"I will make you fishers of men."
Like many people who move to Roscommon County I love to hunt and fish. This affinity continued when I came to Christ. At times, I felt guilty because I enjoyed them too much. Still the Lord said he would give us the desires of our hearts. He never took the desire to hunt and fish away from me. Like the disciples who went fishing after Jesus left the earth I told Jesus that if he wanted me to give more time to evangelism and not hunting I was willing. Instead he did something even more miraculous, He made me a fisher of men.
Twenty-three years ago, Roscommon Baptist Church (RBC) started a wild game dinner to share the gospel with sportsmen who may never darken the door of any church. We feed them all kinds of wild game, and homemade desserts. We give out amazing door prizes and we earn the right to share the gospel with these hard-core outdoors men, women and children. It is important to try to get the best speakers available, and this past year we asked Chuck McAllister the former host of Adventure Bound Outdoors TV and the Evangelism director for the Kentucky Baptist Association. Working with the Baptist State Convention of Michigan (BSCM) we saw an opportunity to get Chuck here, and have him speak at the March men's retreat and stay over for the Wild Game Dinner at Bambi Lake Baptist Retreat and Conference Center. More than 400 people attended this year’s event. Fourteen men made decisions for the Lord during the men's retreat and 79 people during the Wild Game Dinner. What is the key to such results?
Affinity evangelism! Chuck McAllister who used and taught this form of outreach in Kentucky and many other states says, "Affinity Evangelism is a strategy to help churches find exciting, innovative ways to share Jesus with the “people groups” in their communities. These groups aren’t necessarily ethnic in nature; the groups are made up of people who have a common affinity—a similar interest, hobby, need, or concern. When churches design appealing ways to connect with people according to their affinities, they find an open door to building friendships and helping people encounter Jesus.”
McAllister continues, “Jesus and His disciples used Affinity Evangelism, meeting people where they were, and sharing the good news using parables and illustrations the common man could understand. When Paul visited Athens (Acts 17:16-34), he preached boldly in the marketplaces and to the community leaders, connecting with those listening to him by starting with what was important to them. He found a way to use their interests as an “in” for the Gospel."
To extend relationships with outdoors people the “Outdoor ministries program” at RBC has joined a youth archery program called “Centershot Ministries”, a hunter safety program, “hooked for life” fishing program and a Kicking Bear Camp weekend retreat at Bambi Lake for families. We also do youth hunts to give youngsters a chance to enjoy the great outdoors. Each event has had varying degrees of response, but we are focused on the outdoor affinities because 2 of 3 people in our area recreate in the out of doors. We will be doing another dinner March 10, 2018 and Big game hunter and President of Southern Seminary, Paige Patterson, will be share his hunting stories and his first love Jesus Christ.
What's cooking at your church? I think I smell the muskrat stew!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Mike Ritchie attends Roscommon Baptist Church in Roscommon, MI where he serves as the Director for Outdoor Ministries as well as the Sunday School Director. He also runs the local chiropractic office in town along with assistance from his wife, Laurie.