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Sharon Heights Baptists challenged to ‘live out loud,’ reach out to communitycomment (0)

September 10, 2009

Members of Sharon Heights Baptist Church, Birmingham, did a little “soulfishing” in August.

By the end of the month, their Live Out Loud campaign had reeled in 49 people who committed their lives to Jesus Christ.

“We asked for 30 souls in 30 days but got much more,” said Jason Dunlap, pastor of the 600-member North Jefferson Baptist Association congregation.

Throughout August, Dunlap preached a sermon series on why Jesus called Christians to be fishers of men. Corresponding evangelistic efforts included prayer walking in a nearby housing complex for low-income individuals and volunteering at a local prison ministry, Boys & Girls Club and pregnancy center.

The final project was Aug. 29, when members of the congregation distributed nearly 100 Angel Food Ministries boxes filled with fresh vegetables and frozen meats to residents of the housing complex.

As they distributed the boxes, church members asked residents a series of questions, with the final one being had they accepted Christ as their personal Savior.

Other projects that day included helping a single mother move and cutting trees in the front yards of senior adults.

“My thoughts are a Greek word we use around here — wow,” Dunlap said. “It was a privilege to be used by almighty God to be a part of changing lives.”

The Live Out Loud effort originated in the spring when Dunlap realized his church was giving to and participating in missions on a state, national and international level but didn’t do anything locally.

The church then voted to devote 3 percent of its monthly tithes to local missions — in addition to its budgeted Cooperative Program and associational giving — as well as participate in area projects.

Dunlap said the effort has changed the mind-set of his congregation.

“Our people are fired up and excited, especially the new ones,” he said. “Our church has always done evangelism, but this has given us another angle to it. This servant evangelism has transformed our church.”

Steve Loggins echoed that thought.

“Sharon Heights has consistently emphasized the need to go, to witness and to win the lost to Christ,” said Loggins, director of missions for North Jefferson Association.

“Their Live Out Loud evangelism effort has seen great success in achieving the goal of leading their people to fulfill the call of God to the Great Commission.”

Joe Bob Mizzell, director of the office of Christian ethics and chaplaincy ministries for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, said every church should have a similar effort for soulwinning.

“When churches try to win people to Christ through special emphases such as Live Out Loud, Across Alabama or God’s Plan for Sharing, they are usually successful,” Mizzell said.

“When churches don’t try to win people, they usually don’t. Every church needs to win people to Jesus.”

Though Live Out Loud has ended, Dunlap hopes his congregation’s commitment to local missions won’t.

“I’m hoping this won’t be one of the things where they check the box on the Sunday School card and it’s over with,” he said. “I hope it’s a habitual thing.

“I hope it burns in their spirit and that they continue to see the need to do it more than once a year,” Dunlap added. “I realize we can’t do this on quite as big a scale, but we can continue in some way.”

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