Each of the 4,200 homes in neighborhoods surrounding Waynedale Baptist Church in Fort Wayne, Ind. is visited by a member of the congregation at least twice a year, an outreach dear to pastor Wayne Gullion.
This spring, the church is distributing a total of 4,000 copies of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s (BGEA) Heaven DVD door-to-door on alternating Saturdays through May 9. He likens the outreach to the scriptural harvest of sheaves referenced in Psalm 126:6 (KJV).
“[God] said if we would go and sow the seed, and weep a little bit over the seed, that we would doubtless come again rejoicing, bringing our sheaves with us. And we believe when we go out, that will happen,” Gullion said. “God will honor our efforts and we just are trying to be obedient because we love Him and we really do love our community.”
Door-to-door outreach is an effective evangelistic tool even as the U.S. culture changes, Gullion believes.
“I know that we’re living in a time when many of our religious leaders tell us that door-to-door doesn’t work, but Jesus said it does work. And I tell you, I have found that when He tells us something, then you can count on it,” the pastor said. “And it has been effective for the past four years, and we just believe it will be effective this year. And we’re just trying to do our part.”
The Heaven DVD, which includes a never-before-released message from the 96-year-old evangelist, is the latest film in the BGEA My Hope America with Billy Graham series of evangelistic media. The DVD giveaway adds to the 275,000-plus copies already distributed across the U.S., according to BGEA.
Gullion describes the DVD as heaven-sent.
“We knew we wanted to go back and knock on the door and ask every home if they had a personal relationship with Christ. When we saw this Billy Graham DVD on heaven, I knew that God wanted us to place one of those in each home,” Gullion said. “It is a powerful tool to be used for our Lord, and … I believe it was birthed in heaven. I just think God wants to use it in a great way and this is the way we believe He wants to use it right here in Waynedale/Fort Wayne.”
Guillion began the church’s door-to-door outreach four years ago as part of the North American Mission Board’s God’s Plan for Sharing (GPS) evangelism initiative, nurturing relationships with community members.
“I think God birthed GPS in heaven and gave it to us right here. And it has made such a radical difference in the life of our church,” Gullion said. “We have been to each home in our community – about 4,200 homes – for the past four years now. And so when we knock on the door and tell them who we are and where we’re from, they know our church. So we hope we will get a good opportunity to share our faith.”
Gullion expects more than 100 Waynedale Baptist Church members to participate in the outreach each weekend, about half of the average Sunday attendance of 225. He has led the church 11 years.
“All total, we hope to give out 4,000 DVDs. We want to knock on every door and if one of the family members comes to the door, we would like to have an opportunity to ask them if they have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ,” Gullion, 63, said. “If they say no, we would like, then, to ask them if they would like for us to share with them how they could know Him as Savior and Lord, and hopefully they will allow us.”
Gullion said the community appreciates the individual contact.
“Our community has determined they like some public or some personal attention, and we have knocked on their doors and told them we’re here because we care and we love you. And they have appreciated it,” Gullion said. “We get a lot of calls from people in our community where a tragedy takes place, an illness, and they’re willing to call us and ask if we would pray for them.”
Over the past four years, only a dozen community members have requested to be left alone, Gullion said. About seven Southern Baptist churches serve Fort Wayne’s 260,000 population. While many pastors no longer conduct door-to-door outreach, Gullion said others in the Northeastern Indiana Baptist Association are adopting the personal contact approach.
“Most generally they say, ‘You did what?’ But I can tell you this spring, we have about five or six churches in our association that have gone door to door,” Gullion said. “It’s catching on. And I will tell you this: Our association of churches here in northeast Indiana is a happening association. It is growing. Dead churches are coming to life; new churches are being birthed. And God’s doing some miraculous things in our area. He’s changing things. We’re not dying; we’re going and we’re growing.”
Baptisms at Waynedale Baptist Church have averaged about 30 or 40 a year the past four years, Gullion said.
“Every year that we have done it, we have added people by baptism to our church. I’m guessing over [the] past four or five years, we have averaged somewhere between 30 and 40 baptisms a year, which isn’t enough. I believe because of the willingness of the people to be involved in it and to go out, God’s already honoring their commitment and we’re seeing souls saved.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)