St. Louis church uses archery to reach lost
ST. LOUIS – In God’s economy, archery can be used to advance the kingdom of God. Just ask the group of people who meet occasionally on Saturday afternoons on the field behind the South County Baptist Church. They are the Christian Archers of Missouri (CAMO).
The seeds of the ministry were planted the first time Dick Wood, a realtor and member at South County, spoke with John Childers, who is now the pastor.
“Pastor John and I made an immediate connection when I, as a realtor, was asked by our pastor search committee to contact him in an effort to supply him with housing information,” said Wood, a skilled archer. “During that first conversation, I shared with John my interest in using outdoor skills as an outreach ministry at South County Baptist.”
South County launched CAMO in February with approximately 12 people. As of their last meeting, which occurred in September, they had 60 people in attendance who had signed release forms which enable them to shoot. Thirty-six of those people do not attend South County. Approximately 20 of those people do not attend church anywhere on a regular basis.
Russ Collins, chairman of the deacons at South County, said that CAMO members are inviting classmates, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends. Some people are even showing an interest after learning about the archery group through Monday night visitation.
Each archery meeting has a time of instruction, a time of performance and a time of devotion, during which the Gospel is presented.
“We are also making friends with everyone who is there and inviting them to church,” Collins said. “I believe CAMO is giving lost people the chance to know people who are Christians and not ashamed to tell them about Jesus.”
“CAMO is providing an opportunity for families to experience archery—a lifetime sport that is achievable by all ages and genders,” Wood said. “Those in attendance are also hearing the Word of God and learning of our Savior’s love. It is also a fun, festive time and is structured in such a way that folks keep coming back and bringing friends with them.”
One church member got his neighbor to begin coming to church through the ministry after failing to get him to come any other way. CAMO hopes that other congregations will catch the vision and use archery as a form of outreach as well.
“One of our goals is to do what we can to start other CAMO groups with other congregations,” Wood said. “We feel that this pilot organization will be a good model for other groups to emulate. We plan to put together a CAMO information packet after we get involved with our winter sessions and make it available to assist other churches that may wish to start their own chapter of CAMO.”