Our culture has changed dramatically in the last generation. As a young preacher I heard stories that men of God would go door to door down a street in their city, and 10, 20 or maybe even 50 people would pray to receive Christ. Oh, how wonderful it would be to have experienced that kind of openness to the gospel. Even, 26 years ago when I started in the ministry, you could still do door to door evangelism. Myself, and others would knock on 100 doors a day meeting people and sharing the gospel when possible. Today people don’t want to be bothered by strangers (nor do I), they won’t even open the door or they live in gated communities. Today’s culture poses new challenges to spreading of the gospel. In order to penetrate today’s lostness riverwoods adopted an additional strategy “Creative Evangelism”.

I have adopted the mind-set, “Do whatever it takes to get the word of God to people”. The scriptures say (Matt 10:16) “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So, be shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.” At riverwoods church we are serious about getting the gospel to people. In fact we are using creative ways to get them to come to us. In the last two months we have seen over 70 public decisions regarding Christ. The great thing is that almost all of these people making decisions have no church context.

In July we sponsored a FREE Bass Tournament. We gave away $9,000 in prize money and the fishermen didn’t have to pay an entry fee. This year we had our largest attendance to date, 195 boats, which means almost 400 fishermen, plus families. We did require them to attend a pre-tournament meeting which was held on Friday night before the tournament on Saturday. During the pre-tournament meeting we fed the fishermen a simple meal, had a worship service where the gospel was presented, and held a tournament rules meeting. During the service 56 men publicly made a decision for Christ. The next day we held the tournament and it was a great time. Many of the fishermen say it is the best tournament they fish. We have even been contacted about other decisions since the tournament, isn’t it wonderful how the word continues to bear fruit. This year before the meeting we held, campone17, a youth camp about becoming fishers of men based on Jesus’ word in (Mark1:17) “…follow me & I will make you fishers of men.” A sister church, GCC of Olive Branch, MS brought their youth to the camp and then on Friday and Saturday helped us with the tournament.

In August, riverwoods Eddyville hosted a mud truck drag race event much like the free bass tournament, where the competitors get to race for free and received the largest prize money of the year. Just for your information the racers are a little tougher and rougher than the fishing crowd. During the worship service we had people mocking and jeering our worship team. I simply confronted this behavior and let them know that if they raced, they had to sit down, be respectful and remain throughout the meeting. Men started taking their hats off, some worshiped, some didn’t, but they all paid close attention while I preached the gospel. Attendance was just a little over 100 and 14 people prayed to receive Christ. Some of our people were a little scared when I confronted the improper behavior, but I told them; ‘Sometimes you just have to get in the fire and snatch them out’.

Reaching people with the gospel takes a lot of work and costs a lot of money, but, the rewards are worth the effort. I love reaching people with the gospel even if it means I have to do “Creative Evangelism”.

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