WAYNESFIELD — On May 16, Waynesfield Baptist Church had its first Thursday night service. The idea came from a friend of the head pastor, the Rev. Don Smith.
“My friend is a pastor at First Assembly of God in Richmond, Ind.,” said Smith. “That’s where we got the idea.”
Smith said his church will be trying out this new idea for the summer, and it will be the only weekday service offered during that time.
“We did the same thing for the 8:30 morning service on Sundays,” said Smith. “We were going to do that just for the summer and that was 20 years ago. They wouldn’t let us quit.”
Smith hopes to attract people other than usual church goers.
“We are hoping to reach anyone who is not churched,” he explained. “We want to reach those not going, who have never been, or who are disgruntled with church. It’s for all ages and backgrounds.”
The first service had only about nine people, all of whom were regular church attendees, and while the attendance since then has only grown by a few people, Smith is hopeful that those numbers will change as the summer progresses.
“This time of year is very busy for everyone,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of people say that they want to be there but can’t because of graduation activities or things like that, but I believe we’ll see the attendance really shoot up as the summer goes on and things slow down for everyone. … My friend saw only about 10 or 12 people the first few weeks,” Smith said, “and now they average 60 people every week.”
The new hour-long service is a different style for not only Waynesfield Baptist Church, but it is also unique to the area, as well.
“I think we are one of the only ones doing a Thursday night service,” he said, “and we are probably about the only ones doing a karaoke café type of thing around here.”
The new service includes not only the karaoke and worship, but food and beverages, including coffee, which are available throughout the service.
In addition, they also have church member Bill Motter there as a disc jockey.
“We have a variety of music styles,” Smith said. “It’s more freestyle and people can get food at any time during the service. I do a short message, but we don’t pass an offering plate at all. It’s all about reaching out to those people who wouldn’t normally come on Sunday morning.”
While Smith is in charge of the Thursday service, preparing for it is a group effort. Motter and his wife, Carolyn, help with the set up on Thursday mornings. They also help with the sound checks and make sure all the electronics are working. A group of women also help with the tear down after the Thursday service is over.
Right now, Smith is doing most of the food himself. The first week featured lasagna, spaghetti and fruit salad, much of which was from Olive Garden. There were also snack type items like chips and desserts. However, this past week, Smith said a few church women brought in desserts. His goal is that eventually, different people will take care of the food each week.
Smith was encouraged because of the response so far. “It was supposed to only be an hour,” he said. “We started at 6:45 p.m., and I didn’t get out of there until almost 9 p.m. because people stayed to continue singing and visiting.”
According to Smith, the church has been very supportive of the new service.
“This congregation has always been very supportive of doing new things,” he said. “Even if they don’t attend, they are supportive. We’ve also had people inviting others to attend and reaching out to the people around them.”
In addition to personal invitations, the church has tried other ways to get the word out about the new service.
“We have it on our church sign,” he said. “We also are having it announced on the radio, too. People are hearing about it. I was at the hospital in Findlay the other day, and this man said there was a church with a Thursday evening service, and I told him that was us.”
For Smith, while attendance has been small, the services themselves have been a blessing. “The real blessing is that people don’t want to leave,” he said. “They want to stay and continue to sing. This past Thursday got very emotional. The message and music was about God’s love and heaven, and there was just a great spirit there.”
When: 6:45 p.m. Thursdays
Where: Fellowship hall at Waynesfield Baptist Church, 512 N. Westminster St., Waynesfield
For details, call 419-568-5911.
Thursday night church