O’FALLON – First Baptist O’Fallon (FBCO) in suburban St. Louis seeks to grow God’s church – not necessarily only the local congregation – through a renewed outreach program focusing on spreading Christ’s message.
Senior Pastor Richard Young explained the program: “We are providing an opportunity for church members to take the good news of Christ to the community in a variety of ways: personal visits, phone calls, cards and letters, and intercessory prayer.”
Since January, members have been asked to commit 1-1/2 hours a month to the Tuesday evening program. Volunteers are organized into four, weekly-rotating teams. Young said about 120 members participate each month.
That number, said FBCO Associate Pastor of Education Lee Sanders, represents about a quarter of the congregation’s involved adults. That’s “a lot of people who say they want to invest (in outreach).”
Lifeway’s G.R.O.W. outreach program is the basis of FBCO’s effort. The acronym stands for God Rewards Our Effort. The church uses the GROW program to train members before implementing outreach.
FBCO previously had regular, structured outreach programs focused on visiting Sunday morning guests. The renewed GROW effort, however, offers other outreach components and ministry groups.
“Front door” visits are still fundamental to the outreach effort but other options are available for those uncomfortable with visiting or who can’t. “This (program) stays within the comfort zone of our people,” Sanders said.
Two–person visiting teams get support from members praying for them and the people they’ll meet. Other teams make contacts with phone calls, letters, or postcards. A hospitality team bakes and packages cookies to be delivered during visits.
Sanders said visit responses are generally positive. “People tell us, ‘I didn’t know churches still did this.’”
He said he’s been told “in our culture and society people don’t want to be visited.” However, “we find that’s not true.”
Besides following up with Sunday morning guests, FBCO contacts families connected to First Baptist Christian Academy – the church’s preschool, after care, and K-6 school ministry.
The great majority of those families do not attend FBCO and some are not affiliated with any church. Visits have helped FBCO confirm whether families are connected to a church, demonstrated the FBCO’s interest in ministering to them and allowed the sharing of the Gospel to students’ families.
The next outreach phase involves contacting new residents. O’Fallon is in the middle of still fast growing St. Charles County. The city gets new residents from out of town as well as those moving within the county.
New resident information no older than 30 days is now available to FBCO, allowing it to contact those who recently moved into the city.
Sanders said visits will focus on welcoming new residents and introducing the church. However, he hopes contacts will also lead to introductions of Christ and ministry opportunities.
The GROW program, Young said, is having three effects.
“First, GROW makes an impact on the individual who participates. They are taking seriously the Great Commission and are making themselves available for God to use to further His Kingdom.
“Second, GROW makes an impact on the church. The body of Christ wins when it takes seriously God’s command to ‘Go.’ Third, GROW makes an impact on the community.”