MADISON–When members of Fellowship Baptist Church in Madison hold their Love Loud Sundays, that’s exactly what they try to do throughout the community.
On this day, members gather at the church first thing in the morning, but they don’t stay long. They eat breakfast together, enjoy a short devotional and sing a few songs, but then the majority of members scatter into the community to love loudly.
Church members love loudly by doing a variety of work projects, including:
- Mowing lawns and doing yardwork
- Preparing meals for first responders and nursing home workers
- Praying for people, both in person and from a prayer team at church
- Washing cars in town or doing windshield washes near the interstate
- Providing money for people to wash and dry their clothes at the laundromat
- Beautifying mailboxes by pulling weeds and planting flowers around mailbox posts
- Building wheelchair ramps for those in need.
“That’s what we’ve done in the past,” said Jackie Watts, Fellowship Baptist Church pastor. “We call it Love Loud. We use that in light of many Scriptures where Jesus tells us to love our neighbors. We don’t do it just for social impact. We try to do it as an opportunity to share the gospel.”
The Love Loud idea originally came from the Florida Baptist Convention, Watts said. At first, Fellowship Baptist did this on a Saturday, but not everyone could make it. While switching it to Sunday really increased participation, some members were initially hesitant to do a work project on Sunday rather than attend church.
Watts reminded congregants that Jesus often healed and cared for people on the Sabbath. In Luke 14:5, Jesus used the ox in the ditch example when discussing the issue with religious leaders of the day.
“Jesus loves people much more than an ox,” he said. “We’re going to purposefully gather on Sunday to serve our community. And if you are wanting to really be involved in church, you’ve got like five hours to be involved rather than just one or two hours.”
An important part of each project completed for community residents is for the church members to ask their neighbors for prayer requests. This often leads to gospel conversations. In addition to praying with the people they help, church members also text or call prayer needs back to the church to prayer team members, who pray that day and in the days and weeks that follow.
The prayer team is mostly comprised of senior adults who are unable to do yardwork and other projects. Watts said they serve a vital role in Love Loud Sundays. “Some people may feel like they can’t join us because they can’t do the work. But we say if you can cook or drive or pray, you can help.”
After all the work is done, members gather back at the church to have lunch together and to share about their experiences. “We have a microphone set up, and people pop up to share their testimony of who they served or how they were impacted,” he said. “We’ve heard some really cool things. People in the community also talk about this, which has inspired other churches to do this.”
While Fellowship Baptist does this event in the spring in the weeks leading up to Easter, Watts said it could be done at any time during the year, including the weeks around Thanksgiving and Christmas. He and members are happy to share with any other churches interested in doing something similar.
This has become a popular event at his church, with about 150 people participating, including whole families. It has even led a few participants to become members of the church.
For Watts, his favorite part of the Love Loud Sundays is for members to see how they can be used by God. “Ideally we want it to be not just a one-time event,” he said. “We want it to be a challenge for people. This could be a catalyst for people to get out there and do this on their own.”
He also loves seeing the body of Christ serving together. “There’s something about sweating together, serving together and knocking on doors together that brings you closer,” he said. “You realize you’re on mission together and you’re not alone.”