Years ago, someone suggested to Pastor Doug Preston that he needed prominent people as part of his congregation, ones who could help market the church and support it financially.
The pastor of Greensburg Wesleyan Church (GWC) in Greensburg, Ind., walked away from that conversation feeling heavy-hearted.
“I knew God had called us to serve the ‘misfits,'” said Rev. Preston, a term he uses to describe his calling as a pastor. When Rev. Preston and his wife, Sherri, first arrived at GWC 8 ½ years in the eastern Indiana community, average attendance hovered in the low 30s. The church was not known in the community, outreach was nonexistent, and the church seemed close to death.
So the second-career pastor, his wife, and congregants got to work. A mission statement was created to give the church a focus so ministry and growth could happen: “Our purpose is to exalt the name of Jesus by bringing people to Him, by providing a source of comfort, care, and compassion.”
Every outreach idea or ministry program is weighed against that mission statement so the church can truly be effective in ministering to people. And it seems to be working.
“Now I can go to Walmart and someone will say, ‘What is your church doing now?'”
Greensburg Wesleyan, a church in the Indiana South District of The Wesleyan Church, is truly known in the community now. But, more importantly, Rev. Preston cares about lives been changed through everyday ministry. The church hosts a regular community outreach weekend each year. A service isn’t held on Sunday of that week; instead, volunteers serve in the community Friday to Sunday, helping clean and do home repairs.
On Tuesdays, the church hosts a pitch-in lunch for the hungry in Greensburg. Food is provided by church members for 5-50 people–however many need a bite to eat that day. They also host a carnival in an area apartment complex, interacting and meeting residents.
Perhaps one of the most successful ministries of the church, in regards to changed lives, is Celebrate Recovery. This is a nationwide, biblical program designed to help those “struggling with hurts, habits, and hang-ups by showing them the loving power of Jesus Christ through a recovery process.”
On Friday nights, an average of 70 people attend, including a divorced woman who has endured a lot of “garbage” in her life and is now being disciple and made new in her relationship with Jesus. Another attendee has been a lifelong drug addict and has now been clean for three years. He knows Jesus has changed his life, but also recognizes how church members have “just loved me.”
Another part of GWC is its vibrant Hispanic ministry. A bilingual Hispanic service is held every Sunday afternoon, a young ministry that is only three months old. A gentleman recently attended church for the first time ever after experiencing a family member’s tragic death. During a service he said, “I want Jesus,” and made a first-time commitment. His wife did too, as did another attendee. The church is currently working toward becoming an immigration connection office. (Currently, there are four Wesleyan churches that hold that title.)
Greensburg Wesleyan also has a children’s ministry, teen ministry, and partners with the local YMCA for ministry purposes. On a weekly basis, approximately 230 people are ministered to through GWC.
“Someone once said to me, ‘You guys will love on anyone,'” said Rev. Preston. “We’ve still had some tough times, and not everything has been easy. I’ve had some people say, ‘What are we doing?’ But we have seen lives changed miraculously.”
Even amidst the blood, sweat, and tears, as well as the naysayers at the church, Rev. Preston knows this ministry is what God has called him to. So he continues to provide comfort, care, and compassion to his congregants and the community.