Vacationing church members take Gospel focus with them
ERLANGER, Ky. (BP) -- Members of Erlanger Baptist Church are packing more than sunscreen, beach umbrellas and swim suits as they prepare for vacation this summer.
"We talked about being ambassadors all the time," said pastor B.J. Donahue. "Over the summer we're going into the community and we recognize all our families go somewhere else for the summer on vacation."
They have put up a map in the church's Christian Life Center and put push pins to indicate where members are going on vacation. The EBC bag includes a Three Circles evangelism script to practice, a devotional that focuses on when you are on vacation that you are being a gospel light wherever you go, Donahue said. There is also candy to pass out and a Three Circles diagram. See related story.
Members can also provide the church with an email or cellphone number to receive daily texts with devotional thoughts.
"We want them to understand there are gospel opportunities in front of them," he said. "Anything and everything we can do to help people remember they go with the Gospel wherever the Lord takes them, even on vacation."
Donahue said he went to the internet to search for articles about living out the gospel presence on vacation -- but his search came up empty. So he wrote some tips on his own and provides the list in the vacation bag. Donahue and another church member, Jen Means, wrote the devotionals and created the list.
"If you are standing in line at Disney World waiting for It's a Small World [ride], why not strike up a gospel conversation?" he said. "We're trying to get out to people to think that they are missionaries at all times, to have a gospel aroma at all times. Everywhere they go is an opportunity."
That goes for when they come home, too, he said.
The church has a goal of knocking on 7,700 doors to reach the more than 16,000 who are unchurched in Erlanger alone. On Wednesday (June 26) he had 40 individuals making up 13 different teams who went out to intentionally share the Gospel.
Most of them have taken Three Circles evangelistic training, and church members are coming back with impactful stories about the conversations they had with others in the community, Donahue said.
"There is an excitement that I'm seeing which is really, really cool," he said. "We're going to hit this really hard in June, July and August."
He said the church's youth group has been an enthusiastic part of the community outreach. "They were running around all excited," he said.
The second-year Erlanger Baptist Church pastor said he received valuable lessons from Kentucky Baptist Convention resources including Todd Gray, an evangelism leader, and Rob Patterson, the north central region consultant.
Gray's experience and expertise with door-to-door evangelism has been invaluable, he said. He spoke with Patterson about offering the intentional guidance for believers while on vacation.
Donahue said as he's gone through training he's becoming more evangelistic, too. "Before I was like, you bring them in and I'm going to teach them the Word. Now I'm becoming so much more evangelistic. We have a great opportunity here."