Episode 228

Caring for Widows, Churches Recovering from Pandemic & Doers of His Word

Nov 17, 2022

For Eastwood Baptist Church in Bowling Green, Ky., caring for widows has become part of the DNA of the whole congregation. The failure of churches to recapture all their pre-COVID churchgoers means even fewer churches reach 100 in attendance on a typical weekend. And, the book of James has stood as one of the most practical in the New Testament. In his book, James offered practical insight into how to obey Jesus in the real world.

Transcript

For Eastwood Baptist Church in Bowling Green, Ky., caring for widows has become part of the DNA of the whole congregation.

Greg Swack’s title at Eastwood is officially pastor of adults, but his primary ministry centers around the church’s senior adult group, which they call “baby boomers and builders.”

He told Baptist Press the group is very active, including a monthly outreach where they deliver meals to those in need.

Even as senior adults are finding ways to serve their community, Swack finds ways for the rest of the congregation to serve them, particularly the nearly 100 widows that are a part of the group.

The main way the church cares for the widows consistently throughout the year is through its deacons. Each deacon is assigned a handful of widows to watch over and be responsible for.

Elements of care include making regular phone calls, providing transportation and completing yard work or household projects.

Swack said having the ministry start with the deacons is an intentional way to show the priority of caring for widows.
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The failure of churches to recapture all their pre-COVID churchgoers means even fewer churches reach 100 in attendance on a typical weekend. Now, 2 in 3 U.S. Protestant churches (68%) have congregations of fewer than 100 people, including 31% who have fewer than 50. A quarter of churches (24%) fall into the 100-249 range, while 8% of congregations host 250 people or more each week.

Almost half of the oldest pastors are leading the smallest congregations. Pastors 65 and older (47%) are most likely to be leading churches with fewer than 50 on a typical weekend. Mainline pastors (38%) are more likely than evangelical pastors (26%) to be leading congregations of fewer than 50.

Denominationally, the smallest churches are more likely to be Presbyterian/Reformed (50%) or Methodist (42%) than Pentecostal (27%) or Baptist (22%). The smallest congregations are also most likely to be in the Northeast (45%).

Still, the smallest congregations are among those most likely to have recovered to pre-COVID levels. Those who reported attendance of fewer than 50 in January 2020 (49%) are more likely to currently say they are at 90% or greater of those pre-pandemic levels than those with 50 to 99 (34%) and 100 to 249 (28%) in pre-pandemic attendance.
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Good News for Today is made possible through our friends at The Voice of the Martyrs, a nonprofit organization that serves persecuted Christians around the world. Founded in 1967 by Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand, VOM is dedicated to inspiring believers to deepen their commitment to Christ and to fulfill His Great Commission — no matter the cost. Find out more and sign up for their free monthly magazine at vom.org/goodnews.
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The book of James has stood as one of the most practical in the New Testament. In his book, James offered practical insight into how to obey Jesus in the real world. James was focused on helping Christ followers connect biblical knowledge with Christ-like living.

In verse 21, James wrote, “Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent, humbly receive the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls.”

As we embrace the Gospel and the Word of God, we turn from the old way of life. We are to rid ourselves “of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent” (v. 21). This is a picture of what happens when we initially turn away from our old way of living and turn toward Jesus through faith. It goes beyond initial salvation. We are to continually rid ourselves of this evil for the remainder of our lives.

Read the full piece and sign up for our daily emails at Baptist Press.com.

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