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Bibb Association church saddles up to share gospelcomment (0)

December 8, 2005

By Bethany Dye

According to 1 Corinthians 9, Paul became all things to all people for the gospel’s sake, so that by all means, some might be saved. 
For Alabama Baptists in Bibb County, becoming all things to all people involves horses, bluegrass music and barbecue.
Old Union Baptist Church, Randolph, partnered with Bibb Baptist Association Nov. 5 to organize an Intentional Evangelism event in east Bibb County.
Church members saddled up and invited unchurched and churched friends to participate in a six-mile trail ride on horseback, followed by a barbecue lunch and a performance by a bluegrass gospel group. Fliers announcing the event were distributed in the area and on the Internet.
Sammy Gilbreath, director of the office of evangelism for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, taught a clinic on horsemanship, giving instruction and pointers on topics such as barrel racing. 
The idea for the trail ride event stemmed from the popular hobby of horseback riding among Old Union Baptist’s members, according to Steve Patrick, director of missions for Bibb Association. Planning events around people’s interests serves as a creative way to meet people where they are, he said.  
“The trail ride was done in an effort to demonstrate to churches in our association things they can do to use people’s passions for evangelistic purposes,” Patrick said. “It is meant to serve as a model of how to carry out Intentional Evangelism.”
Intentional Evangelism, the state’s outreach push for 2005–2007, encourages Baptists to use their normal activities and ministries as a vehicle through which to share their faith right where they are.
About 35 riders turned out for the trail ride, opening the door for them to hear the gospel and offering the opportunity to get involved in church. Gilbreath gave an evangelistic message and an invitation — and several responded.
Patrick said he hopes this event will be the first of many Intentional Evangelism events in Bibb Association, sparking ideas and encouraging other churches to use unique ways to share their faith with nonbelievers and the unchurched.
Gilbreath added that Intentional Evangelism events such as the trail ride have proven very effective in reaching the community. “At these events, we see large crowds and decisions made,” he said. “We’ve discovered many prospects and that’s one of the joys of Intentional Evangelism. This gives churches wonderful opportunities to follow-up with these prospects and invite them to Sunday School and other church events because they’ve already met them, and they’ve already broken the ice and they’ve developed some common ground.”

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