By all means...
by Richard Atwood, the
the director of missionary assistance for the Home Missions Department. Contact Richard at email@example.com.
BY ALL MEANS…SAVE SOME
Imagine you have just arrived in a city where you don’t know anyone, and God has given you the assignment to start a new church. What do you do? Free Will Baptist home missionaries face the constant challenge to find new and innovative ways to meet people and bring them to Christ. Needless to say, these new methods do not compromise biblical principles. They are simply new strategies for reaching people with the gospel.
Four home missionaries representing the four points on the compass in North America: North (Greg Floars, MI), South (Jarvis Reed, TX), East (Paul McKissick, VA), and West (Jason Taylor, AZ) share the church planting methods they have found successful. As you read about their work, perhaps it will spark some ideas you can implement in your own church.
We held our first Sunday service in Marquette on October 21, 2001. Since then, we have seen 181 people accept Christ. When we first arrived, we immediately became involved in our community by being good neighbors, inviting people into our lives, and becoming a part of theirs. Our mission team is involved in numerous community events and boards. This community involvement has been helpful when visiting new prospects. People already know about us, and because we are active in the community, they view our church as one that cares. This makes confronting people about the condition of their souls easier and more effective.
We also have implemented the FAITH program, an outreach program designed around Sunday School. It is such a blessing when someone comes to me and says, “Preacher, I used the FAITH outline to witness to someone today.” One of our new Christians participated in the FAITH Program and led three people to Christ in one day.
Our folks love fellowship and simple hospitality provides a wonderful way to meet people. One of the most effective tools we have found is simply to open our home to others. We enjoy many bonfires and food. It is a sweet sight to see a group of new Christians sitting around a fire, singing praises to the Lord. Yes, these methods can be a lot of work, and they can be very costly. Is it worth it? You know it is! We have heard many people pray to be saved beside those bonfires.
On Memorial Day weekend 2005, I announced that we would host a cookout at my home to honor graduating seniors and to celebrate Memorial Day. Everyone was invited and encouraged to bring friends. One hundred and twenty-five people came. That translates into 30 pounds of hamburger and 10 pounds of hot dogs! Out of that number, we met several unsaved people for the first time. As a result of this outreach, a visitor was saved in the next Sunday morning service! It is through efforts like these that we are striving to make a difference for the Lord in our community.
THE GREG FLOARS FAMILY
Greg and Lea Floars are Joint Project Home Missionaries (Michigan) to the Marquette area, specifically the town of Sawyer. Located close to the Canadian border, the Sawyer community, which once served as an Air Force base has planned and developed by the government. Currently, there is only one Lutheran church in the community presenting a tremendous opportunity for establishing a church. Please pray for Greg, Lea, and their children, Laura, Rachel, and Caleb, as they enter their fifth year in Marquette. To find out more about the Sawyer FWB Church, visit their website at www.sawyerfreewillbaptist.com.
At North Point the keys to outreach are attitude and consistency. We approach each event with excitement although we do not expect immediate results. We strive to reach people through consistent efforts. We reach out to the same neighborhoods, the same intersections, the same demographic groups over and over again. These outreach efforts fall under the headings of Kindness Evangelism, Saturation Evangelism, and Event Evangelism.
We give out free water six to eight times a year. We do this at the same time of the day, on the same day of the week, at the same intersection so we can repeat encounters with people. We refuse donations, and I ask our volunteers to “smile like crazy.” A smile often disarms the most skeptical person. The bottles of water are accompanied by a small card with an upbeat message and Scripture on one side and a map to the church and service times on the other.
We conduct saturation outreach events bi-monthly. We visit the same two subdivisions each time. In preparation, we print color postcards or half-sheet sized flyers. The flyers feature the smiling faces of our congregation involved in various church events, along with a map and service times. With approximately 1,000 homes in the two neighborhoods, these saturation events take three to four hours. We have gained a new family from every saturation outreach effort, and many visit the church after receiving more than one flyer.
Another type of saturation outreach is TV advertising. Our commercials run each weekend on the ABC Family and TLC networks, and each commercial ends with the phrase: “North Point Free Will Baptist Church, a place for people like you.”
We host Resurrection Celebrations at Easter, VBS each spring, free community cookouts in the two saturation neighborhoods, and other similar events to become involved in our community.
In short, our attitude is patient but daring. It is our goal to be willing to attempt anything that is pleasing to God to bring others to Christ.
JARVIS AND KELLY REED
Jarvis and Kelly Reed are working to establish a church in Conroe, Texas, a suburb north of Houston. The North Point Free Will Baptist Church is a joint project between Home Missions and Texas State Missions. Jarvis and Kelly have established a long-term goal of starting numerous churches across the Houston Metropolitan Area. More than seven million people in the Houston area could support hundreds of Free Will Baptist churches. Pray for Jarvis, Kelly, and the North Point FWB Church. To find out more about North Point, visit their website at www.npfwb.com. Contact Jarvis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two methods have proven most successful in Fredericksburg, VA, and many people have come to Christ as a result.
The first method is to give out CDs and tapes of our services. Groups visiting door-to-door hand out flyers and a CD with music and preaching from our worship services.
A second method is having “big days.” These events include Friend Day, Co-worker Day, Over 100 Day, Neighbor Day, etc. During each special day, a careful record is kept of all visitors, and each home eventually receives two visits from our church family. Almost everyone who becomes part of our church family expresses deep appreciation that someone cared enough to visit them more than once.
One of the most important ingredients in reaching others is to be genuine and friendly. If someone visits and people refuse to smile, introduce themselves, or demonstrate a caring attitude toward others, the visitors are not likely to return. Many visitors leave our church saying how kind the people were to them. God uses the friendliness of our people!
We also strive to make all aspects of our services top notch. We put our all into the music, kids’ programs, Sunday School, and most important, preaching God’s Holy Word. Colossians 3:23a says: “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord….”
THE PAUL MCKISSICK FAMILY
Paul and Stephanie McKissick are Joint Project missionaries to Fredericksburg, Virginia. Fredericksburg is steeped in American history, especially the Civil War. The population continues to grow, and many tourists visit throughout the year. Please pray for Paul, Stephanie, and their daughter, Abigail, as they start a Free Will Baptist church in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Contact Paul at email@example.com.
During a concentrated study of the Book of Acts, I realized that the early church focused on reaching the entire community. The early church started like a rocket ship leaving the launch pad so we decided to “launch” a church in Yuma rather than “plant” a church.
We decided to grow our church from the outside in. Our target was (and is) the unchurched; We enacted a simple strategy for our “launch.” Over a period of three months, we had two “preview” services leading up to a “grand opening.” The services provided a brief glimpse of what our church would be like when it began. They also helped our team to practice and work out any problem areas. Before our first preview, we sent out 15,000 mailers. Thirty people attended the service and two people were saved! We sponsored a “Comeback Event” at our house the following Sunday evening for those interested in learning more about our church. The second preview service was held a month later and followed by another comeback event.
The key was to build momentum leading up to the launch. We wanted to draw a crowd and turn them into the core of the new church, rather than turning an existing core into a crowd. We steered away from phrases like “core team,” because they sounded too inwardly focused. Instead, we simply called our little group the “Launch Team.” After sending out 30,000 mailers on March 27, 54 attended the launch service and seven were saved.
Since that first service, God has provided a worship pastor, a band, and vocalists. Our services are high-tech with video and music. During the month of May, 25 people visited the church for the first time and five people were saved! By plugging people into ministry immediately, more than half of our congregation serves in some capacity every Sunday. They have embraced the vision, “A Community That Impacts the Community,” the mission of our church. This summer, we planted seeds in the community through Servant Evangelism, random acts of kindness in Jesus’ name. One example: On Tax Day, we handed out free stamps and bottled water at the local post office. We made it our goal to touch 500 people a week through servant evangelism, and we are praying for a great harvest!
THE JASON TAYLOR FAMILY
Jason and Melissa Taylor recently started a Free Will Baptist Church in Yuma, Arizona. The city of Yuma is one of the fastest growing areas in the United States and has a large Hispanic population. Jason and Melissa are excited by the potential of the work in Yuma. To learn more about their church, visit their site at www.yumacommunitychurch.com or Contact Jason firstname.lastname@example.org.