In the late summer of 2014, Parkview Baptist Church called Jim Drake to serve as its pastor. The church was still hurting because of a recent split they had gone through, and they couldn’t get attendance above 20.
When a church is in that condition, they can’t help but be inward-focused, so Drake began crafting a new mission and tactic to help the church gain new vision and understanding that the greatest need would be for trust.
Drake preached a series of messages from the book of Nehemiah. From which, he pointed out King Artaxerxes had to trust Nehemiah even though he didn’t know him. The king had to extend trust to a cupbearer he didn’t know. Just as it was a matter of life or death in Nehemiah, it was in Parkview. Drake asked the church to extend trust that he hadn’t earned and in turn, he would spend his time proving they could trust him.
“Building real relationships to multiply disciples” became the tactic to guide them beyond the walls of their church. From the beginning, everything was to be relational rather than attractional. In other words, they had to get outside the walls of doing things for themselves, and of expecting to bring people to the church. Therefore, in September 2014, they launched their first “Beyond the Walls” event, which was a cookout located in the Bluefield town park. “It was to have fun and enjoy the community,” Drake said. From that time, they have looked for what no one else is doing and for how they can be most effective.
Drake began attending town council meetings to get to know and to develop relationships with town leaders. He soon would be invited to pray over council meetings and to look for opportunities that would open up the church to serve their community. One such opportunity came that November with an invitation to serve hot chocolate at the town Christmas tree lighting.
In the spring of 2015, they held the first “Home Town Heroes” service, honoring first responders, along with neighborhood Bible clubs across town, and now soccer camps.
Drake said, “just as Jesus lifted the eyes of the disciples to see the fields white unto harvest (John 4:35),” in the same miraculous way, the folks of Parkview began to unify in their vision and decision making.”
Once Parkview began to see beyond their walls, unity within the church began to grow, allowing them to make significant changes such as a new covenant, new membership process, and even new ministry partnerships.
For Parkview to move forward in reaching their neighbors and the nations, they realized it would be imperative to have healthy relationships with ministry partners they could trust. They decided to partner with the Mountain State Baptist Association, and the SBC of Virginia to help them stay on the mission “Beyond the Walls.” ■