COLLEYVILLE?A reported 340 salvation decisions were made during the annual Mission Colleyville Christmas outreach, and the number continues to climb as follow-up strategies are carried out by First Baptist Church in Colleyville, a suburb halfway between Dallas and Fort Worth.
“It was a wonderful thing ? to see the entire front of the church full of people making decisions,” Ron Cogburn said.
Cogburn, a member of FBC Colleyville, was a member of the original team that birthed the ministry of Mission Colleyville six years ago. The ministry involves an evangelism event followed by service to needy families in practical ways.
This year, anticipating the Lord would move mightily, FBC Colleyville asked Roland Johnson to help start an Hispanic church plant with the fruit of the outreach efforts, which have attracted large numbers of Hispanic families.
Pastor Craig Etheredge said the purpose of Mission Colleyville is to share the gospel and show the love of Christ to the people who might not otherwise be able to purchase items for Christmas or Thanksgiving.
“We had hundreds of volunteers who worked hard. It was neat to see all [their work] go towards building a new church,” Etheredge said. “It’s a real blessing to have 70 percent of the decisions from among the unchurched. Through the follow-up we hoped to help birth a new church,” Etheredge said.
Planning begins months in advance as church members pray, commit resources and give themselves for the event. Volunteers participated in “blitz days” where fliers were distributed in apartment complexes.
“Even right up to the moment where people were walking into the services, church members were covering it in prayer,” Etheredge said.
On Nov. 17, the Saturday before Thanksgiving, a carnival and three consecutive worship services were held at the church. Hispanic evangelist Homer Martinez preached in English and Spanish to an estimated crowd of 3,500. During the evening services 18 people were baptized.
Service attendees registered to receive vouchers for the toy store, which was open to the community Nov. 29- Dec. 1 as church members distributed free turkeys to the 1,630 families who registered to receive them.
Cogburn said 500 new families participated in the toy store this year. As families shopped in the toy store, opportunities to share the gospel and encourage attendance at the new church plant were plentiful.
“It was a time to share not just the physical bread, but more important, the bread of Christ, the spiritual bread,” Johnson said.
The church distributed more than 11,000 toys to 1,600 families at the toy store. Families were assigned a volunteer “personal shopper” who would help assist them as they chose the age-appropriate toys for their children.
Before leaving the store, families were led to a gift-wrapping table, where as their gifts were wrapped, the gospel was presented. As a result of the one-on-one evangelism, 20 people made salvation decisions at the toy store.
“The number of decisions climbs every year. This is a sustainable ministry that reaches our community,” Cogburn said. “We’re able to reach across all social and ethnic lines and be the hands and feet of Jesus.”
For example, 100 people have signed up for the free GED classes through the church.
A crucial part of the Mission Colleyville strategy is the follow-up with those who made decisions and those who received help. Within 48 hours, people who made decisions were contacted by church members. Within a week, volunteers have visited the homes of everyone who made decisions, inviting them to church, and encouraging them to make plans for baptism.
When Roland Johnson visited the home of a young girl who had made a decision at Mission Colleyville, he shared the gospel with her mother, who made a profession of faith.
“We are constantly telling people about the new church plant,” Johnson said.
Some 180 people who made decisions during the church services indicated they were without a church home, accelerating the progress of the new Hispanic church plant through FBC Colleyville.
The Hispanic church plant has held two services, with 35 people attending each service. For Johnson, seeing several new families and new converts attend the church plant services is exciting.
Currently, the church plant is forming a core group. They are meeting in a home with space for 40 to meet comfortably. But the group is already seeing growth, and plans are being made to move to a larger space.
“We look forward to the great things ahead,” Johnson said. “We’re beginning to see consistency. It’s an exciting feeling, and we will continue to follow up,” he said.
The church plans to continue hosting Mission Colleyville next year, and is currently evaluating the strategy to see if there are additional ways for more people to be reached.
“There are so many opportunities [for evangelism] right in our neighborhood,” Cogburn said.
Etheredge, the pastor, added, “Mission Colleyville is a catalyst to reach people for Christ and start new churches. We will continue to move forward with it and continue to build on it for next year.”