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Memphis church’s inner-city outreach leads to baptisms

One Faith Christian Center pastor Barron Martin prepares to baptize a new believer.

MEMPHIS (BP) – Barron Martin, lead pastor of One Faith Christian Center, said he is blown away at the way his small church plant has been able to impact its community and spread the Gospel.

“Man, it’s been amazing,” Martin said. “I can’t describe the feeling, other than to say that I give God all the glory. Every ministry wants to feel like they are being successful in their efforts. So, for us to be seeing the fruits come from our outreach projects – that’s the reward within itself.”

The church’s outreach efforts led to around 50 baptisms last year, and 2020 looks to be another successful year. The secret is targeted events named after specific communities – events like “Jesus loves Frayser” and “Jesus Loves Millington.”

At these events, the church provides giveaways, including hygiene products, gently used clothing and household items, while sharing the Gospel with all who attend. Martin said on some occasions, the church has given away appliances that were donated to the church.

“These projects are something we’ve gotten into a routine of doing since we started our church,” he said. “Typically, what we do is we go out once a month into the inner city to evangelize and to serve the needs of that community. We’ve gotten into a groove with it and kind of found our niche with this. And the Holy Spirit is just blessing us as we continue to move forward.”

The church is partnering with local schools as a means “of walking alongside them and being involved with those students and their families,” Martin said.

Before the school year, the church was able to give away almost 300 backpacks filled with school supplies to families in the inner city areas of Memphis. The church baptized five new believers as a result of that outreach, which was supported by the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board (TBMB) and several Memphis-area churches.

Steve Pearson, evangelism specialist for the TBMB, said he believes other churches can learn from the example that One Faith is setting.

“Isn’t this what every church in every community should be doing?” Pearson said. “As a church, you want to so impact your community that if you were to close your doors, the people in your community would scream and holler.”

Pearson said being a positive influence and winning people to Jesus is sometimes far simpler than people think.

“It’s really easy: Find a need and fill it,” Pearson said. “Start with the local schools. People say, ‘But we can’t share Jesus on the campus.’ That’s true. But you sure can look like Him!”

One Faith events typically feature three tents. At the first tent, attendees fill out information, including their addresses and social media accounts. That enables the church to stay in touch with the families. At another tent, attendees hear the Gospel. At the third tent, they receive the giveaways provided by the church.

Martin said the Gospel is shared in a variety of ways at each event – face-to-face conversations, Gospel tracts, prayer and more. At each event, his team will compile a list of names and contact information for follow-up.

“Our goal is to lead individuals to Christ and baptism, with hopes to get them involved in our local church,” he said.

Pearson said that the TBMB has evangelism resources available for churches interested in doing similar events. They can be set up by following a relatively easy formula, he said.

“It starts with prayer. We must first talk to God about people before we ever talk to people about God,” he said.

Pearson said the second step is defining the objective of the event.

“Is it to disciple people that are already believers or is it an event to engage the community for the purpose of getting to know and show love to your community in Jesus’ name?” he said.

The final steps are to gather information for follow-up purposes and, “most importantly, equip your people to have Gospel conversations,” he said.

Martin said using social media to promote the events is one of the biggest keys to having a good turnout.

“When you use social media the proper way, God will bless it,” he said. “Other churches have been watching what we’re doing – and by that I mean, they’ve been hearing about it on social media – and it shows. For instance, one of the churches that had seen what we were doing on social media was Collierville (First) Baptist Church, and they donated 60 backpacks.”

Martin said the church plans to build on its success.

“The Lord has been so gracious to us,” he said. “We are a small church plant and we are just getting ourselves established. But we are seeing fruit from our efforts, and we feel extremely blessed by that.”