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Md. churches, via GPS, share Gospel

WALDORF, Md. (BP)–Nine-year-old John Drawdy’s left hand is wrapped in a soft cast to hold a fractured thumb in place. “He did that before the [baseball] game and then played the game anyway,” his father said, explaining the days-old injury.

John’s other hand is insulated in a hunting glove, perfect for the lingering cold of a Maryland winter. One of five children in a family of seven, John is with his parents, Robert and Jennifer, and Logan, 9, and Miranda, 4, as they round a corner on Wakefield Circle.

Carefully navigating front lawns, the family fans out through a neighborhood to fit doorknobs with bags of “Find it Here” material and information about First Baptist Church of St. Charles, a Southern Baptist congregation in Waldorf, Md., a bedroom community outside Washington, D.C.

An invitation to Easter Sunday services is a key facet of the materials locally and across the country.

“I’m glad I could be here passing out these pamphlets,” John said, pulling a literature-filled bag from the supply hanging from his injured hand. Already an hour into the project, the Drawdys have met some residents with an unflattering view of God. “I hope one family who said ‘Who cares about God?’ can know God.”

More than 80 volunteers showed up at 9 a.m. at First Baptist on March 27, double the number who showed the weekend before for prayerwalking.

First Baptist is among an array of churches nationwide engaged in Southern Baptists’ “God’s Plan for Sharing” initiative (GPS) in hopes their auditoriums will fill with people to hear the Gospel of Christ on Easter, April 4.

“We know cards and flyers don’t save people, but we believe God can use these things to draw people to Him,” pastor Fred Caudle said.

God’s Plan for Sharing materials also provide information linked to a toll-free 800 number and a website with a presentation of the Gospel.

Designed for adaptability and ease, the 10-year GPS effort developed by the North American Mission Board in conjunction with state conventions provides strategy and resources to help churches work together to reach their communities for Christ. In addition, NAMB developed the “Find it Here” advertising campaign and funded $1.2 million in media buys which was coupled with an additional half million dollars from state conventions. In all, more than 24,000 TV spots, more than 7,000 radio spots, print ads, billboards, yard signs and banners have boosted the initiative.

GPS’ missional approach to evangelism, which fits any context from tundra to tropic, small town to urban context, aims at awakening believers to their role in evangelism and nonbelievers to their need for Christ.

Pastor Calvin Johnson who leads Lighthouse Baptist Church in Waldorf reported that the congregation ventured out for outreach on two consecutive weeknights.

“A lot of our church works on Saturdays in [Washington] D.C. so we were able to go into some areas after 6 p.m. that we’d never visited before,” Lighthouse evangelism director Angela Taylor said. “One night it was rainy and cold, and a few people would walk to the other side of the street when they saw us coming. But we had some good receptivity and our people got to see some places they’d never been.

“And for a lot of them, this was their first time doing something like this.”

An hour south, pastor Joe Blanton gets ready with a small group at Cobb Island Baptist Church, situated in a fishing and resort community on the Chesapeake Bay.

The group of 10 canvassed half the island the weekend before and are ready to spend the morning hours of March 27 reaching the other half.

Blanton rehearses assignments, pointing to a self-drawn map sketched on poster board. The group is joined by two youth on inline skates.

By 1 p.m. a plastic bag flaps on several hundred doorknobs, and the pastor, his wife and another couple are setting up for the showing of a movie that the church advertised through the outreach earlier in the day.

“The strength of this approach is that it gets our churches into communities they might not otherwise visit,” said Richard Logsdon, director of missions for the St. Charles Baptist Association. “This will plant a seed in the hearts of our communities and in the hearts of our congregations, and we hope they’ll never see their cities the same way again.”
Adam Miller is a writer for the North American Mission Board. For more on Southern Baptists’ “God’s Plan for Sharing” campaign, visit www.gps2020.net or www.findithere.com. For more on what other churches are doing related to GPS, visit www.namb.net/gpsstories.

    About the Author

  • Adam Miller