Bennett expands crusade outreach
Motorcycle jumper conducted 18 crusades in 2004
By Allen Palmeri
December 22, 2004
JEFFERSON CITY – The Real Encounter partnership with the Missouri Baptist Convention, which involves a motorcycle-jumping evangelist named Brad Bennett taking the Gospel to thousands of students, is increasing from five crusades to six in 2005.
This year, Bennett held meetings at Washington, Bolivar, Chillicothe, Hannibal and Lamar. The 2005 lineup includes Branson (Jan. 23-26), Monett (April 10-13), Farmington (March 21-23), Neosho (Sept. 19-21) and two locations yet to be determined.
Bennett, a member of Second Baptist Church, Springfield, held 18 crusades overall in 2004. He has partnerships with three other Southern Baptist state conventions in addition to Missouri—Arkansas, Georgia and Louisiana—and may be partnering with Southern Baptist state conventions in South Carolina, Oklahoma and Illinois in 2005. He runs his crusades through what he calls “a point church,” and 90 percent of those congregations are Southern Baptist, he said.
“A lot more doors have opened because I’ve given God more control,” Bennett said. “A lot of times He’s forced me to do that through different circumstances. You always grow in the preaching. The more you speak, the more comfortable you get and the better you get. As a Christian, my faith has grown in that I’m more dependent on God.
“It’s really been word of mouth. I have not, per se, marketed our ministry. I have not run ads and made cold calls or anything like that. God has just been spreading the word.”
Bennett said two of his Missouri crusades were among the more memorable meetings of the year.
At Washington, 3,000 people showed up and tried to get into a gym that could only hold 2,100. It was standing room only, with about 600 people leaving, Bennett said. First Baptist Church, Washington, was the point church.
At Lamar, in a facility that could hold 1,000, a crowd of 1,500 turned out. There were more than 240 decisions for Christ that evening, Bennett said, in a crusade where First Baptist Church, Lamar, was the point church.
“When you keep the main thing the main thing, which is reaching people with the Gospel, God just blows you away,” Bennett said. “God has definitely given me a spirit of discernment. I do a preliminary meeting at each crusade about six months in advance with youth pastors and pastors, and I can tell within the first five or ten minutes what kind of a crusade we’re going to have. I could tell Washington and Lamar were both going to be incredible.”
A total of 40 people showed up for the preliminary meeting in Monett, with increasing numbers in subsequent meetings.
“Monett may be the biggest (crusade) that we’ve ever had,” Bennett said. “They are so on fire for this.”
Bennett is encouraged by the level of cooperation he is seeing among the churches.
“It seemed like in years past, even though you had these different denominations all working together, it’s like the Baptist church did the most work,” he said. “In 2004, it’s been more equal responsibilities. We have planning teams now where a lot of the other churches have gotten involved. In that process, it’s amazing to me how similar we are in a lot of different respects.
“For example, I always had the impression that no Methodist church was very evangelistic, but I’ve seen a lot of Methodist churches involved with our crusades in 2004 and the youth pastors I was dealing with were very evangelistic.”
Bennett is a full-time evangelist who has done a total of 18 crusades for each of the last two years. He said his goal for 2005 is 24 crusades.
He rides a motorcycle as a means of attracting students who may not otherwise come to a Gospel meeting. The thrill is to watch him jump some 25 feet over the stage with his fellow riders, Tim Wilson and Wes Parr.
“The motorcycle exhibition is definitely the biggest draw of our ministry,” Bennett said. “We started this new element called X-Trials. It’s different than the big jumps, the freestyle motocross. It’s more flat-land tricks, and it’s real technical.”