For a little Midwestern church in the middle of a cornfield, Hopewell United Methodist Church in Groveport, Ohio, has a big heart for discipleship.

Rev. Barbara Salyers
Rev. Barbara Salyers

The Rev. Barbara Salyers, pastor of the church for the past nine years, said the church’s discipleship education takes place not so much inside the church building, but in the community as the people go out and minister to hurting and needy people in the name of Jesus.

Sometimes discipleship takes the path of ministering despite knowing you will get nothing in return.

A group of people from Hopewell did the work of disciples by doing a monthly 2-day Vacation Bible School in a number of nursing homes around the central part of the state. They did this not just one year, but for 10 years.

Sometimes discipleship takes the path of ministering despite knowing you will get nothing in return.

One of the church members felt a burden and passion for the residents of nursing homes, so she shared this with the church. Over the course of the 10 years, the team of people who joined her did VBS at a different nursing home each month.

Even building a chicken coop can be ministry if done in Jesus’ name

Rev. Salyers said the residents, some of whom remembered being a worker or participant in VBS, seemed to love it.

“We had some folks who were really disabled – stroke patients, couldn’t talk, couldn’t walk, memory issues,” she said. “But, you know, they nearly all responded to music. They would try to sing the familiar songs.”

The VBS leader would get the VBS area decorated for the theme the day before the event. On the first day, the team would do a Bible study, have music time, play a game such as scripture Bingo, and serve a snack. The second day they had a similar schedule, but would do a craft activity instead of a game.

Rev. Salyers served communion before the end of VBS.

“Some days were really hard, and we wondered if we had really made a difference,” she said. “But, I know we did.”

Anytime you take Jesus with you and minister in his name, people will be touched. Even those who may not be able to tell you.

Of course, they did. Anytime you take Jesus with you and minister in his name, people will be touched. Even those who may not be able to tell you.

If you ask a lot of people, you’d probably find laundry to be one of those necessary chores that no one looks forward to doing. This is probably especially true if you have to pack up all those dirty clothes, towels and linens, along with your quarters and detergent, and go to a laundromat.

Rev. Salyers, who describes her people as disciples with servant hearts, said one of the most appreciated ministries of the church is the Loads of Love endeavor.

“We go to a local laundromat at different times and minister by paying for the customers’ laundry, helping them fold clothes, giving them detergent, whatever they need,” she said. “In every case, the first question is ‘Why are you doing this?’ and, I’m certain, wondering what’s the catch.”

Hopewell UMC
For Hopewell UMC, discipleship is shown by what happens outside the church doors

The church members tell them they are from Hopewell United Methodist Church, and their only motivation is to let the customers know that they love them. Once the customers understand there is no ulterior motive, conversations nearly always develop. The church members get the opportunity to talk about Hopewell and share how being there makes a difference in their lives. Often, they get the opportunity to pray with someone. An invitation to church usually follows.

“Loads of Love gives us the privilege of sharing Jesus with people,” Rev. Salyers said. “We may be the only Jesus some people see, and we take the responsibility seriously.”