Arizona church uses pingpong balls to track outreach

PHOENIX – Like some other churches around the country, Valley Life Church in the Tramonto neighborhood of Phoenix has adopted the “Who’s Your One?” evangelism initiative promoted by the North American Mission Board and Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear. But Valley Life may be the only church using pingpong balls to mark their progress.

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When the church adopted Who’s Your One, they set up a visual display to showcase the movement’s success – a clear box containing different colored pingpong balls. Each color signifies a portion of the church’s reach – white balls represent invitations to church, green stands for intentional gospel conversations and orange denotes baptisms.

Since implementing the initiative, Brian Bowman, pastor of Valley Life Tramonto, witnessed a chain reaction of salvations and baptisms.

First, Bowman led Justin Hummel to Christ. Hummel then shared Jesus with his wife Maria and Justin baptized her at the next church service. Two weeks later, the couple brought Maria’s sister Becca to church, where Bowman engaged her in conversation.

“After church, when I was sharing the gospel with Becca, Justin put his hand on my chest and said, ‘Pastor, do you mind if I jump in here and just tell her what you told me?'” Bowman recalled. “Justin turned to John 3:7-16 and shared the good news with Becca. Becca repented of her sins and trusted Jesus that day.”

Other churches in Arizona have developed their own methods for reaching their “ones.”

Mercy Hill Church in downtown Phoenix placed a wooden cross front and center in the sanctuary one Sunday. Worshipers were challenged during one of the worship songs to write down on an index card the name of one person with whom they could share the gospel.

After the song ended, everyone in the pews came forward and stapled their “one” to the cross. Those names have been continuously prayed over and remain in the sanctuary as a reminder to everyone who identified their one.

“I have been hearing stories from church members boldly engaging in gospel conversations in waiting rooms, coffee shops, living rooms and park benches because we believe it begins with one conversation at a time,” said Mercy Hill pastor Anthony Cox. “Their boldness inspires others to take bold steps in engaging gospel conversations.”

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John Guillott, pastor of Green Valley Baptist Church in Green Valley, Ariz., discovered Who’s Your One at the Engage 24 event sponsored by NAMB in Phoenix earlier this year and quickly began to implement it in his church. During a sermon series on heaven, he presented members with many questions they could use with their “ones” to initiate spiritual dialogue. Since implementing, a few people have joined the church.

“When we talk about sharing our faith, many of our folks feel inadequate,” Guillott said. “The challenge is to start out with one person. We found that to be more manageable for the average layperson.”

In explaining Who’s Your One, Greear has said, “It doesn’t matter how many buildings we construct, churches we plant or sermons we preach if we’re not intent on doing everything so that lost men, women and children will experience the transforming work of God. Without that one thing, we fail.”

Greear’s Church, The Summit Church in the Durham, N.C., began Who’s Your One and saw 650 baptized in one year.

In February, the North American Mission Board launched an initiative to promote Who’s Your One nationally, and it has quickly gained momentum in Arizona and around the U.S.

Written by Baptist Press, the official news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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