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Churches across U.S. report GPS advance

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–John* cried throughout the phone message he left for Living Branch Community Fellowship in Englewood, Colo., thanking the church for leaving the flyer on his door. He described how it caused him to think about his life and he talked about how he believed in Jesus, but had fallen into sin.

John received one of nearly 600 Find it Here door hangers that Living Branch Fellowship distributed the week before Easter to the high concentration of apartment complexes near the church. The effort was part of Southern Baptists’ nationwide “Across North America” campaign as part of its multi-year God’s Plan for Sharing evangelistic initiative.

As pastor Steve Scott and the church’s ministry team listened to the message, John’s tone turned desperate. Speaking of “knowing what he needed to do,” it was obvious he meant to harm himself. But without a phone number or address, the church was helpless. Or so they thought.

“So we did what we could,” Scott said. “We prayed.”

Trusting God with the outcome, the church shared John’s phone call as a prayer request during a revival service that night. The next morning, John called back and left another message, leaving his phone number this time. The church was able to contact John and share with him the love, forgiveness and hope found in Christ Jesus. John attended the church’s men’s breakfast the next morning and shared with them, “The door hanger saved my life!”

Churches whose members participated in the pre-Easter GPS (God’s Plan for Sharing) evangelism outreach will be logging results for months to come, but even initial reports received at the North American Mission Board indicate that lives were touched and changed by the effort.

An estimated 15 million pieces of literature were distributed in neighborhoods throughout the United States and Canada as Southern Baptists fanned out across their communities the week before Easter. In previous weeks, congregations prayerwalked neighborhoods near their church. The emphasis also included more than 24,000 airings of a NAMB-produced television ad, 7,000 radio spots, print ads, yard signs and banners.

The literature and advertisements pointed viewers to a website — www.findithere.com — and a toll-free phone number — 1-800-JESUS20 — with a focus on connecting unchurched people with a local Southern Baptist congregation. From reports received from churches throughout the United States, that’s exactly what happened.

“Based on what we’re hearing from our partners in the churches, associations and state conventions, GPS has gotten off to an amazing start,” Frank Page, vice president for evangelization at NAMB, said of the 10-year evangelism initiative.

“The stories we are hearing of how God worked are reason for celebration. I am confident that the Gospel seeds that were sown these last few weeks will bring a harvest into Southern Baptist churches that we have not seen in many years,” Page said.

Page, as president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 2006-08, called on NAMB to work with state and local partners to develop an emphasis that would place evangelism at the top of the Southern Baptist agenda again in the United States and Canada. The call came at a time when the SBC had experienced several years of declining baptisms.

“This first year of GPS is reminding us that God is still using Southern Baptists and showing us that Southern Baptists still want to be used by Him,” Page said.


Crescent City Rock Church is a new church plant in Metairie, La., which drew 218 people at its “grand opening” services on Easter Sunday. The plant, which meets in a Metairie YMCA, was started with only 40 members.

“We used GPS as the tool to launch our pilot church,” pastor Jim Louviere said, reflecting on the flexibility of the 2010 GPS campaign. “Starting March 15, we had as many as four mission teams of 100 people who came in from Alabama and Texas and helped us distribute 15,000 door hangers and Easter service invitations in the Metairie area. On April 2, we had 50 mission teams of college students distributing 10,000 more packages for a total of 25,000.”

Metairie, in Jefferson Parish just west of New Orleans, encompasses 450,000 people; “200,000 of them are not part of any church at all,” Louviere said. “A lot of people in this area are lost. There is an acceptance of religions and religious culture but no relationship with Jesus. People don’t understand what it means to be born again. A big challenge for us as a church is to get past religion.”

At Ouachita Baptist Church in West Monroe, La., pastor Dennis Hensley had set a goal of 500 in attendance for Easter services. Well over 500 attended, eclipsing the church’s existing attendance record of 280.

Steve Kelley, pastor of Bayou Vista Baptist Church, Morgan City, La., reported the highest attendance ever on Easter, highlighted by four professions of faith.

Keith Manuel, evangelism associate for the Louisiana Baptist Convention, said churches in Louisiana will use some 7,500 copies of Lee Strobel’s “The Case for Christ” DVD as a GPS follow-up tool for prospects.

Manuel said Louisiana’s initiative, “Sharing the Peace of Jesus,” was more than worth the effort. Louisiana churches distributed some 500,000 door hangers, Gospel presentations and church invitations on March 20 and March 27. Manuel said the initiative was so successful, Louisiana Baptists will repeat it again this coming fall.


“Halloween falls on Sunday this year,” Manuel said. “We’re suggesting that churches take the same GPS materials and repeat the same steps in October. Prayerwalking would be done on Oct. 23 and on Oct. 30, Gospel presentations and church invitations would be distributed, promoting Halloween alternatives at churches on Oct. 31.”

In Ohio, the Baptist Association of Greater Cincinnati reported that several of its churches had record Easter attendance after participating in GPS.

“The great effect was on the attitudes and behaviors of our own people,” said Bill Mountsier, pastor of First Baptist Church in Mason, Ohio. “Over the past couple of weeks, we have had stories of people sharing their faith and inviting people to church like at no other time since I have been here. Even I had far more discussions with acquaintances about our church because of my heightened awareness for the Gospel through my life. It was a lot of work, time and money for the direct results, but it is my prayer that the indirect results will be with us for a long time.”

Rolling Hills Baptist Church, which averages 300 in attendance, trusted God for the ability to distribute 15,000 door hangers throughout their community of Fairfield, Ohio. More than 200 church members pitched in to help. Easter attendance in children’s worship more than doubled and attendance in the adult service increased dramatically, with several indicating the invitation left at their door brought them in. Attendance the week after Easter was up 50 over average attendance.

One visitor brought her brother who was visiting from out of town. “I’m missing something in my life, and I need what they have,” she said she had told her husband that morning. “I’m going to church.”

Rolling Hills pastor Danny Rollins said his church was humbled by God’s blessings through the outreach. “Our people are energized and touched as they’ve seen firsthand the needs of our community up close and personal as they’ve prayerwalked and distributed door hangars.”


Kentucky Baptists blanketed their state, distributing more than a million Gospel presentations along with invitations to church. Already, nearly 2,000 response cards have arrived at the state convention office as a result of the outreach — with 508 indicating decisions for Christ — and encouraging reports continue to come in from churches throughout the state.

Liberty Point Baptist Church in Cadiz, Ky., rented a local theater for their Easter service so guests who might not feel comfortable in a church building would attend. While normally averaging 200 or so in attendance, the church drew 380 people on Easter Sunday. About half indicated they were not members or regular attenders and 21 indicated decisions for Christ.

Pastor Larry Butler of Victory Baptist Church in Henderson, Ky., visited the home of a local resident who had responded to a card his church left.

“She opened the door and said she’d been praying all day that someone would come visit her that day,” Butler said. “I shared the plan of salvation and she accepted Christ as her Savior.”

While Butler shared with the woman, her 22-year-old son and his girlfriend, an atheist, entered the house. Butler shared Christ with the two of them as well and the next Sunday all three — mother, son and atheist girlfriend — visited Victory Baptist.

Fred Caudle, pastor of First Baptist Church of St. Charles in Waldorf, Md., saw an awakening church and community as members took hold of a vision for making Christ known to their city.

“Easter we saw 13 new families,” said Caudle, whose congregation canvassed its community the weekend before Easter with Find it Here fliers and information about First Baptist.


The simplicity of God’s Plan for Sharing — simply hanging information on residents’ doors — provided local churches with an evangelistic approach that sent them outside with friends and family and got them interacting with people they otherwise wouldn’t have met.

“Once you see people in your community it burdens you,” said Richard Logsdon, director of missions for the Potomac Baptist Association. “Churches are now excited about doing more outreach. This simple approach encouraged them that a little work like that can show some immediate results.”

By design, GPS is flexible and intended for use in a variety of contexts. While a handful of churches in Maryland participated in a concerted effort in the weeks leading up to Easter, even more churches in the area will begin their work later in the spring, some will participate in the summer and even more will head out into their communities in the fall.

“I think that God has used this to stir up the hearts of the churches,” said Ellen Udovich, church and communities missionary with the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware. “I can’t wait to see what will happen next how God will continue to move and direct each congregation.”

Udovich added, “Not to exaggerate, but for some churches, this has come as a breath of fresh air, a breath of the Holy Spirit.

“This is not the Bible Belt –- if GPS can be a simple tool for helping our churches accomplish their mission, it can be helpful to churches everywhere,” Udovich said. “The effect it has had on our churches will be significant and long-lasting.”

The week leading up to Easter, Hispanic Baptists in Kansas blanketed an area from Garden City, Kan., to the panhandle of Oklahoma with prayer and Find it Here materials.

Enrique Bluvan, Hispanic church planter strategist for the Western Kansas Baptist Association, had been challenging churches to participate in the GPS outreach since the beginning of the year.

In Garden City, the Hispanic outreach began with prayerwalking two weeks before Easter. Then during the week leading up to Easter, 30 teams distributed 1,200 GPS packets in Spanish. Bluvan displayed a map of Garden City that showed how he divided the city into areas for teams to cover. They went out in the mornings and again in the evenings — walking, praying and sharing the Gospel. Joining the outreach effort were three people from Juarez, Mexico. The teams in Garden City led 18 people to Christ.

“I’m excited,” Bluvan said of GPS. “I love it.”

Out of 1.5 million homes throughout the state, Alabama Baptists visited 950,000 as part of the GPS evangelism effort, praying for homeowners and placing plastic bags filled with information about their churches and an invitation to Easter services.


“This has been the greatest concentrated effort to get the Gospel to everyone in the state in this state’s history,” said Sammy Gilbreath, director of evangelism and discipleship for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions.

“We’ve had hundreds of churches that have called to tell us what happened during the prayerwalking, the Gospel distribution and on Easter Sunday,” Gilbreath recounted. “We’ve had churches where entire families came to know Christ as the result of one person who responded and accepted Christ, and then went back and led their mother, their dad, sister, brother and grandparents to Christ.”

Several churches have indicated they plan to repeat the process this summer leading up to Vacation Bible School.

“GPS has become an incredible tool,” Gilbreath said. “Our churches in Alabama have gotten out of the building and back into their communities for the first time in a long time. And they now recognize the lostness of their immediate communities.

“While some churches may not have seen results yet, they have seeded their community with the Gospel,” Gilbreath said.

NAMB’s Evangelism Response Center recorded more than 5,000 calls from March 1–April 8, which resulted in 186 salvation decisions and another 296 inquiries about salvation in Jesus Christ. GPS is a long-term strategy rolling out over the course of 10 years with the goal of every believer sharing, every person hearing by the year 2020.
*Name changed. Compiled by the North American Mission Board’s communications staff. To read more reports about Across North America, visit www.namb.net/gpsstories.

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