MBC to take the Gospel to State Fair
By Allen Palmeri
February 22, 2005
JEFFERSON CITY – Directors of missions from around the state have a vision to treat the Missouri State Fair Aug. 11-21 in Sedalia like a summer missions trip, and Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Evangelism Director Bob Caldwell wants to do everything he can to support them.
“My heart’s desire would be that our associations around the state would view it as an opportunity to go on a one-day mission trip for a fraction of the cost of what most mission trips would cost,” Caldwell said.
The idea is for Missouri Baptists to drive in from all corners of the state to spend at least half a day under the tent with their fellow Missouri missionaries. Activities and entertainment in and around the tent are designed to draw people in to where the missionaries can proclaim the risen Lord Jesus Christ to them. People from about a dozen states historically have come to the Missouri State Fair.
“We’re hoping that Missouri Baptist churches and associations can help us with doing evangelism in the form of a mission trip, bringing music groups, clowns, persons who can make animal balloons, and persons who can help with evangelism presentations,” said Al Groner, director of missions, Bethel Baptist Association.
For a small association like Eleven Point River in Alton, the state fair short-term mission trip may represent the best opportunity available to a small church wanting to move out of its comfort zone.
“This gives every person in Missouri Baptist life a chance to be involved in a mission trip no matter what their financial situation is,” said Patrick Ryan, director of missions, Eleven Point River Baptist Association. “Most of the churches in our association are 60 people or below, so the state fair provides us an opportunity to get started in missions.”
Gary Payne, director of missions, Linn-Livingston Baptist Association, sent a letter in mid-February to all of his fellow directors of missions urging them to treat the state fair like a short-term mission trip in 2005.
“We must get out of our churches and get out where the people are, and I think this is an ideal opportunity,” Payne said. “I think it’s just a golden opportunity to sow seeds of evangelism.”
Marlin Brown, director of missions, Harmony Baptist Association, said that Missouri Baptists have been doing outreach at the state fair for about 25 years under the current format.
The cost of this short-term mission trip to Sedalia is minimal. Travel costs, meals and the admission price to the fair would be it for a day trip. A day’s lodging could be figured in for those traveling a long distance.
“It’s an inexpensive mission trip,” Groner said.