JEFFERSON CITY – For many years, Brad Bennett has used motorcycle and bike stunts to open doors for gospel witness, first through the Real Encounter evangelistic ministry and now in his role as Making Disciples director for the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC).
Bennett and other members of the MBC’s Making Disciples team now take ministry to Missouri Baptist churches through the LIFE Outreach Initiative, like the recent outreach in Sikeston that drew 1,700 people and resulted in more than 100 professions of faith (See story here). More recently, the MBC’s Making Disciples team worked with First Baptist Church, DeSoto, and Raintree Church, Hillsboro, to bring a LIFE Outreach to DeSoto. More than 1,500 people attended this outreach, and 93 people made public decisions for Christ.
I recently asked Bennett some questions about the LIFE Outreach Initiative. See our conversation below:
BENJAMIN HAWKINS: What’s the vision and goal behind the LIFE Initiative? What are the benefits of this initiative for the ministry of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) and MBC churches?
BRAD BENNETT: “The commission of Christ is clearly laid out for us in Matthew 28:18-20 for evangelism and discipleship. I have been a full-time traveling evangelist for over twenty-two years and in that time, I have done hundreds of outreach events with churches of all sizes. I have come to realize that many churches fall short in relational evangelism, assimilation and discipleship…fulfilling the Great Commission. There are different reasons for this, but in many cases our methods, structures and approaches need to be evaluated, strengthened and possibly changed.
“The LIFE Initiative is a holistic approach to disciple-making for churches and associations. The aim is to cultivate a gospel-centered culture of disciple-making focused on the four key distinctives of the Great Commission: evangelism, assimilation, discipleship and ministry.”
HAWKINS: How does the LIFE Initiative equip Missouri Baptists to share their faith in their communities?
BENNETT: “The Making Disciples group strategists’ overarching objective is to assist Missouri Baptists in developing biblical structures, strategies and processes for disciple-making ministries from childhood to adulthood.
“One way we, the Making Disciples group, can assist MBC churches is through a LIFE Outreach event. A LIFE Outreach is an evangelistic event designed not only to reach the community, but to equip the church in evangelism and discipleship. The preparation and equipping on the front end allow for better follow-up and a long-lasting impact far beyond the event.
“The LIFE Outreach model is designed around a Sunday through Wednesday. On Sunday the community of churches are equipped in the biblical foundation and framework of disciple-making. Monday through Wednesday character-based school assemblies are held. The assemblies meet the needs of local schools and are an opportunity to invite students and their families to a community-wide evangelistic event that culminates that Wednesday night. The Encouragers who are equipped will debrief with those that respond to the gospel message.”
HAWKINS: How does the LIFE Initiative equip churches to help new believers become spiritually mature disciples who make disciples?
BENNETT: “At the conclusion of the LIFE Outreach event, those who are trained will be tasked with following up on the new followers of Christ as they begin the process of integrating them into the life and culture of the church.”
HAWKINS: Does this initiative help churches build better connections with their communities? In what ways?
BENNETT: “The LIFE Initiative not only helps evaluate structures, pathways and pipelines for disciple-making, but seeks to cultivate a gospel-centered culture within our MBC churches. Holding a LIFE Outreach facilitates the opportunity for churches to connect with the public schools, their community and its leaders. The equipping along with the evangelistic event allow the opportunity for unchurched people to hear the life-changing message of Jesus Christ and for all those that come to Christ to be discipled.”
HAWKINS: Why do you use motorcycles and stunt bikes during the LIFE Initiative’s evangelistic events?
BENNETT: “You have heard the adage, ‘our methods change, but the message of Christ never does.’ When it comes to evangelism, the methods should help the church connect with the people they are trying to reach. The action sport stunt show is just one method, one way to connect with the community. We take a large-scale event and bring it to places that never get to see this type of event. Whatever venue the Lord gives us, it is usually standing room only. The stunt show is just a platform to share the gospel, and it is very effective, to say the least.
“Every follower of Christ has a platform, and we need to use the talents and gifts that the Lord has given us to connect with those who do not yet know Christ. This could be family members, neighbors, co-workers, school mates, people we meet at the grocery store, through hobbies, etc.”
HAWKINS: For many years, you’ve served Christ as an evangelist, and LIFE events are evangelistic events. But some people today say the biblical office of the evangelist is outdated and that mass evangelism events are ineffective. How would you respond?
BENNETT: “There is still a place for mass evangelism, but there needs to be solid preparation, a strong emphasis in equipping and an intentional process for follow-up. A LIFE Outreach definitely accomplishes the goals of solid, biblical, large-scale evangelism.”