MARTINEZ — While hundreds of Georgia Baptist churches were engaged in “The Big Invite” leading up to Easter and experiencing exceedingly large numbers of worshippers Easter Sunday, Abilene Baptist Church in Martinez added a new dimension to “The Big Invite” – an Easter egg drop.
Terry Doss, executive pastor of Abilene, stated, “As Easter approached, the Lord allowed this 243-year-old congregation to reach over 7,000 people through a crazy event called ‘The Great Easter egg Drop.’
“This outreach event targeted families with young children, a focus of the church under the leadership of our pastor, Dr. Brad Whitt. The event required several hundred servants, raising the total participation to just over 7,500 people.”
Tommy Sunderland, associate pastor of music and media, emphasized, “Dr. Whitt’s call was for the church to continue on the journey of what God wanted Abilene to be, a place where the tag line ‘Abilene Loves Augusta’ would be the heartbeat of the church. It all began with a vision – a holy idea from God’s heart,” Sunderland reiterated.
Children’s Director Ginger Custer accepted the challenge and led in establishing two major outreach events of the church. Abilene added an event toward the end of October called the “FallFest.” Sunderland indicated that several hundred Abilene members gathered on Saturday morning and went door-to-door in the neighborhoods surrounding the church, inviting them to the event. The church sought to implement the Great Commission by reaching out to those nearby. The executive pastor explained that 500 people were reached the first year and 1,000 this past year through the FallFest.
The next major event in the life of the church was the Singing Christmas Tree in December. It was followed by The Great Easter Egg Drop – something the church had never planned before. Sunderland stated, “This endeavor would truly test the resolve of the fellowship to reach outside the church doors with the Gospel.
“The church overwhelmingly gave its support to this idea. Candy-filled plastic Easter eggs would be dropped from a helicopter and the kids would then run and grab the eggs. The pastor had heard of other churches having success with similar events and he believed it would work at Abilene. And did it ever!
“Families living in the newer growth areas further west from the church and near the event site at the Columbia County Fairgrounds were targeted with mailers. Also, the church had ramped up its online and social media presence in a big way, using it to invite the community as well. Probably the most effective strategy was the personal invite card. The ‘invite card,’ a simple business card-sized invitation, provided a way for members to personally tell their friends and neighbors about the egg drop and other special events and days.”
The first year Abilene held the egg drop, church members stuffed 10,000 eggs and there were 2,000 guests registered that day. The next Sunday there were people at Abilene who got connected to the church through the egg drop.
Doss added, “For this year’s Egg Drop, 70,000 plastic eggs were filled with candy, and over 7000 people were touched with the love of God through the efforts of the people of Abilene Baptist Church! On Easter our attendance was phenomenal with over 1,800 in attendance.”
Brad and Kelli Tapley explained, “After moving to the Augusta area in 2016, we knew God had a plan in place for our family. We attended Abilene’s egg drop in April. The next Sunday, we visited the church and the rest is history. From the awesome kids programs to the quarterly Bible studies and the many Sunday School classes to choose from, we knew God had placed us where we needed to be. For the first time in our lives we can honestly say we’ve found our church ‘home’!”
Shirley Farmer, a longtime member of Abilene, stated, “There is an excitement and energy in our church as Pastor Brad leads and preaches God’s Word with conviction and anointing. He leads by example and has given Abilene a new vision for reaching our community and world with God’s love.”
Abilene member Nick Snellings testifies, “Abilene is a place where my family can come worship our great God with our brothers and sisters in Christ and hear messages that are relevant and spirit-filled. In the meantime, it is a blessing to know that my kids are being taught the love of Christ in a way that they can understand.”
It is good when church members can give a stirring testimony of what God is doing in their lives through the local church.