Hispanic churches go outside the box for evangelism

ALBUQUERQUE (BP) -- Twenty-four Hispanic Baptist churches embraced the 2018 Simultaneous Revivals campaign organized by Baptist Convention of New Mexico Hispanic ministry strategist Ricardo Rivera.

Iglesia Bautista Nueva Alturas in Albuquerque utilized Central Baptist Association's Block Party Trailer for an outdoor event Easter Sunday in an effort to reach the neighborhood for Christ. The church was among the participants this year in the state convention's Simultaneous Revival campaign.
Photo by Ricardo Rivera
A key goal this year, Rivera told the Baptist New Mexican newsjournal, was to motivate churches to think outside the box about evangelism within their communities and to inspire them to do something beyond traditional preaching revivals.

Each Hispanic church that committed to some kind of evangelistic project received $500 from Cooperative Program funds through the Baptist Convention of New Mexico. Churches that chose to participate agreed to share the Gospel at their events and activities and to report their results to the BCNM, specifically the number of lost people who attended, how the Gospel was presented, follow-up plans and the number of spiritual decisions that were made. In exchange, each participating church would receive the small monetary grant to offset the costs of the event.

Both larger and smaller congregations were among the 24 that participated.

The campaign, in utilizing Cooperative Program funds, is directed toward accomplishing the convention's Advancing the Kingdom objectives related to reaching Hispanics -– including sharing the Gospel with 1 million unreached Hispanics through disciple-based evangelism strategies.

Reports on the initiative, at the time of this writing, included: 26 churches requested funds for an evangelistic project; two churches withdrew from the campaign; 17 churches have reported to Rivera about their simultaneous revival results; 308 unsaved people attended the events; 59 made professions of faith; and three people have been baptized. These numbers will change as churches continue to report. At this point, seven churches have not yet reported or have not yet had their event.

In Clovis, Pedro Escobar, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Belen and the BCNM's former Hispanic church planting catalyst, reported on a simultaneous revival held at Iglesia Bautista Maranatha on Friday and Saturday, March 30-31, which drew approximately 40 people each evening. Joining Iglesia Bautista Maranatha for services on Easter Sunday morning and an event that afternoon was Escobar's congregation from Iglesia Bautista Belen. That evening, the two churches planned an outdoor neighborhood activity with music, food, games and prizes, which drew 80-100 people, many from the surrounding neighborhood.

A new church plant in the South Valley of Albuquerque, Iglesia Bautista Nueva Alturas, led by pastor Alfredo Gomez, had been preparing for a grand opening of their new location for Easter Sunday. Every Saturday, four weeks prior to Easter, approximately 45-60 people knocked on doors in the neighborhood, inviting residents to the Easter services. During those four weeks, the group distributed 2,500 door hangers advertising the grand opening service on April 1. In addition to inviting anyone they saw in the neighborhood, the volunteers shared the plan of salvation when appropriate, seeing 11 people turn to Christ.

On Easter Sunday morning, the Spanish-speaking service saw 230 in attendance with 14 first-time guests and two people accepting Christ. The English-speaking service had approximately 20 in attendance, with seven first-time visitors and one person accepting Christ. The church also baptized one young man that morning at the new location.

Following the morning worship services, the church utilized Central Baptist Association's block party trailer to provide afternoon activities and food for attendees. Gomez said several from the neighborhood, who stopped by to have a hotdog, had not attended the services.

The congregation is busy following up on the new believers and first-time guests, with several of the guests returning to services since Easter.

Gomez told the Baptist New Mexican that the congregation is hard at work forming an outreach program to follow up on visitors every week and working with the 14 who accepted Christ. "Having a place to minister in a new area is very exciting to our church," Gomez said.

Jorge Monroy Sosa, pastor of Praise Chapel in Albuquerque, reported that the theme of their event was "Come Alive: A Journey Through Holy Week." The church's emphasis began with a two-day campaign to knock on doors and distribute 2,500 door hangers to invite the community to the evangelistic event. The "Journey Through Holy Week" started on Palm Sunday and continued on Good Friday, Saturday and Easter Sunday. Following the service Easter Sunday morning, the church used the block party trailer from Central Baptist Association for a community event, attended by approximately 150 people, with an estimate of 20-25 from the surrounding neighborhood.

Praise Chapel had formed a team for guest services, who intentionally sought out the visitors in the crowd and requested contact information so they could follow up and continue to encourage them to attend services and meet any needs they may have.

To continue their evangelistic event, the church planned a special celebration two weeks later for the church's 4th anniversary. Sunday mornings average about 30 people, but the anniversary celebration saw approximately 75-80 people in attendance.

"Little by little the community is starting to know that we're here," Sosa said. "God is doing something awesome."

Among the various ideas churches set forth for reaching their communities: praying for five lost people every day prior to the event; sharing tracts and New Testaments with people they invited; conducting an advance prayer chain and distributing invitations throughout the neighborhood; Christian movie night; a Christian concert; evangelistic meal and movie at the church; multiple-day evangelistic campaigns; creating a website through which to evangelize; hosting an evangelistic meal at a restaurant and inviting unbelievers; Easter egg hunt for neighborhood children; Festival of Hope in a local park with music, activities, health fair, food and gifts; men's evangelistic conference with workshops in which the plan of salvation was shared.

Joy Pitman writes for the Baptist New Mexican (gobnm.com), newsjournal of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico.
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