MT. CARMEL, Ill. | Members of First Baptist Church of Mt. Carmel, Ill. are no strangers to evangelistic outreach. In previous years they’ve hosted a gas buy-down event and gone door-to-door distributing spaghetti in an effort to share Christ’s love with members of their community. Now, church members spent a recent Saturday morning canvassing their community with bags of microwave popcorn and sharing that same message once again.
A total of 226 people, nearly half of First Baptist’s Sunday morning worship attendance, turned out to distribute bags of microwave popcorn with a card that read, “Pop in and see us sometime.” The packet also contained information about upcoming church events. In less than three hours, church members had travelled pre-mapped routes and visited all of the community’s 3,000 households.
“We knocked on doors, gave out pop corn and said, ‘This is a free gift from First Baptist Church to demonstrate God’s love for you,’” said Scott Farmer, pastor of First Baptist Church.
During the distribution church members had the opportunity to pray with residents and share Christ. “People just opened up to us and shared their struggles,” Farmer said.
“Several people who did not attend a church said they will come to our church,” he noted. “We also were able to link several children with our bus ministry.”
The event was organized by the church’s outreach committee and took about two months to plan and implement.
“People who couldn’t go door-to-door helped assemble packets so everyone could participate,” said Farmer.
The next day, during the evening worship service’s testimony time, a teen shared about getting a hug from a lady who was touched by the church’s gift. Children testified how much fun they had going door-to-door and about the memories it created for them. One young man shared that a resident requested prayer for his neighbor.
The event fit in with the church’s vision statement – Believing, Belonging and Becoming.
“We want to reach out and see people believe in Christ, challenge them to grow in their faith and to do service projects. In doing that we become better Christians,” shared Farmer.
As part of the outreach project, community members were invited to a number of Fall events including “an old-time tent meeting”, the church’s annual block party, and Friend Day.
The church’s Sunday morning worship attendance has grown from just over 200 to nearly 600 in Farmer’s six years as the church’s bivocational pastor. Farmer believes his being a bivocational pastor has given “the congregation an opportunity to come alongside their pastor and get involved.”
“People are taking ownership of ministry and outreach,” he noted. “The church is not one person, but the whole congregation coming together with a common purpose of sharing Christ’s love.”
Farmer recently resigned as bivocational pastor of First Baptist Church and plans to pursue bivocational evangelism ministry.