When it comes to finding unique ways to share the gospel, David Evans is always on the lookout.
Evans, pastor of Springfield Baptist Church, recently learned that Springfield and Robertson County, Tennessee, have a large population of people who own Jeeps. He also discovered that Jeep owners like rubber ducks.
“The Jeep community has a thing with rubber ducks,” Evans explained. When those who have a Jeep see another Jeep in a parking lot, they probably have a rubber duck in their car because in that community, they’ll just walk up and they’ll put it on the hood or in the driver’s door handle and then leave, he said.
The rubber duck has become a symbol of encouragement to Jeep owners, Evans added. “When I hear of something unique like this, I naturally think, ‘How can we use this to share the gospel?’”
Prior to becoming pastor at Springfield Baptist, Evans served as evangelism team leader for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
“Throughout the years, Southern Baptists have done ourselves a disservice because when you look at our evangelism training techniques, most of them involve memorizing an outline or knocking on a stranger’s door,” he observed.
While those efforts have “produced a lot of great fruit,” he noted, many Southern Baptists are not comfortable with speaking to strangers.
So, when ministers say the words evangelism or outreach, people get scared, Evans said.
“They’re like, ‘I’m not going to do that.’ And to some degree, I don’t blame them. Big personalities like mine that never meet a stranger, can walk up to a stranger’s door, recite an outline and really talk and have a conversation,” he said, adding that he realizes most people are not comfortable with that approach.
“As a pastor, I have to think, ‘How can I help everybody share the gospel?’ I have discovered two basic principles. They have to want to share the gospel, and they need to be excited to tell others about Jesus.”
On a recent Sunday morning, Evans launched a unique way to reach people in the community, or at least those who drive Jeeps, with the gospel.
The church bought 500 rubber ducks and had a QR code on them which would lead them to the church’s website to a page which informs them that “not only does the Jeep community love you, but Jesus also loves [you],” Evans said.
Ducks in demand
With the ducks surrounding him on the platform as he preached, Evans explained what he wanted the congregation to do. When it came time for the congregation to come to the front and get some ducks to pass out, there was a brief hesitancy, Evans realized “it was a sink or swim idea.”
All of a sudden, however, people started swarming to the front and every duck was taken that morning. I didn’t have any extra. I had people calling me asking, ‘Are you going to order some more?’”
Evans instructed the congregation to place the duck on the hood or in the door handle. “I told them to walk away, don’t talk to anybody, don’t look at anybody and don’t stand there waiting for someone to come up. Just leave the duck and let it do the talking,” Evans said. It sounds odd but it worked, Evans said, adding that the rubber duck served the purpose of a gospel tract because it led the recipients to the website.
Evans also asked church members to send him videos or photos of them leaving the ducks. He noted the effort has gotten his members excited about doing evangelism. “They are calling me, asking me to order more ducks.”
The Springfield pastor has been pleased with the results.
Those who have received ducks have gone to the website and left responses. One person wrote he was having a terrible day, but his spirits were lifted when he saw the message from the church.
Just as importantly, however, his congregation is excited about evangelism, he observed. “That is the attitude I am trying to create here.”