SAN DIEGO—Some pastors lament the lack of lasting fruit from their churches’ outreach events. Sean Beaudoin isn’t one of them.
At New Vision Church in San Diego, where Beaudoin pastors, outreach festivals are more than fleeting opportunities for family fun. Thanks to effective follow-up, they’re a surefire way to reach people for Christ and assimilate them into the congregation.
That was true of New Vision’s San Diego Community Fest on September 10. The event drew 2,500 people to a local park for music, carnival games, food, prize giveaways, a display of lowrider cars, and a Gospel presentation. It also registered 115 professions of faith in Christ.
But that’s not the end of the success. Within six weeks, 50-70 people will have visited the church thanks to personal connections they forged at the festival, Beaudoin said. About half of those visitors will assimilate into the church if the pattern from past outreaches holds.
“For me and my team, outreach is to reach out and to bring people back into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ and a church family that loves you,” Beaudoin said.
Since its launch in 2008, New Vision has expanded to two campuses with a combined weekly attendance of 350 at its English and Spanish services. The Community Fest has been an annual event since 2014. The church hosts a holiday toy drive each year too. In planning those events, New Vision sought a way for their outreaches to have lasting spiritual impact.
Beaudoin found the answer in personal connections. Like most churches, New Vision has guests fill out registration cards at its community outreaches, and it conducts routine follow-up. But there’s an added element to New Vision’s strategy. Beaudoin walks through the crowd with a stack of his business cards engaging families. If he manages to strike up a conversation, he offers to take the family to coffee or lunch. When a family shows interest, he schedules the follow-up appointment on the spot.
“With those people, there’s a 70-80 percent chance they’re going to visit the church at least once,” Beaudoin said. “You get to know them. They see that you actually care.”
Several other New Vision leaders also mingle with the crowd, scheduling follow-up appointments with guests. The result has been wave after wave of new believers and assimilation. “We always have people who we met the year before serving at the next event,” Beaudoin said.
Gilbert and Pamela are two of those people. After attending two New Vision outreaches with their two children, they went to lunch with Beaudoin. He learned they were not married and experiencing financial difficulties. The couple began premarital counseling, adjusted some harmful behavior patterns, and committed their lives to Christ. They also got married. They were baptized and have served at every New Vision outreach event since then.
At this year’s Community Fest, an evangelism grant from the California Southern Baptist Convention (CSBC) helped the church connect with prospects like Gilbert and Pamela. New Vision used its grant to purchase giveaway prizes and advertising. Beaudoin urges other churches to apply for evangelism grants and follow up effectively with those who attend their outreach events.
In fact, New Vision is helping other congregations do that. Representatives from several other churches in the San Diego Southern Baptist Association were present at this year’s Community Fest to participate in the evangelism efforts and to learn how to make their own events more effective.
“Actually engage with the people,” Beaudoin said. “Anybody can pass out candy. Anybody can run an arts-and-crafts table. Anybody can do all the stuff you do at outreaches. But if you have people with intentional engagement,” guests experience a new level of interest. “For them, nobody has ever done that.”
Any California Southern Baptist church that has given through the Cooperative Program in the past 12 months may apply for an evangelism grant at https://csbc.com/evangelism-grant-request/.
David Roach is a pastor, author, and professor. A native of New Mexico, he has pastored Shiloh Baptist Church in Saraland, Alabama, since 2020. He attended Vanderbilt University (BS in philosophy) and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (PhD in church history, MDiv in biblical and theological studies).
He has pastored Emmanuel Baptist Church in Shelbyville, Kentucky, and worked as chief national correspondent for Baptist Press in Nashville, Tennessee. He also has taught at several Southern Baptist colleges and seminaries and served on the staffs of churches in Kentucky and New Mexico. His writing has appeared in Baptist Press and Christianity Today among other outlets. He authored the 2021 book The Southern Baptist Convention & Civil Rights, 1954-1995.
David is married to Erin, who is from the Lexington, Kentucky, area and holds a journalism degree from the University of Kentucky. Erin served nearly two decades as a writer and editor for Baptist Press. They have three children—Caroline, Mallory, and Hutton. David enjoys reading, golf, and sports—including the Vanderbilt Commodores. But he really loves spending time with Erin and their kids.
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