Grey Stone Baptist Church in Durham recently partnered with the Strength Team in a unique approach to evangelism and disciple-making. During the week of Oct. 8-12, the Strength Team led 25 school assemblies in Orange and Durham counties, sharing positive messages ranging from anti-bullying to “The 6-P’s” – Prompt, Prepare, Polite, Positive-Attitude, Participate and Produce.
The Strength Team partners with local churches to provide a family-friendly, high-energy event. The team catches the attention of attendees by breaking concrete blocks, ripping phone books, bending iron bars and driving nails through boards with their bare hands. Testimonies and personal stories are then shared between feats of strength, along with a personal evangelistic message and an invitation to follow Jesus Christ.
A member of the Strength Team breaks bricks with his arms. The team spoke at school assemblies in Orange and Durham counties and invited them to Grey Stone Baptist Church in Durham. The church held a five-night crusade coinciding with the school visits.
Strength Team founder, Mike Hagan said, “We’re not here to brag about how strong we are or how tough we are. Big deal if you can break a brick! We’re here to share that God is the strength of our lives. God is only concerned with one muscle, and that is a person’s heart. God loves every person in this room!” Hagan has been organizing strength-oriented events for over 18 years.
Former NFL running back and first-round draft pick William Green lifted two teenagers hanging on each end of an iron bar before bending it into the shape of an ichthus (the Christian fish symbol). Then he took eight minutes to share his story and moments of fame when he helped the Cleveland Browns go to the national playoffs. But having thousands of fans and millions of dollars, he said, didn’t take any pain away in his life.
The life transforming power of Jesus Christ is what made the difference, he said.
Over the course of three weekdays, the team spoke to over 10,000 students and invited them to the free event at Grey Stone each night. For Strength Team member Herb Hartso, this is an unparalleled opportunity to reach teenagers through his ministry.
Hartso is the student pastor at Grey Stone and also a former All-American University of Washington athlete.
Wearing his Strength Team jersey, Hartso was able to build solid relationships with administrators, teachers and students after enlisting assemblies with school principles through a secular website, www.topschoolassembly.com.
“The mission field is the campus,” Hartso said. “Students see me at lunch and say, ‘Hey! There’s that Strength Team guy!’ Then I get to have conversation and share a meal with them in their cafeteria. I want to reach them all for Christ through the ministry at Grey Stone.”
Over 85 personal decisions and rededications were made at the nightly events.
Grey Stone is following up with all the decisions, holding a reception and inviting them to follow-through with baptism at future scheduled services. Thirteen adults, teenagers and children were baptized the Sunday following the event. Most of the attendees were results of seeing the team at the school assemblies.
“This really was an evangelistic revival,” said Randall Floyd, Grey Stone education pastor. “The Strength Team was a triple-threat! The schools got a much-needed positive message from professional athletes, our church family was blessed with volunteers in preparation and execution of the event, and a lot of people in our community got to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ multiple times! It was win-win-win all around.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Randall Floyd is the education pastor at Grey Stone Baptist Church in Durham. For more info about the Strength Team, visit www.strengthteam.com.)