By COLBY DENTON
Clingan Ridge Baptist Church is wrapping up its Boots on the Ground program just in time for Christmas.Originally created by Clingan Ridge Associate Pastor Shane Lawson, the program is put into …
Clingan Ridge Baptist Church is wrapping up its Boots on the Ground program just in time for Christmas.
Originally created by Clingan Ridge Associate Pastor Shane Lawson, the program is put into action each fall, and works to show God's love in a practical way.
"Boots on the Ground falls into the role of outreach, which is part of my calling, and when I came to Clingan Ridge I wanted to reach people outside the four walls of the church," Lawson said.
Starting in November 2016, Lawson started Boots on the Ground a short time later. According to him, God gave him a vision of what sort of program they needed.
Some of the outreach opportunities have included distributing lunches to the homeless shelter/hospital; Bible distribution; giving batteries and lightbulbs to the community door-to-door; community block parties; and "cranberry outreach," which distributed cranberry sauce to area residents for Thanksgiving.
"The students that are involved with us helped distribute doughnuts to their teachers at high schools and at Cleveland State as well," Lawson said.
Clingan Ridge also hosted the Boys & Girls Clubs Christmas party on Thursday, in which all kids received a pair of shoes and a meal.
While Boots on the Ground may be ending for the year, Lawson is planning on starting God's Plan for Sharing in spring 2018.
"Boots on the Ground is a September to December ministry," Lawson said. "But that's just when GPS starts, which is something I started at my former church.
"Our goal for GPS is to reach 10,000 homes by 2020 in Cleveland. We will probably expand that to reaching 25,000 homes by 2025," Lawson said. "By reach, I mean give out a Bible and invite them to whatever service is up-and-coming, like Easter."
Clingan Ridge has recently purchased a new program called "Bless Every Home," which allows church members to sign up to pray for numerous homes in the community.
"What's really cool about 'Bless Every Home' is that those who sign up are given five homes near their own to go reach out to and pray with specifically," Lawson added. "This program gives you the names and addresses of those homes that need prayer."
Clingan Ridge had 16 new families visit its sanctuary on Easter 2017 due to this outreach.
"One objective we have is for 400 of our church members to adopt 100 homes each. That way, 40,000 people in Bradley and Polk counties are being prayed for," Lawson explained.
Using their mapping system, Clingan Ridge gets updates every three days informing it of people moving in/out of local homes, what the demographic of a home is, and the address. Lawson believes that using the capabilities of technology to its fullest will enable his church to reach one of the largest pools of people possible.
Boots on the Ground and GPS are two aspects of the larger Clingan Ridge program, Love Local. A churchwide opportunity, Love Local allows the Clingan Ridge family to show the love of God in practical ways to others within the community. Their motto is "Disciples making Disciples."
"Love Local gives us opportunities to focus on an important command Jesus gave His disciples, and that is to 'love your neighbor as yourself,'" Lawson said.
The program is founded on four biblical markers, which include: equipping every believer to be a trained witness; praying for lost people; sowing the seeds of faith with every lost person and acting as a witness to them; and harvesting and celebrating every salvation result.
Lawson believes these programs have shown just how much the community prays, as at one point there were 45 "prayer warriors" participating in prayer walking for a full week.
"The programs engaged the members of our church and got them to go take the Gospel to those outside the four walls of this church," Lawson explained. "Which is exactly what they were created for!"
The church is planning on renovating its lobby with newer technology, as well as considering adding a connecting breezeway between the education building and sanctuary.
"We've got to get people connected, because if they are not, we risk losing them, as all churches do. That's why technology is crucial," Lawson said.
"I believe that these programs are a steppingstone in a greater plan that God has for Clingan Ridge," he added.
Clingan Ridge is pastored by the Rev. Gary Moats on Sundays, and Lawson on Wednesday nights. Services begin at 11 a.m. Sunday mornings, 6 p.m. Sunday nights and 7 p.m. Wednesdays.
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