The Middletown Church in Louisville, Ky., had come to believe that evangelism in their area did not work. Whenever the idea of holding an evangelistic series was suggested, it was quickly put to rest as something of another era. When the church board was again approached with the idea of holding an evangelistic series, all agreed that something would have to be different if they were to proceed. The outreach committee read studies of evangelism in today’s world, and discovered that successful meetings are the result of months of preparing the soil; developing relationships with friends, co-workers, and neighbors; and being present in the community.
A year of outreach events focusing on health related issues was planned. Members were encouraged to witness in their everyday lives, using the unique witnessing style described in David Hartman’s book, Winning Ways to Witness.
In January a seasoned canvassing team arrived to work the territory around the church, with the primary purpose of finding people interested in learning more about the Bible. After the canvassers left, a Bible worker stayed to develop the interests gained. A second canvassing team came in the summer, along with two more Bible workers.
Interests were invited to at least one bridging event each month. Events included Eight Weeks to Wellness, Financial Peace, Vegetarian Taste Fest followed up with vegetarian cooking classes, Dinner with a Doctor, a CPR class, Diabetes Undone, and Super Foods of the Bible.
From the beginning, all agreed that the evangelistic series held in the fall must be Jesus-centered, with every prophecy, every doctrine presented with Jesus at the core. Romone Gibbs, a theology graduate of Ouachita Hills College who had done Bible work at Middletown for two years, was invited to be the speaker.
On opening night more than 90 people filled the sanctuary. As many as 129 people attended at times. By the end of the series, nine adults and nine children took their stand and were baptized. Others are continuing to study, and many friendships were formed.
So, does evangelism still work? Middletown Church praises God that, yes, it does, through the power of the Holy Spirit and His leading in developing innovative ways to prepare the ground.
Kentucky-Tennessee | February 2019