JEFFERSON CITY – Standing room only described the attendance at the L.I.F.E. Outreach Events during the fall of 2022.
L.I.F.E. Outreach is the holistic approach in disciple-making for churches and associations as a part of the Missouri Baptist Convention’s (MBC) Making Disciples group’s strategy. The acronym, L.I.F.E., stands for: Leading people to follow Christ, Identify with Christ, Faithful obedience to Christ and Equipped in leading others.
The event attracting the crowds is the partnership with Real Encounter Evangelistic Outreach, a ministry made up of professional athletes and ministers in moto stunting, street bike stunting and BMX bikes.
“Our outreach uses action sports and extreme sports to connect with people of all ages,” Brad Bennett, director of Making Disciples, said. Bennett founded Real Encounter before coming to his MBC position.
“I’m a traveling evangelist,” he continued. “We use this as a tool to reach people for Jesus. But we want them to become disciples and that is where the local church comes in.”
The event begins on Sunday when the MBC missionaries led by Bennett come in to train the ‘Encouragers’ on disciple-making. Monday through Wednesday, school assemblies are conducted in the local schools to invite students and their families to come to the Wednesday evening event held in the area’s largest high school.
“These character-based assemblies are key,” he said. “We show how one student can have a positive impact in the lives of others. We discuss discipline, positive attitudes, making the right choices, and encouraging one another.
“We do the stunts to whet their appetites, then invite them back for the big event Wednesday evening.
“We encourage someone who has a good relationship with the schools to lead that team,” Bennett explained. “I go with them to meet with the school principals and superintendents to cast vision and explain why we are doing this. I assure them that during the assembly, we will stress character building but I don’t hide that we want to invite the school to the event. I also provide them with references of other schools.”
The response to these events is tremendous. The event in Union attracted 1000 in attendance with 96 salvations; Houston had 1500 in attendance with 115 salvations and Richland had 1000 in attendance with 75 decisions and 50 of those were salvations.
“Follow-up is critical,” Bennett said. “Building relationships will be the key to long-term disciple making.”
Bennett shared a wonderful follow-up story. “In Union, one of the team members went to visit one of the students who had made a decision for Christ at the event. While he was there, the father accepted Christ.”
Relational evangelism is a part of Bennett’s testimony. “I accepted Jesus when I was 19,” he said. “Another motocross rider shared Jesus with me.
“That is another reason I believe these events are so successful,” Bennett explained. “We are going out to the communities and locking arms with them as we implement these action steps. We go to them in their communities and in their context.
“We partner to cultivate a gospel-centered culture and community in the local area,” Bennett said. “We partner to develop a positive assimilation process in the churches to be certain that someone coming to the church can be plugged into the life of the church and can also spiritually grow.”
The pre-event planning guide provides instructions for selecting committees, as well as action steps for each committee. Also, included is a timeline beginning four to six months out for implementing each of the steps.
L.I.F.E. Outreach Events are planned for 2023 in several Missouri towns: Ewing (March 19-22); Sikeston (April 16-19); Desoto (May 7-10); Lake of the Ozarks (September 10-16); and Owensville (October 1-4).