met in Tyler, ordered some pizza and a dance teacher in our church proceeded to teach these young men how to line dance. It was all wonderful, but my personal Great God moment was watching one of our members attempting to teach one young man how she danced in the ‘50s – a sock hop routine, if you will. Watching her trying to teach him to push and pull and swing around was amazing. He enjoyed it, but she was radiant with laughter, obviously having a very good time. Doing God’s work became fun and it had been a while since our church had FUN!”
Looking back, she sees that the congregation realized it was important to go out into the world with the smile and affection of Jesus. Asks Kathy, “How else can we set an example of how wonderful God is? I have wanted to take our message outside the church walls for a long time, so this week of COTS was a blessing!”
Church member, Martha Hunt adds, “This was a truly wonderful week. It was great being out in the community and helping where we could. I especially enjoyed helping at the food bank. We had a young college student working with us to fulfill some community service. He got the benefit of several grandmas' advice about getting on the right track with his life. This was probably a little more than he expected from his day at the food bank, but hopefully he will go forward with a little new outlook. I am looking forward to going back to the food bank soon.”
Vibrant CongregationKathy notes, “New ideas and participation is making our church more vibrant.” After praying about having time to do more of this ministry work, the radio soon featured someone speaking about setting aside the time for God just like most people do for other activities. She is now motivated to schedule another COTS event for a three-day adventure in November, and has several outreach ideas for December, as well. She has heard members say: "I had a great time visiting with people in the community, loved watching the kids' faces and hope we do it again." Another shared, "I loved the hot dog shindig! Also loved going to the Food Bank in Tyler. I felt like we accomplished something really worthwhile and had a lot of fun doing it." Yet another comments, "Doing things for others always feels good. Doing it in the name of Christ is even better. COTS gave us, as the church, opportunities to reach out and make a difference in our community. I would enjoy finding ways to do things like COTS on a monthly basis."
Feedback: This is Making a DifferenceIn an email thank you note to the church, a non-member wrote, “I just wanted to say thanks to you and your congregation for hosting the rock climbing wall this afternoon. My kids had so much fun getting to climb and our family enjoyed the friendly, fun, welcoming atmosphere you all created. One thing in particular stood out - there was one teenager who went out of her way to help our family get hot dogs and make sure we had everything we needed. I really appreciated her looking out for us! It seems like you've created a place where kids feel comfortable hanging out and I know it is so vital for them to have a safe place to belong."