|Source: Baptist Press|
First Baptist Church of Sun Valley is, on the surface, just like any other congregation. They gather for worship, participate in bible study together, and give to support missions. However, like many churches across the country, as the congregation ages and members transition, the median age has increased, youth attendance is in decline, and resources have shrunk.
Nonetheless, despite all the congregation’s struggles, they are staunchly committed to supporting the South Baptist Convention’s Cooperative Program giving 10% of undesignated giving to missions.
Pastor Larry Whitney said, “Being a small church made up mostly of seniors, I felt we needed a way to reach people for Christ. The Cooperative Program does what we can’t as a small church.
“I believe give what you can, but give sacrificially and from the heart. God gives us everything we’ve got. We are a small church, but we are a giving church. We need to help as much as we can, even though we’re small.”
Founded in 1958 in an unincorporated suburb of Reno, Nevada, the congregation serves a community that is approximately 95% unchurched.
Home to one of the largest mobile home communities in the nation, the congregation’s founders wanted to offer a spiritual home to families who were responding to the 1938 federal government offer of five acres to individuals who would establish permanent residences in Reno.
Despite baptizing more than 80 people during his pastorate, the highly transient nature of the community has made it hard to establish a core community to do larger ministry initiatives.
In a call for volunteers to assist with ministry, Whitney said, “If you are missions-oriented, come to Sun Valley. You don’t need a passport and we could use your help. We need volunteers able to spread the Gospel and build relationships with the people here.”
Averaging approximately 40 people a Sunday, the community suffers from limited broadband access, high rates of poverty, alcoholism, and drug use.
The volunteers, Whitney hopes, will be able to assist the church in missions outreach and evangelism that his predominantly older congregation is unable to perform. Working with the North American Mission Board, Sun Valley Baptist is optimistic that their community can be transformed and what may seem to others as a small group with God is capable of achieving extraordinary things.
Source: Baptist Press