Sam Goff’s position as minister of missions at Coggin Avenue Baptist Church in Brownwood often takes him and congregation members to the other side of the globe, but there’s also important work to be done in the neighborhoods where those members live.
“Our desire is that every person has the opportunity to hear, experience and respond to the Gospel,” Goff said. “Coggin Avenue Baptist Church encourages and facilitates ways for Christ followers to engage with the world — local, domestic and internationally — in a variety of ways.”
His goal, then, is to serve as a mobilizer for missions within the congregation, however and wherever its members find a place to serve.
After 2-1/2 years in the position, Goff feels like he’s managed to get his feet on the ground, but it remains a work in progress.
“The long-term intention is to simply love people, and take what we learn in worship out of the pews and become the hands and feet of Jesus,” Goff said. “People can use their unique, God-given skills and abilities in this way. It’s not about us, it’s about Him and God’s glory.
“We are excited and blessed to see what God is doing through these ministries.”
Those ministries are as varied as the specific interests of the congregation, including serving in locations as distant as Southeast Asia, Guatemala, Alaska, Toronto, Zambia, and as near as East Elementary School and Good Samaritan Ministries in Brownwood.
This month, the church has been holding a “Connect” series during Sunday worship to “preach through our mission statement and unpack” what that word means. The mission statement is to make disciples by leading people to connect in different ways. The titles of the four parts of the series are connecting with God (worship), with others (community), through service (ministry and service), and to the world (mission).
“The central connection is with God,” Goff said. “The other connections flow out from it.”
Chris and Amanda Stuard, the congregation’s Love Brownwood missionaries, facilitate local missions in particular. They said their vision is for believers to live intentionally vigilant of the needs of those around them, right in their local neighborhood.
“There are lots of (local) faith-based organizations and non-profits that share our own concerns, and we encourage our members to be involved in them,” Chris Stuard said.
The goal is for people to have an open heart, without being programmatic, Goff added.
For example, one major endeavor is Service Sunday, when members attend early morning worship and then spend their Sunday school hour — and perhaps more — meeting needs they see in the community.
“It wasn’t our idea,” Chris Stuard said. “We heard about it at a conference we went to. We work in small groups in the city where people are unable physically to do things around the house they need to do.”
Service Sunday is planned four or five times a year, with the next event scheduled for April 23.
Members also work with local schools, and they are coordinating a mentoring program with East Elementary School in Brownwood.
Family reconciliation is an important aspect of Love Brownwood community missions.
The Stuards have organized what they call the Backyard Bible Club, which gathers on Friday evenings for worship and Bible study in a neighborhood not far from the church’s facilities on Coggin Avenue.
Another local project is Camp Hope directed by Kurt Newton, involving incoming sixth and seventh graders. It’s a summer sports-focused initiative.
“There are a lot of camps and programs for the younger kids and for the older ones, but there seems to be a gap for that age particular group,” Chris Stuard said.
Church members work with Good Samaritan Ministries’ Food for Thought, which provides nutritional meals to young people who are on free or reduced-price meal programs at school who may not enjoy similar meals when school is not in session.
Other local ministries where Coggin Avenue Baptist Church members participate include Christian Women’s Job Corps, Pregnancy Care Center, Meals on Wheels, FCA, and others.
Meanwhile, mission work in distant locations is also important. Individuals in the congregation may have been involved in specific efforts before moving to Brownwood, or others became involved after moving away and local residents decided to go help them in their endeavors.
Jared Huntley is a 2014 graduate of Howard Payne University who served Coggin Avenue Baptist Church as a university ministry intern while earning his bachelor’s degree in Bible. He and his wife, Jen, are now ministering in a suburb of Toronto, developing a new church.
Coggin members Scott and Leslie Eddy will lead a group to Canada in July to assist with vacation Bible school at that congregation.
Senior Pastor Tim Skaggs has a long-term friendship with Brenda Crim, the founder of Alaska Missions and Retreats. Coggin church members are planning a trip in late June and early July to Nome to help build a training/retreat center for pastors and youth in 15 satellite Native American villages.
Guatemala is the destination for a trip in May to assist the Food for the Hungry, an organization with which Goff was previously employed. While there, assistance will be provided at a medical clinic, improvements to cook-stoves will be made as a health initiative, and a family and marriage event will be conducted.
For almost two weeks in June, members will assist a team in Southeast Asia who teach English as a second language at a high school.
In late July and early August, four members will travel to Zambia for a series of Bible storytelling and evangelism meetings.
The student ministry led by Ricky Cavitt is planning a mission trip to Uganda in March, partnering with youth groups at Baptist churches in Early and Albany.
In addition, Kent Parks, president of Act Beyond, a missions agency whose leaders are primarily Baptist but who work with multiple denominations, will lead a workshop on disciple-making movements at the church on March 3-4.
“All believers have a part,” Goff said, “praying, sending, giving and going on mission. To clarify, the purpose of ‘going on mission’ is the same whether one goes to another country, remains in Brownwood, and anywhere in between: to present the Gospel in word and action so that people may enter into relationship with God.”
Going to work every day in Brown County is as much a place of ministry as traveling to a distance location, he said.
“The question is, what do we do with the opportunities to share Christ and influence people on a daily basis, regardless of our location? The mission field is all around us. You don’t have to get into a van or go somewhere else to touch the lives of people,” Goff said.