Having fun while loving God

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At Central Baptist Church in Port St. Lucie, church members recently lived out how to “have fun while loving God,” with about 450 community residents joining in on the fun at the Eggstra-Special Easter Egg Hunt.

Earlier this year Senior Pastor Nick Manzie challenged his congregation to host a community event once a quarter in 2022, with the Easter egg hunt being the church’s first outreach event this year.

“The result is exciting, but seeing God work through our obedience is wonderful beyond measure,” shared Manzie.

“Over the past couple of years, our church has been trying to focus on reaching outward, trying hard to live out our faith,” he said.

When Manzie became pastor at Central Baptist Church in 2019, he found a multicultural but older congregation located in a neighborhood in Port St. Lucie just west of the Florida Turnpike.

Since his arrival, the church has focused on reaching younger families without disengaging the older generation.

“We’ve been seeing a lot of change,” the pastor said. “We previously averaged about three youth per week; this past week we had 20 youth. Our kids’ ministry consisted of two children; now we’re averaging 17.

“We’re a family-oriented church, making sure that we have something for everyone – kids, parents, grandparents.”

To create interest in and awareness of the egg hunt, the church used social media, announcements on a local radio station, and word-of-mouth. Members also went door-to-door with 500 door-hangers inviting neighbors to the Saturday block party as well as Easter Sunday services.

At the egg hunt, families enjoyed bounce houses, face painting, games and hot dogs.

The feedback Manzie received has been positive, as folks expressed gratitude that the church was hosting such a fun, well-organized family event post-COVID.

‘Blessed beyond measure’

Prior to the event, Manzie reminded the congregation, which averages 110 in Sunday morning attendance, that the goal of the event was not about a high attendance, but about obedience to God.

“We’ve always considered ourselves to be a small church. But regardless of the size of our congregation, God has called each of us to do something. If we obey God and share our witness with others, we will be blessed beyond measure.

“As long as we’re obedient to do what God tells us to do, we will be successful regardless of numbers. Our job is to be a witness, to tell others about Jesus; it’s not our job to convert others, that’s His job,” shared the pastor, who serves on the State Board of Missions for the Florida Baptist Convention.

What’s next? The Easter egg hunt has fueled church members’ desire to do more community outreach. Already, the church is planning a back-to-school bash in July for a backpack and school supply give-away. In August, the church will help provide breakfast for teachers at a nearby elementary school during the week before school starts. And, church members are “already anticipating” next year’s Easter egg hunt, vowing it will be even “better,” the pastor said.

“We want to show the community that we’re here; God loves them, and we want to walk side-by-side with them. And that we can have fun while loving God.”

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