“The church is dead.”

These words fell on the desensitized ears of the church board in a small church in western Maine. Similar observations have echoed throughout the Adventist church for as long as I remember.

“The youth are leaving the church.”

“People stopped attending church during the pandemic.”

“Christianity is dying.”

My first church closed when I was two, and my family moved to the largest church in the district. This church had 108 members on the books and about 40 in attendance. When I was about 10, another nearby church closed, leaving four churches in the district. A few years later, two merged into one. My home church dropped to 15-20 in attendance during the pandemic. Morale was at an all-time low and something had to change. The pastor had a plan: Every board member should host a weekly event to make the church open and alive in the community.

One of the board members, Valerie Jacobs, felt the call. She worked full-time in a nearby hospital and already carried many responsibilities at the church, so time and energy were in short supply. She mulled over the dilemma: “I began to ask God to bring me His plan for a ministry that I could do and not be overburdened. I decided to wait for God to point out His plan.”

A few days later, Valerie ran into an acquaintance at work. This woman and several others used to sit in the hospital’s lobby and crochet, making lap afghans for every patient who passed through the hospital doors. When the pandemic hit, the hospital restricted access for all visitors. Even though the hospital had returned to normal status, the group was not allowed to resume crocheting in the lobby.

Right at that moment Valerie knew God had answered her prayer. “I have just the place for you!” she told the woman. Valerie invited her to bring the group to the Adventist church for a biweekly Monday craft night. The woman immediately called her friends to reassemble the crochet group.

Valerie fell in love with the craft night idea  and started inviting all her patients and coworkers.

“God brought the name ‘Hobby in the Lobby’ to my memory,” she said “I first heard the name at the New Creation Church in Lincoln, Nebraska.  We were there for a weekend visit to our kids at Union, and our eldest daughter took us to that church.  I remember thinking, What a cool idea for a ministry name. I texted Michelle Mesnard from New Creation for details on how they run their group, which she was happy to provide.”

Attendees to the event bring a variety of crafts. The original group brings their crochet; others bring knitting. A small group brings sewing machines and quilting projects. Occasionally someone will bring a new craft and teach the group.

Valerie’s husband, Mark, brings a jigsaw puzzle, but always starts the evening baking a fresh batch of cookies from scratch for everyone to indulge in.

“Hobby in the Lobby is a relaxing change of pace for me,” Mark said. “There is always a lot of chatter and laughter. We would like to see it grow to a couple dozen people. Of course, I’d have to bake more cookies!”

Valerie Jacobs looks forward to continuing this ministry. “My goal for this group, which I might add are not Adventists, is to mingle and become friends, meet their needs by support and prayers, and introduce them to a Jesus who truly loves them.  I’m leaving the conviction of their hearts to God and His timing, since I KNOW it is His ministry and I’m satisfied with that!”


How to Start a Hobby in the Lobby in Your Church

  1. Start rumors – Create interest by mentioning the concept to people. The more support you have at the start means the higher the likelihood of success.
  2. Talk to your pastor or the church’s event coordinator – They will be able to give you important information on the ideal times and locations for the group to meet.
  3. Advertise to the church – Post the event in the bulletin and make sure it is in the announcements. If your church does social media, that would also be a good place to reach people.
  4. Have a few dedicated people commit to coming the first time – The first meeting’s attendance will likely be small, and that is normal. It’s good to have a guaranteed few for the next step.
  5. Document – Take photos and write about how the first event went. These can be used for more effective advertising. If people see photos, they are more likely to be interested.
  6. Word of mouth is the best advertising – Encourage everyone to bring a friend … or two! This event is a great opportunity to encourage friends to get together and spend time catching up.


Annelise Jacobs is a senior communication major from Maine.