Don't let their numbers fool you. One small Georgia church refuses to be confined by its number of members when thinking about making a lasting and large-scale impact on its community.
Hill Baptist Church in Georgia, which has only about 80 members, is in the middle of a 40-day, daily service project to demonstrate the literal meaning of what it is to be a church through its action throughout Augusta, Ga.
"The number 40 is a significant timeline in the Bible. The whole point of the 40 days of ministry is to get out of the building," said Ron Jones, leading pastor of the church. "The whole mission is to be the body of Christ in the community, not just our building."
According to the Bible, the period of 40 days denotes completion or fulfillment and is oftentimes associated with the duration of a trial or testing period. Jones says the large undertaking, set to conclude with a Sunday celebration service on July 14, is the period of establishing a new momentum within his church.
"It's a jump-start, an electric shock, to shock us into a new rhythm God has for us," said Jones.
The 40 days of ministry is currently half-way through its program, and activities have ranged from collecting and disposing trash at local parks, hosting a neighborhood cookout, visiting an Alzheimer's daycare center, to paying for people's laundry at a laundromat.
The good deeds are dispersed among the church's 80 active members, and Jones says the goal is for each of them to participate.
"This is for everyone," he said. "We wanted to come up with something the whole church could be involved in, whether you're 9 or 90."
And so far, everyone has lent a hand. On The Hill Baptist Church's Facebook page, images of their community efforts are updated daily. On Day 21, the youth group handed out free ice cream and lemonade and an image of church elders meeting to prepare and hand out groceries to families was posted on Day 22.
Although this daily project is a new initiative, the church sponsors other community outreach events as well. Doing so keeps the church busy, and according to Jones, it's exactly what they need to spruce up their ministerial work. "You get used to a certain routine. You keep doing the same things. My hope is that it would take us off the cow path," said Jones. "As Christians, we're meant to be outward focused. If you don't have that outward focus, you become stagnant," he added.
This week, members will gather to assist at a food pantry and a Bar-B-Que with water games is scheduled to offer a time of sharing and livelihood among community neighbors. And so far the response from those they aim to help has been well received.
"We've had a great response from some of the new things we're doing," said Jones. "We want the city of Augusta to be better because we're here."