Pastor advocates Sunday school evangelism strategy

June 3, 2004

BURLEY, Idaho--First Baptist Church in Burley, Idaho, has grown from about 100 to 400 members using a door-to-door evangelism program with a Sunday school connection, according to Baptist Press.

The FAITH Sunday School Evangelism Strategy has a link with church fellowship that makes it different than other visitation programs, for both Christians sharing their faith and new converts.

Instituting the FAITH program was a condition of employment pastor Dennis Stoneman made upon taking the senior minister position at the church in 2000. From the beginning the program has grown the church and introduced many in the community to Christ.

"That first semester, we made 92 visits," Stoneman told Baptist Press. "From those visits, 27 people came to know Christ. Everyone was so excited to see that. They saw that FAITH worked."

The second semester of FAITH drew enough people to have 15 teams.

"At that time, the church ran about 100 in worship and 70 in Sunday school," Stoneman said. "With 15 teams [45 people], almost all the adults in the church were involved."

That semester, the FAITH teams made 289 visits, resulting in 89 professions of faith in Christ.

Stoneman was a student at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, Calif., when he was introduced to the FAITH strategy.

"One of my professors told me that he didn't think knocking on doors was an effective way to do evangelism anymore," Stoneman said. "But, later on when I went through FAITH training in San Diego, the first night we went out knocking on doors and sharing Christ. We led nine people to Christ. That showed me that it does work and that people are still hungry for Christ."

Stoneman said he saw the same hunger in Burley, a community of about 9,000. "We saw all these people come to know Christ, and it energized our church," Stoneman said. "We were baptizing people. New Christians were coming into our Bible Fellowship [Sunday School] classes. People were being discipled. These new Christians didn't know any better than to say, ‘We got saved. We're going to Sunday School. Now we do that FAITH thing.'"

Stoneman said he is also appreciative for how the FAITH program has encouraged the congregation to evangelize. "We've got a church full of Great Commission Christians," he said. "Sharing their faith is part of their lifestyle."

"We're always anxious for FAITH to start in the fall," he said. Stoneman said that the program helps members stop worrying "about the inconsequential things. They get busy on what really matters."

Topics: Church Growth , Church Profiles , Denominations , Discipleship , Leadership , Outreach , Sunday School and Small Groups , Teaching Resources

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