Knocking on doors anchors church's 6-day outreach

by Ben Hawkins/The Pathway, posted Monday, August 26, 2019 (3 months ago)
Tags: evangelism

Volunteers paint the walls of the Christian Activity Center in East St. Louis in one of the service projects initiated by the St. Louis-area First Baptist Church in O'Fallon in its Engage O'Fallon six-day outreach.
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O'FALLON, Mo. (BP) -- Hundreds heard the Gospel during the Engage O'Fallon evangelistic initiative organized by First Baptist Church in the St. Louis-area town of O'Fallon.

Engage O'Fallon -- modeled after the Southern Baptist Convention's Crossover outreach in the host city of each year's SBC annual meeting -- is part of FBC O'Fallon's effort to reach the 20,000 homes in their ZIP code.

Northside Baptist Church in Columbia, Tenn., also sent a team to O'Fallon to help with the six-day Engage O'Fallon and learn how to adapt it for reaching the lost in their city.

During Engage O'Fallon, volunteers from the church participated in one of four local mission projects each weekday morning. They also held a five-day Backyard Bible Club hosting 75 children. They prayerwalked the community for a total of 75 hours and visited 122 local businesses to offer encouragement and help. And they knocked on doors at a neighborhood apartment complex to offer help with practical needs, returning to complete 12 service projects that were requested.

Then, after evangelism training in the early afternoon, volunteers canvassed the community -- knocking on doors, sharing the Gospel and inviting them to a Summer Fest block party that the church hosted. Throughout the week of July 22-27, 1,491 homes were contacted; more than 350 unchurched people attended the Summer Fest; and nine people made professions of faith in Christ.

The notion that door-to-door evangelism no longer works in 21st-century United States couldn't be further from the truth, said Brandon Kiesling, associate pastor of young adults at FBC O'Fallon. For five years before moving to O'Fallon, Kiesling saw the effectiveness of door-to-door evangelism -- especially when coupled with service projects -- while leading SBC Crossover efforts for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

"A lot of churches are hesitant to do door-to-door evangelism because they're afraid of the response -- that it would be negatively perceived by the community or that the church would have a negative experience doing it," Kiesling told The Pathway, newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.

"Don't let that fear keep you from doing something like this," he said, "because the experience overwhelmingly was positive for not only the church members who participated, but also for the overwhelming amount of people we visited on the street."

In a daily report, FBC pastor Michael Atherton shared the story of Steve, a longtime Catholic who worked hard to be a good husband, father and business owner. Steve believed his good works would ensure his salvation, but volunteers from FBC O'Fallon shared Ephesians 2:8-10 with him. "So you're saying my goodness won't get me into heaven," Steve replied, "but rather a relationship with Christ will?"

"At the end of their conversation," Atherton wrote, "Steve prayed and received Christ into his heart!"

But the spiritually blind in O'Fallon weren't the only ones to have their eyes opened during Engage O'Fallon. One teenage volunteer from FBC O'Fallon asked someone what qualities in a church would attract him to attend. "I am really not sure," the man replied. "I have never even really thought about looking for a church." The teenage girl was dumbfounded by the existence of people in the church's own neighborhood who had never even considered attending a church.

"The lostness of our world," Atherton wrote, "came into full focus, and God has used this situation to capture this young woman's attention."

Through their continuing evangelism efforts, the ministers and members at FBC O'Fallon are laboring to give everyone in their community the opportunity to consider coming to church -- and, most importantly, to consider following Jesus as their loving Savior and Lord.

Ben Hawkins is associate editor of The Pathway (mbcpathway.com), newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.
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