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Tennessee church’s evangelism effort is ‘just ducky’

David Evans, pastor of Springfield (Tenn.) Baptist Church, shares the platform with a toy Jeep and 500 rubber ducks at a recent Sunday service. The toys were part of a unique evangelism effort. Submitted photo

SPRINGFIELD, Tenn. (BP) – When it comes to finding unique ways to share the Gospel, David Evans is always on the lookout.

Evans, pastor of Springfield Baptist Church, recently learned that Springfield and Robertson County have a large population of people who own Jeeps. He also discovered that Jeep owners like rubber ducks.

“The Jeep community has a thing with rubber ducks,” Evans explained. “When those who have a Jeep see another Jeep in a parking lot, they probably have a rubber duck in their car because in that community, they’ll just walk up and they’ll put it on the hood or in the driver’s door handle and then leave,” he said.

The rubber duck has become a symbol of encouragement to Jeep owners, Evans continued. “When I hear of something unique like this, I naturally think, ‘How can we use this to share the Gospel?’”

Prior to becoming pastor at Springfield, Evans served as evangelism team leader for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board. 

“Throughout the years, Southern Baptists have done ourselves a disservice because when you look at our evangelism training techniques, most of them involve memorizing an outlook or knocking on a stranger’s door,” he said.

He acknowledged those efforts have “produced a lot of great fruit,” but many Southern Baptists are not comfortable with “public speaking to strangers.”

So, when ministers say the words “evangelism or outreach,” people get scared, Evans said. 

“They’re like, ‘I’m not going to do that.’ And to some degree, I don’t blame them. Big personalities like mine that never meet a stranger, can walk up to a stranger’s door, recite an outline and really talk and have a conversation,” he said, adding that he realizes most people are not comfortable with that approach.

“As a pastor, I have to think, ‘How can I help everybody share the Gospel?’ I have discovered two basic principles. They have to want to share the Gospel, and they need to be excited to tell others about Jesus.”

On a recent Sunday morning, Evans launched a unique way to reach people in the community, or at least those who drive Jeeps, with the Gospel.

The church bought 500 rubber ducks and had a URL code printed on them which would lead recipients to a page on the church’s website which informs them that “not only does the Jeep community love you, but Jesus also loves them,” Evans said. 

With the ducks surrounding him on the platform as he preached, Evans explained what he wanted the congregation to do. When it came time for the congregation to come to the front and get some ducks to pass out, there was a brief hesitancy. Evans realized “it was a sink or swim idea.”

All of a sudden, however, people started swarming to the front and every duck was taken that morning. “I didn’t have any extra,” he said. “I had people calling me asking, ‘Are you going to order some more?’”

Evans instructed the congregation to take the duck and put it on the hood or in the door handle. “I told them to walk away, don’t talk to anybody, don’t look at anybody and don’t stand there waiting for someone to come up. Just leave the duck and let it do the talking,” Evans said. It sounds stupid but it worked, he said, adding that the rubber duck served the purpose of a Gospel tract because it led the recipients to the website.

Evans also asked the church members to send him videos or photos of them leaving the ducks. He said the effort has gotten his members excited about doing evangelism. “They are calling me, asking me to order more ducks.”

The Springfield pastor has been pleased with the results. Those who have been “ducked” have gone to the website and left responses. One person wrote that he was having a terrible day, but his spirits were lifted when he saw the message from the church.

Just as important, however, his congregation is excited about evangelism. “That is the attitude I am trying to create here,” he said.

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  • Lonnie Wilkey/Baptist and Reflector