EL CAJON, Calif. (BP)–Carrying a gift, 1,700 members of Shadow Mountain Community Church fanned out across the city of El Cajon two by two on a mission to distribute a Bible to each of the San Diego-area city’s 30,000 homes.
Church members were treated to a breakfast the Saturday before Easter, prayed over and sent out to deliver gift bags with an invitation to church and a custom-designed Bible.
The primary goal was “to sow the seed,” said John Gillette Jr., the church’s chief operations officer and men’s ministry pastor. “We did have people pray with people and lead them to Christ but we just wanted to sow the seed and let God do the rest.”
More than 33,000 Bibles were distributed to homes, apartments and trailers.
Attendance at the church increased by about 2,000 on Easter Sunday, bringing their attendance to 12,000.
“We know God worked amazingly through that outreach. We saw people all over church carrying the Bibles we gave away,” Gillette recounted.
The yellow Bibles couldn’t be missed. Published at a cost of about $2 each, the Bibles relayed the plan of salvation on the front page, directions and service times on the back cover and answers to tough questions inside.
“At one time or other, people may look at this Bible and need the answers,” said Gillette, who spearheaded the outreach.
Shadow Mountain’s staff began making plans for Easter several months ago as senior pastor David Jeremiah was winding down a “Route 66” series on the 66 books of the Bible.
“We decided since we just did a series on the Bible that would be the best gift we could give anyone,” Gillette said.
Before the outreach, Gillette took a helicopter ride over El Cajon with a videographer to show as a promotion to church members underscoring the city as their mission field.
Members who signed up to distribute the Bibles were assigned a section of 35-50 houses. Each participant was sent a letter noting who their partner would be and how to access a website, based on a post office database, where they could find out what streets they would cover. Members without computers could use computers set up on campus after church services to get their streets.
“We did this to let people go ahead and prayerwalk over their area,” Gillette said. “We paired men with men and had couples, families go together.”
The church also offered three different evangelism training sessions before the outreach.
The volunteers were sent out in two waves after breakfast at the church, at 8 a.m. and at 9:15 a.m., and a command center was set up to deal with any problems.
Busloads of junior high students and high school students were sent to apartment complexes with adults. “We wanted to make sure everyone was safe so we made sure it was daylight and everyone was supervised,” Gillette said.
“We never told anyone to go over a locked fence or trespass,” he added.
Some streets were not identified correctly or couldn’t be found, so volunteers were reassigned.
“Everyone was energized when they returned,” Gillette said.
But not everyone was able to personally give a Bible to somebody.
About half of the residents did not answer the door and some refused to receive the Bible.
“It was a good experience for our members to see that Jesus was not always accepted,” Gillette said, adding, “… [T]hey will grow from it. I told them not everyone is waiting at home for Shadow Mountain to knock on their door on a Saturday morning to give them a free Bible.”
Another church nearby, Sonrise Church in Santee, followed suit by giving away 19,000 Bibles in their community.
“We praise the Lord for what He has done,” said Gillette, who has been asked what outreach the church may attempt next year. “We don’t know what we’ll do,” he said, “but we know God will produce the fruit.”