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Churches that regularly use special events for evangelism are more effective at outreach, at least among Southern Baptist congregations, according to a new study from Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary and the North American Mission Board.

The study, which looked at results from 3,200 Southern Baptist churches, found that two-thirds of the congregations that were most effective at sharing the gospel do so through a combination of event- and relationship-based evangelism strategy.

The most effective churches do several events annually and put significant effort into preparation before the event and follow up with visitors afterward. The study defined evangelistic events as those that intentionally draw lost people through relationships and attraction, clearly present the gospel and provide an invitation to respond.

"A lot of churches have pursued a missional approach to evangelism and church growth to the neglect of attractional evangelistic events that will draw people in," Jerry Pipes, team leader for mass evangelism at the North American Mission Board, to the Baptist Press. "It's like asking a pilot flying over the Pacific Ocean whether he wants his right wing or his left wing. The answer is you need both wings—both missional methodologies and an attractional model."

Among the top churches, the most popular types of events were holiday, revival-style and sports-related events, in that order.

"Events help get people mobilized, and mobilized people reach out to their friends," said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research. "In research we conducted for our book Comeback Churches, we found that doing evangelistic outreach events was a key part of many churches' revitalization." [, 10/7/10]

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