Ben Somers/contributing writer
Florissant – A new outreach ministry organized by the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) has sparked hope for spiritual awakening and a new vision at Park Baptist Church, Florissant.
Distributing more than 4,000 Bibles throughout their community, the congregation was among 40 other churches, associations and ministries that test-piloted “Light Up Missouri,” an MBC initiative designed to transform communities with God’s word through servanthood evangelism.
“One of the ways of serving is providing God’s Word to people,” MBC missional evangelism/discipleship strategist Mark Snowden said. He explained that “Light Up Missouri” combines “God’s Plan for Sharing” (GPS), a servanthood evangelism initiative created by the North American Mission Board (NAMB), with a campaign to distribute one million Bibles throughout Missouri.
According to Snowden, the churches, associations and ministries that test-piloted “Light Up Missouri” distributed 47,000 Bibles throughout the state.
“Light Up Missouri” offers life through God’s Word to those who have no hope, but Pastor Jeff Lunn and the members at Park Baptist, Florissant, discovered that it can also bring renewal to a church.
“We had gotten to the place where we had become ingrown,” Lunn said.
In March 2013, Lunn received a call from Snowden, who asked him to help test-pilot “Light up Missouri.” Lunn’s job was to distribute as many New Testament Bibles as possible door-to-door in his community by August.
Lunn took the opportunity to engage his church with a new mission to reach out into the community. At first, he told Snowden that his church would distribute 2,000 Bibles, but by the end of the program the church had distributed 4,224 Bibles.
Taking the lead, Lunn also ordered specially printed postcards advertising the church’s name and address and began stuffing one in every Bible. He mapped out, street by street, every house surrounding the church and began delivering the Bibles himself.
“I’ll never ask anyone to do anything I wouldn’t do,” Lunn said. “That’s just leadership.”
Slowly, he acquired recruits to work by his side, stuffing bibles, packing boxes, and delivering Bibles. However, after going through all their material, the church had seen little results.
“Nobody was coming in the door,” Lunn said. “They would drive past our church, but we had become invisible.”
Determined to reach their community, Lunn and volunteers from his church used the same outreach strategy for their summer Bible School program. They purchased 3000 postcards and delivered them to the same houses that received Bibles.
“It’s amazing,” Lunn said. “We started getting just a trickle of visitors, and we kept praying. … It is not unusual now for us to have 5-10 visitors a week, and an air of optimism and prayer has swept the church.”
Park Baptist now produces and delivers these cards every two months. The newest card points people to their website and to Pastor Lunn’s weekly recorded sermons. The next will be a special Christmas card.
Lunn teaches his congregation that drawing people to Park Baptist is only one of the church’s responsibility. They must also sow the gospel and produce disciples. But, as they continue to remind the community of their presence, they hope and pray that, when someone has a need, they will think of Park Baptist.