HOUSTON?An SBTC Engage Team conducted a revival at Houston’s Woodland Trails Baptist Church that culminated in a June 26 youth rally featuring an unlikely outreach tool: rap music.
An Engage Team is a group of college students who spend the summer traveling the state leading revivals in SBTC churches under direction from the convention’s evangelism department. The teams receive extensive training in evangelism and revival leadership from SBTC ministry staff, interim Youth Evangelism Associate Matt Hubbard said.
At Woodland Trails, the team led children’s sports camps and youth evangelism training and held nightly services in the week before the rally, which drew around 50 people, team member Stephen Deason said.
“It wasn’t the biggest crowd in the world, but the people who needed to be there were there,” Deason added.
Rap may prove to be a valuable tool for evangelism for Woodland Trails.
“There are a lot of kids in the hip-hop culture, and this is a great way to reach them,” Engage Team leader Garrett Wagoner said. “The hip-hop beat is the same, but the words are saturated in Scripture. They [the rappers] challenge the kids to live the way the Christ lived.”
Woodland Trails almost closed in the face of drastic demographic changes in the surrounding neighborhood.
“The area has changed quite a bit ethnically,” Pastor Tim Howard said. “A lot of Hispanic folks have moved into the area. I don’t have the stats to back it up, but I’ve seen a shift back.”
Instead of closing, the church opted to present the gospel in a way that would serve an important segment of the neighborhood’s population?youth.
“We’ve really got to not change the message but share the message in a way these kids can relate to,” Howard noted.
To that end, Wagoner contacted Stand Out Ministries, a quartet of Christian rappers from Denton.
The multigenerational appeal of the music surprised some listeners.
“You wouldn’t think that a lot of churches would be open to that [rap music]. To see the older people being open to that and getting into it and raising their hands was amazing,” Deason said. “These people will do whatever it takes to share the gospel.”
This passion for evangelism, even after the team left town, is exciting for Wagoner.
“Some of these churches we go to are discouraged and have had hard times. It’s great to see God renew a passion in the people for evangelism,” Wagoner said.
Howard, who is quick to commend his members for their faithfulness through hard times in the past, is hopeful for the future.
“God is clearly at work. God is tearing down barriers. Socially, culturally, God is paving the way. There is no question in my mind that God is at work in this church.”
Pastors are encouraged to contact Jennifer Dean at email@example.com or 877-953-7282 to schedule an Engage Team revival for the summer of 2009.