ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)–Niche marketing is not just a business term. Creative pastors are finding ways to discover a niche to reach their communities for Christ.
One pastor, Stan Wyant, discovered a niche in his community.
In his state of Louisiana, everyone born after Sept. 1, 1969 is required to take a hunter’s safety course before hunting. In a state known as the “Sportsman’s Paradise,” Stan found a need his church could meet, and the congregation began plans to host a two-day course.
In the end, 90 people not affiliated with the church, Lismore Baptist, came to the course. That’s nearly as many people as attend Sunday School any given week. In fact, the course was in such demand some of the attendees drove over an hour to be there.
At the conclusion of the course, the church sponsored a skeet shoot and an archery contest. As the participants ate lunch, a guest speaker presented the Gospel. Church members gave Bibles and gospel tracts to all who attended.
Dwayne Rodgers is another pastor who discovered a niche. The cowboys and ranchers of his community were not attending a traditional church. Knowing that someone needed to reach this group of folks, Dwayne led his church to start the Cross Branded Cowboy Church. The new fellowship meets for events like team roping at a local riding club.
My seven-year-old daughter and I attended one of the events. She loved the horses and said the bulls were so pretty (my daughter is definitely a city girl). Soon we were meeting other parents with children and making new friends. As the action began, children and adults alike were laughing and enjoying themselves while cheering for the cowboys and cowgirls on a humid, central Louisiana evening.
After the first round of roping was over, the gates were opened and a pickup with a flatbed trailer in tow pulled in front of the bleachers. The Cross Branded Cowboy band played a few songs and then Pastor Dwayne presented the Gospel.
Both of these pastors discovered something important. Evangelism doesn’t happen by accident — it must be intentional. There is a place for “touch” events, where the community is invited to attend with no other purpose than to get people to take the first step to come on our church grounds. But, if we get to the place where all we do is touch events, without a mechanism for sharing the Gospel, then we have lost our focus.
Both of these pastors evaluated the gifts, talents and resources of their church members and utilized them to meet a need in their community.
Evangelism doesn’t have to be boring. Sometimes it can be quite loud and spectacular. If churches will see a need, be moved with compassion to meet that need, and apply their resources to it, God will change lives through them. In fact, God can even take a gun or a bull and use it for his glory.
Keith Manuel is an evangelism associate on the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s evangelism & church growth team.