FORT WORTH—The Easter season is often a popular time for churches to invite neighbors to their services, but for a Fort Worth church it is only an end marker of about eight months of outreach.
Although Normandale Baptist Church has been in their neighborhood for only five years after moving from the military barracks they met in beginning in 1948, they have made an impact and hope to connect with all residents in the community surrounding the church.
Pastor John Mark Yeats has helped carry out that goal and initiated an outreach plan that runs all year that would help accomplish it.
“We don’t think that outreach needs to ever stop or needs to be focused on just one event,” Yeats said.
The outreach program begins with invitations to Vacation Bible School each summer. The church keeps the contact information for the children that attend and then visit their families and invite them to their services as well as the next church event.
A similar procedure is followed for the fall festival, the Christmas Eve service and ultimately Easter. With each event, a follow-up occurs so a visitor is not forgotten.
“Our long-term goal is to reach as many homes as we can in a five-mile radius of our church,” Yeats said.
Yeats said every visitor—whether to a special event or normal church service—is usually contacted by three different church staff or members within the first 48 hours, encouraging them to come back.
Outreach also ranges from “snack sacks for hungry kids to fixing things around the house for those who no longer can … in White Settlement, Benbrook, Aledo and West Fort Worth,” according to the church website. There is also a monthly food giveaway at an area Wal-Mart and the “Normandale Futbol League,” a gospel-based soccer outreach to kids.
The church furthers their outreach more for the Easter service by getting the whole church involved and not just the staff.
Yeats described their event called the “Big Invite” as a chance for church members to personally invite the community to the Easter service.
The church sends out about 1,000 invitations by mail, and then on one evening church families are assigned streets where they go door-to-door inviting neighbors personally.
“We believe that we have a responsibility before the Lord for those homes to reach them with the good news,” Yeats said.
Because of that responsibility, Yeats said their church keeps a focus on missions with all their events and uses them as a chance to share the gospel.
“The one relationship that will transform their lives forever is that with God,” Yeats said.
Yeats said a strategic plan is key for a church hoping to begin an outreach program in its community.
“Churches who are wanting to impact their community have got to start thinking of their community as a mission field,” Yeats said. “And how can they enter into a relationship with these individuals within that community so they can make a difference in their lives.”
Yeats said that can start with one activity that they know brings in people from the community and then using their contact information to remain in touch with them and invite them to return.
“It has become part of the way we do life in the community,” Yeats described their program. “Because God has placed us strategically in a specific area and we want to be able to reach the people that God has given us to reach.”
Yeats encouraged other churches to do the same—finding an outreach program that works in their community that the entire church can commit to.