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New Orleans seminary/church door-to-door evangelism outreach sees high return

Darryl Brown, front row left, assistant director of evangelism at Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, is joined by Senior Associate Pastor Chip Luter, center; New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary evangelism professor Preston Nix, first row right, and NOBTS students as they participate in door-to-door and street evangelism in New Orleans East during the spring 2024 semester.

NEW ORLEANS (BP) – New Orleans seminary professor Preston Nix cites his divine conviction of the need for neighborhood evangelism during his pastorate at Eastwood Baptist Church in Tulsa, Okla., in the mid-1990s.

It occurred when he knocked on the door of a home in the shadow of Eastwood’s steeple.

New Orleans seminary evangelism professor Preston Nix with Larrielle Holmes, 11, who accepted Christ during community evangelism.

“They literally were seeing the steeple of our church and didn’t know who we were, and nobody had ever contacted them from our church,” Nix recalled of the family living there. “They said, ‘We love your church. We see your steeple and we just wonder who’s in that church.’”

His epiphany helps drive his extracurricular door-to-door evangelism as a professor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Each semester, he invites students from across the campus to join him in volunteer evangelism each Thursday afternoon in a New Orleans neighborhood, flavoring the outreach by partnering with a neighborhood church in support of the congregation’s ministry.

Spring Semester 2024, he partnered with Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in Thursday evangelism outreaches in New Orleans East, reaping a harvest of 40 souls in initial visits and follow-ups with new converts and sometimes their families. It was the second most fruitful semester in the outreaches’ 19-year history, outpaced only by evangelism in partnership with Edgewater Baptist Church in Gentilly.

“A lot of people will say door-to-door evangelism or street evangelism – which we do both – will not work in today’s society,” said Nix, whose many roles at NOBTS include professor of evangelism and preaching, and the Roland Q. Leavell Chair of Evangelism.

“Here’s what I say: ‘It won’t work if you won’t work it.’”

At Franklin Avenue, Nix’s conviction met with the zeal of Darryl Brown, the church’s assistant director of evangelism. Brown, along with Franklin Avenue evangelism director Troy Reed, had been looking to expand the church’s evangelism ministry beyond storefront witnessing and community evangelism Fridays and Saturdays.

Darryl Brown, far right, assistant director of evangelism at Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans shares the Gospel with residents in the church’s New Orleans East neighborhood.

Brown, now 64, shares an account of his come-to-Jesus moment while leaving a bar earlier than usual as a 19-year-old. Having grown up in church, he had taken to arriving at church only in time to hear the sermon, typically after a night of partying.

“One night I had an experience with the Lord. I did not know it was Him,” Brown recalls 45 years later. “I knew I was empty, but I knew when I got home early, before midnight, I knew that the Lord was speaking to my heart and letting me know I did not have Him, even though I was a church member. But I was lost.

“It was such a glorious salvation that I told the Lord, ‘I want to share this with other people,’” Brown said. God suddenly began answering his prayer, Brown recalls, allowing him to lead people to Christ at the hotel where he served as a concierge while attending college, arranging for him to join the local mail carrier in evangelism outreaches in a local park on weekends, and maintaining his fire for evangelism 45 years to date.

Brown’s heart for the lost is so palpable he shed tears telling Baptist Press of salvations experienced during outreaches with Nix, joined by as many as 13 NOBTS students and just as many members of Franklin Avenue’s volunteer evangelism team.

“We’ve met so many great families, so many children…” his sentence interrupted by tears. “Some beautiful families hurting, in need of salvation.”

He had never seen so many children living in the area – that sees a high rate of transition – in the four years his team had already been ministering there.

A month after partnering with Nix, Franklin Avenue’s evangelism team expanded to conduct outreaches every weekday and two Saturdays a month, Brown said.

New Orleans seminary evangelism professor Preston Nix, far right, leads volunteers in prayer before the group’s weekly evangelism outreach.

Helping churches reach their communities is a main goal of Nix’s partnerships. NOBTS students identify themselves as volunteering with the church, not only giving them in-roads in communities where they are not known, but also helping the church reach its community with the Gospel.

“The Lord led me to New Orleans East to ask (Senior Associate Pastor) Chip (Luter) if we could partner with them,” Nix said. “God blesses obedience, and particularly does He bless obedience to the Great Commission.

“He’s blessing Franklin Avenue Baptist Church,” Nix said, because of the church’s faithfulness in going out into its community and its desire to do more. “We were a catalyst in helping them do what they wanted to do.”

The number of NOBTS students who have joined Nix each semester over the years has ranged from 1 to about 15, some to meet class requirements of sharing the Gospel, and others who see evangelism as a requirement of Christianity.

Brown commended the students for their willingness to serve in the area that experiences high crime, and applauded members of his evangelism team who have made sacrifices to serve during the week.

Each Thursday of the outreach, the group meets at Franklin Avenue to pray before heading out to Coronet Court, as Brown has nicknamed the community. For each salvation, a contact card provides the church with sufficient information to conduct follow-up visits.

Nix counts 35 decisions for Christ during the initial visits. But with follow-ups, Brown said, the total salvations are 40 or more. Many of those who professed Christ have attended Franklin Avenue worship and special events, with at least one joining the church and attending new member orientation, Brown said.

“The job is not over,” Brown said. “I want to see people do what they did in the Bible when they met Jesus. They followed Jesus. I want to see, just like the man who was blind, follow Jesus. The man who was crippled in the Gate called Beautiful, who was healed, and the Bible says he got up leaping, walking and praising God and entered into the temple.

“Our end goal is to keep praying and keep doing follow-up,” Brown said, “until we see more families transformed. We want to make sure they’re at some church growing in the Lord.”