Talk of frying fish spawned the idea for a fishing expo at one church.
“It was a good experience for us to see what kind of outreach is possible,” said Bill Walker, a member of First Baptist Church (FBC) in Black Mountain.
Several men in the church enjoy fishing, and the pastor suggested a fish fry for the church. But as they began to discuss the dinner, the idea began to grow.
The “Get Hooked “ conference, which was held in November, was a first-time outreach event for FBC.
The expo featured demonstrations on fly tying and fly casting as well as information on where to fish and licensing issues. Pastor David Rayburn also had a brief devotion. A fish dinner with a time for fish tales followed.
While the catch was smaller than they would have liked, Walker said the 24 people who attended “seemed to enjoy it.”
Ten of the participants were from outside the church. They heard about it through word-of-mouth as well as posters placed in various stores.
“What I did learn from the experience is that God can use our faithful efforts to reach out to the community in the name of Christ,” Walker said. “While we were hoping more people would come to the event, we believe God blessed the fellowship, food, and the devotional time.”
The presenters were from the local community as well. Kenny Palmer and Susan Faw were from One Fly Outfitters. Another presenter was Chris Champion, a church member and avid fisherman.
Walker said they began planning three months before the event.
The expo was aimed at building fellowship, said Rayburn, who has been FBC’s pastor for almost eight years.
“Our motivation was in trying to build from resources internally that we had,” said Rayburn, who admits that he is not an avid fisherman but knew that it was an interest of several church members. He said he did learn about certain fishing licensing requirements and seasonal considerations he’d never considered.
Rayburn hopes FBC can build on the outreach idea through tapping into other members’ interests. The church is involved in a local gleaning ministry where volunteers harvest crops not being used.
The church, which averages 120 people on Sunday mornings, has just begun to broaden “their awareness of outreach opportunities.”
Rayburn said he is excited to see his flock begin to take more ownership of their walk with God.
“It’s a beginning process as a church embracing outreach,” said Rayburn, who hopes to engage more members “in things they like to do.”
Rayburn said the church has been through some struggles and cultural shifts like most other congregations.
“The church went through a period of wounding (and) is trying to recover and grow and mature,” Rayburn said. “It’s an effort to help them relearn, rethink, reengage in ways they hadn’t done before.”
Rayburn said the youth pastor has gotten the church involved in a Christmas outreach the first weekend of December. Called Holly Jolly, Black Mountain hosts a time where shops stay open later than usual.
FBC sets up a tent and distributes hot chocolate and cider as well as popcorn for free to the public. One woman sells goodies to raise money for missions.
Rayburn said he is encouraged to see his members “move forward in a way that serves Christ.”