Pray, Serve, Reach: A Church's Threefold Approach to Reaching their Community
Illinois church takes threefold approach to reaching and serving its community in multiday event.Donald P. Andreasen, 62, graduated from Central Bible College in 1983. Upon his graduation, Andreasen began serving in youth ministry, and later was joined with his wife, Tammy. In 2011, the couple continued in their ministry as lead pastors of O’Fallon Assembly of God in O’Fallon, Illinois.
Shortly after starting as lead pastor, Andreasen felt led to begin annual service projects, a time of evangelistic momentum fueled by volunteering and serving, which he called “Servolution.”
The church immediately fell in love with the idea.
“The first year we put on Servolution, we had about 100 people come out to volunteer with us,” says Andreasen.
Throughout the years, the idea has changed, grown, and given birth to new annual service events. But in October of 2023, Andreasen decided to lead his church in a threefold service venture that addressed the spiritual, physical, and relational needs of the community.
Spanning the course of one week, the church participated in a service outreach called “Pray, Serve, Reach.”
To kick off the week, the church started by hosting a day of prayer. During the service, their student ministries pastor, Joshua T. Cruse, 40, delivered a message on the topic of prayer. In the evening prayer service, the congregation spent time praying for the needs both within the church and in the community. Together as one spiritual family, they asked for the Lord’s blessing on their church, on their time of service in the community, and on their evangelistic “reach”.
The day of service was the following Saturday. Beginning at 7:30 a.m., 60 members of O’Fallon Assembly went out into the community to serve on six different project teams.
Group projects included landscaping the church, cleaning up part of a local highway, visiting and serving at two separate assisted living centers, completing small projects for the local elementary school, and what has come to be known as the “Mayor’s Project.”
“For the Mayor’s Project, we ask the mayor to give our church a project that needs to be done in the community that probably wouldn’t otherwise get accomplished,” Andreasen says.
This year, the church was asked to assist in the property cleanup of 81-year-old veteran, Carl Popadak.
“Carl has no family in the area and his property was overgrown, things were growing up the side of his house and out of the gutters, and it was becoming a problem in the city,” states Andreasen. “He had been hesitant to allow people to come in and help but once I told him who I was and that the only thing we wanted to do was to help him, he was really touched at the gesture.”
At the end of the day, Popadak had become a team hero. As Andreasen went back another day to check on him, he recalls seeing Popadak sitting in his reading chair by a window that, only days before, had been totally blocked by towering weeds.
“It was touching to see him sitting there, reading in the sunlight that was now able to come through,” Andreasen says.
“It was very much appreciated,” says Popadak. “Some of the changes were humungous. It was a night and day difference.”
Through the acts of service, Andreasen and Popadak say that a new friendship has been formed and both are thankful for the connection that was made.
“One of the best things for me was that we had all ages serving,” says Ashlyn F. Andreasen, 25, children’s pastor of O’Fallon Assembly. “Seeing such a diverse age group out, serving together, being intentional, was an incredible thing.”
As the day concluded, the church headed into the last day of their event: Reach. On this particular Sunday, congregants were asked to reach out and invite friends, neighbors, or people they met in the community to the morning service.
Cruse states that the order of the events certainly helped in the success of the weekend.
“When people see a church that is out and serving, they get curious about what we are up to and it makes it easy to invite them, or invite them back, to church,” he says, “and that’s where we saw our biggest increase.”
Andreasen says that the event is being planned again for 2024.
“We will grow it, develop it a little more, especially with the prayer focus, but it was a success and connected well with our people. I’ve heard many say that they were thrilled to be part of it” he says.