Branson Church Reaches Out Through Food Bank
by: Stafford North | December 10, 2015
The West 76th Street Church of Christ in Branson, Missouri, uses their food distribution program as a very specific plan for outreach into the community. As you enter their building at 206 Ellen Street, you will see about a hundred pictures of people who are either confessing Christ and/or being baptized. This small congregation has had 112 baptisms since it was founded eighteen years ago, mostly through its benevolent program. During 2015, about thirty have been baptized. The local congregation provides funds for the food and, in addition, some of the many visitors to the church services in Branson become aware of what they are doing and wish to help with funds to purchase food.
Jerry North, the minister, oversees the program which ties evangelism and benevolence very closely. The church places an ad in the local paper which tells people that “Food For Thought About Jesus” is available by calling a phone number. When people call, they are told that before receiving the food, they will be asked to watch a forty- minute video about Jesus and that they then can ask questions. About 70 percent of those who call go make an appointment to come for the video and then the food. When the person arrives, he/she watches the Jule Miller video No. 4 about how to become a Christian and the need for baptism.
Following the video, the person is asked about his/her response to this information and can ask any questions they wish. More teaching follows. If the person then wants to be baptized, they can or they may choose not to. Either way they are still led to the food pantry where they can pick out a sack of food. Those who request food are usually allowed to come up to four additional times to get food, but each time they are shown a different one of the Jule Miller videos and have further teaching.
After a person is baptized, North counsels them about how to remain faithful as a Christian. The person is told of the need to stay in contact with the church and the possible harmful influence of getting with those who might lead them astray. North also teaches about the oneness of the church and how the church is not a denomination. The church stays in contact as they can.
Some of those baptized begin attending the church there. North says he also has heard from churches as far away as California, Kansas, and Michigan that someone who has come for food in Branson, has made contact with the church there.
For more information about this program, call Jerry North, minister, at 417-337-3772 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. This congregation in Branson invites you to stop by and observe the teaching setup they use. North says they use the Jule Miller videos because they believe them to be the least threatening to first contact people.
The West 76th Street Church of Christ has two Sunday morning services. The 9 a.m. service is designed for visitors who usually want to come to church early and then be free for the day while the 10:40 a.m. service serves primarily those who live in Branson who do not wish to come so early.