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Hispanic church planted from outreach

COLLEYVILLE, Texas (BP)–A reported 340 salvation decisions were made during the annual Mission Colleyville Christmas outreach, and the number continues to climb as follow-up strategies are carried out by First Baptist Church in Colleyville, a suburb halfway between Dallas and Fort Worth.

“It was a wonderful thing … to see the entire front of the church full of people making decisions,” Ron Cogburn said.

Cogburn, a member of FBC Colleyville, was part of the team who birthed Mission Colleyville six years ago. The outreach involves an evangelism event followed by practical ministry to needy families.

This year, anticipating that the Lord would move mightily, FBC Colleyville asked Roland Johnson to help start a Hispanic church plant with the fruit of the Mission Colleyville efforts, which have attracted large numbers of Hispanic families.

FBC Colleyville’s pastor, Craig Etheredge, said the purpose of Mission Colleyville is to share the Gospel and show the love of Christ to the people who might not otherwise be able to purchase items for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“We had hundreds of volunteers who worked hard. It was neat to see all [their work] go towards building a new church,” Etheredge said. “It’s a real blessing to have 70 percent of the decisions from unchurched. Through the follow-up, we hoped to help birth a new church,” Etheredge said.

Planning begins months in advance as church members pray, commit resources and tackling various volunteer tasks for the event, such as the “blitz days” when fliers are distributed in apartment complexes.

“Even right up to the moment where people were walking into the services, church members were covering it in prayer,” Etheredge said.

On Nov. 17, the Saturday before Thanksgiving, a carnival and three consecutive worship services were held at the church. Hispanic evangelist Homer Martinez preached in English and Spanish to an estimated crowd of 3,500. During the evening services 18 people were baptized.

Attendees registered to receive vouchers for the toy store, which was open to the community Nov. 29-Dec. 1 while church members distributed free turkeys to the 1,630 families who registered to receive them.

Cogburn said 500 new families participated in the toy store this year. As families shopped in the toy story, opportunities to share the Gospel and encourage attendance at the new church plant were plentiful.

“It was a time to share not just the physical bread, but more important, the bread of Christ, the spiritual bread,” Johnson said.

The church distributed more than 11,000 toys to 1,600 families at the toy store. Families were assigned a volunteer “personal shopper” who would assist them as they chose age-appropriate toys for their children.

Before leaving the store, families were led to a gift-wrapping table, where as their gifts were wrapped, the Gospel was presented. As a result of the one-on-one evangelism, 20 people made salvation decisions at the toy store.

“The number of decisions climbs every year,” Cogburn said. “This is a sustainable ministry that reaches our community. We’re able to reach across all social and ethnic lines and be the hands and feet of Jesus.”

For example, 100 people have signed up for the free GED classes through the church.

A crucial part of the Mission Colleyville strategy is the follow-up with those who made decisions as well as toy store attendees. Within 48 hours, people who made decisions were contacted by church members. Within a week, volunteers have visited the homes of everyone who made decisions, inviting them to church and encouraging them to make plans for baptism.

When Roland Johnson visited the home of a young girl who had made a decision at Mission Colleyville, he shared the Gospel with her mother, who made a profession of faith.

“We are constantly telling people about the new church plant,” Johnson said.

Some 180 people who made decisions during the services indicated they were without a church home, accelerating the progress of the new Hispanic church through FBC Colleyville.

The new Hispanic church has held two services, with 35 people attending each service. Currently, the church plant is forming a core group. They are meeting in a home with space to accommodate 40 comfortably. But the group is already seeing growth, and plans are being made to move to a larger space.

“We look forward to the great things ahead,” Johnson said. “We’re beginning to see consistency. It’s an exciting feeling, and we will continue to follow up.”

The church plans to continue hosting Mission Colleyville next year, and is currently evaluating the strategy to see if there are additional ways for more people to be reached.

“There are so many opportunities [for evangelism] right in our neighborhood,” Cogburn said.
Stacey Billger, a writer in Alexandria, La., wrote this story for the Southern Baptist TEXAN, newspaper of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

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  • Stacey Billger