When organizers at Lake Forest Church in Huntersville decided to have an Easter Sunday service this year at the Ada Jenkins Center in Davidson, Mission Pastor Michael Flake hoped attendance would top 200.
More than 350 came.
It was part of Lake Forest's efforts to mobilize its congregation and work with agencies that help the community.
Nurses and doctors who wanted to learn more about the center's free clinic attended, as did a local Latino congregation. People came who said they didn't feel comfortable in a church but would go to the center for a service.
Lake Forest Church has served in the community for all its 10 years, especially hosting homeless people through Room in the Inn.
When Flake was hired in May 2009, he was charged with getting the church even more involved in the community, especially with local helping agencies.
Lake Forest decided to work primarily with four local agencies, including the Ada Jenkins Center.
Lake Forest introduced the agencies at its "Hope in a House of Blues" series.
One family called the Ada Jenkins Center and asked what it needed, Flake said. The family then held a toiletry drive in their neighborhood to help.
A 7-year-old girl decided to ask friends to bring art supplies for a ministry to her birthday party, rather than gifts for her.
"We heard different stories like this of how lifting (these agencies) up helped people," Flake said.
The Easter service, Flake said, was a good example of the type of partnership the church wants to develop.
"We realized we needed a fourth Easter service, or we would be turning people away," Flake said. "We benefited, and in return 350 people got to see the Ada Jenkins Center and its ministries."
People responded immediately. One man asked Flake how he could provide free legal aid at the center. Another said he was now more interested in cross-cultural ministry.
Now leaders are forming teams to help people emerging from homelessness. Flake also plans an "Urban Plunge" immersion trip into various ministries in Charlotte.
He hopes the church's "grand vision" for community ministry will unfold as the congregation gets more involved in service.
"I'm just excited by the prospect," Flake said.
Lake Forest Church: www.lakeforest.org.