The LOCAL Mission
CARLY MALKIEWICZ // FRESHMAN
Where It Began
There are various ministries in middle and high schools, but they often do not connect back to a local church. Courtney Lovingood began brainstorming ideas on how to bridge this gap, and Callie Beller came alongside her to help in any way she could. After more planning and praying, 11 girls were ready to say ‘yes’ to serving the local church in a unique way.
Watkinsville FBC is being taken to Oconee-county middle and high schools through LOCAL: a weekly Bible study for girls aiming to create life-giving community, cultivate whole-heated followers of Christ, and encourage bold proclamations of the gospel. Each leader will be guiding girls in the same scripture being taught at college Bible study, so they will be growing along with the girls they are leading.
Mentoring a Life-Giving Community
Our desire to invest in middle and high school girls comes from a personal place. Since she lacked a mentor at that age, Katie Story is filled with a passion to invest in middle school girls. After fully realizing the extraordinary value of the local church, Katie says she “never had a specific mentor to teach me about the importance of the local church in my life, and I never had someone to literally read through the Bible with me and help me fall in love with God’s Word. I want to be that for these sweet girls.”
Grace Jenkins sensed a similar absence later on in school that created a desire in her heart to “invest and pour any wisdom I’ve been given into a group of girls to build a community that I didn’t have in high school.” Through LOCAL, we have the ability to mentor younger girls in a Christ-centered way of living that is radically different from the culture and community around them.
Cultivating Wholehearted Followers
Just as Paul instructs the Thessalonians to “encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing,” we pray LOCAL becomes a wholehearted community centered around mutual encouragement through scripture (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Savannah Farr hopes God’s power and love will become evident at these schools as they “learn to love our king Jesus and his Word with all their hearts.”
In the end, our greatest rejoicing will be in the girls that see the difference in this community and go from lost to found. Kayla Phillips’ biggest desire is just that: “to see girls who wouldn’t normally be exposed to Jesus and Christianity as a whole come to know Him and have a personal relationship with Him.” Hannah Payne hopes to welcome these girls as the one “who is there to let the girls know that they are not alone, and I struggle with the same things they do, but that Jesus is better than anything we can imagine.”
Encouraging Bold Proclamations of the Gospel
We pray a genuine, Christ-centered, and encouraging community will deeply root these girls in their faith, but we hope it won’t stop there. Catherine Jessup’s hope is that “they will pour out the love that I gave them to someone else.”
The mission of LOCAL goes further than studying the Bible. Our goal is “to encourage and equip them to share the gospel with their classmates and to be bold,” Callie says. Even though our meetings are only once a week, we have the amazing opportunity to send them out as gospel-messengers in their schools where they can make an impact every day.
Our Excitement and Responsibility
Jesus set an example for us; He profoundly impacted the entire world through His deep investment into His twelve disciples. It is no mistake that His last words in the book of Matthew are to go and make disciples. Catherine points out Jesus’ words aren’t “an option that Jesus gave us, rather a command. If the girls I meet at LOCAL are believers, I think it will be my job to prepare them to face the challenges of the world while equipping them to make other disciples at their school.”
Getting Girls Plugged Into The Local church
After new girls come to know and treasure Christ, LOCAL’s unique connection to Watkinsville brings them into a multi-generational body of believers for ongoing discipleship and spiritual maturation. Kayla can’t wait “to see girls who have never stepped foot in a church come to not only love God, but also love the local church and thrive there!”
LOCAL’s connection to Watkinsville teaches these girls exactly what we have discovered—the essential value of the local church. “I have seen the effect of the local church more now than ever,” Katie says. “I am excited about getting plugged in every way I can, and I want these middle schoolers to feel the same way. I want them to see the impact of the local church in their own lives, and I know this ministry will help them see that.”
As LOCAL begins, there are many different things for which we would love prayer.
Seeking God’s Direction: Courtney asks that we would continue to seek God’s direction and measure LOCAL’s success only by His standards. Rather than focusing on how many girls come in, we pray to focus on the unseen work of the Lord in each girl’s heart and her school.
Patience: Katie’s biggest prayer is for patience. Realizing she might be tempted to worry, Katie wants to be reminded to trust His timing is greater than our own.
The Words to Speak: Callie, Hannah, and Savannah desire for the Lord to speak through each leader, and Kayla asks she would not get in the way of what the Lord wants to say through her.
Confidence, Boldness, and Compassion: With the Lord’s words and guidance, Grace prays God would fill her with confidence, Catherine asks for courage and boldness, and Hannah prays for compassion in all she does.
Preparing Hearts and Schools: Courtney and Hannah pray all the girls’ hearts would be prepared to both receive and share the gospel. Olivia and Savannah ask for prayers that the schools would also be open to us, so they are able to receive this good news.
Brooke Davis’ final comments express all our passion and hope behind LOCAL: