A large Abbotsford church has teamed with an established parachurch organization to evangelize in the church’s neighbourhood. The partnership project between Bakerview MB Church and the Gideons is believed to be the first of its kind in Canada (although a pilot project was run in Victoria in 2006).
Bakerview is always looking for new ways to reach “the parish,” a loosely-defined neighborhood of about 175 households in the immediate area of the church campus. Bakerview people do prayer walks, put on special events, sing Christmas carols, and offer friendship to the neighbours.
Abbotsford West Gideon Camp president, Martin Epp, and Peter Laurie, associate pastor for outreach ministries at Bakerview, share the desire to get the Word of God into the hands of the neighbouring people. Known for distributing Bibles in hotels and giving away New Testaments in schools, the Gideons recently developed a Testament Insert Project (TIP), geared as a partnership approach to reach households in church communities.
Laurie and Epp developed an orientation and delivery strategy for Bakerview’s neighborhood. Bakerview purchased 175 testaments at $3 each and recruited 10 members to call on homes along with 10 Gideon volunteer partners. The church invited residents and project participants to a pancake breakfast at the church on June 6, then the teams fanned out to knock on “parish” doors. Following their visits, the teams met together to debrief and to pray for the work they had just done.
The teams found no one home in almost half of the 175 houses, 29 people refused, and 56 Testaments were received into parish homes. Follow-up plans and revisits to unanswered doors are forthcoming.
Bakerview team member Gary Naylor and Gideon Martin Epp agree that TIP has great potential to bring about effective witnessing. They speak of the model such a partnership can be as a “wonderful walk together.”