Total baptisms reported from U.S. Congregation: 2,345
Total Seminars Conducted: 181
Total baptisms reported from U.S. Congregations in 2022: 980
Total Personal Seminars in 2022: 57
Personal Seminars in 2023: 1
Digital Enrollments for 2023: 15
Total baptisms reported from U.S. Congregations so far in 2023: 28
Featured Work- HTHSOE Congregations
The Great Commission Awards
With so much good news, it is hard to choose what to highlight each week. Last week HTHSOE added the reported 2022 total seminars and total baptisms. We were overwhelmed by the results and are so thankful to God. We are only a small part in the overall work being done, and so much is known only to God. Since the summer of 2018, HTH/HTHSOE have recorded 2,345 baptisms; even more exciting is the increase each year. If this continues, we are on path to see growth in the church of Christ in the USA once again. We still have a lot of work to do, but we are heading in the right direction.
Last year, we set a new metric for congregations enrolled in HTHSOE. We suggested setting an annual goal of baptizing ten percent of your total members. Since the average rate of decline in congregations is between three-to-five percent, this allows for net visible growth. Many congregations reached or exceeded this goal. We want to recognize the following 28 congregations for their hard work and dedication to soul winning during 2022:
East Flushing, New York; South Trail, Florida; Oxford, Alabama; New Hope in Middleton, Tennessee; Riverbend in Dalton, Georgia; Gilt Edge, Tennessee; Coweta, Oklahoma; Warner Robins, Georgia; Southwest, in Austin, Texas; La Plata, Maryland; Guam (U.S. Territory); Highway, Arkansas; Lake Regions, New Hampshire; Cordova, Tennessee; North Meadville, Pennsylvania; Lafayette, Georgia; Rogersville, Tennessee; Parkway, Kentucky; Spring Valley, California; Killeen, Texas; Stafford Road, Alabama; Midtown, Texas; and Beloit, Kansas.
In addition to those who achieved ten percent, two congregations exceeded 20 percent. The Riverbend church of Christ in Dalton, Georgia, had a baptism rate of 26 percent. The Honolulu congregation had 28 percent. These numbers are exceptional. Both Austin Fowler (Riverbend) and Lima Escene (Honolulu) will be speaking at Polishing the Pulpit in 2023 about this incredible growth in hopes of helping others.
The results from these congregations reflect a combined effort of elders, deacons, preachers, and members practicing congregational evangelism. It is not just a small group within the congregation. Remember that “go ye” means “go all.” “Ye” is plural, and when a congregation works together to reach the lost, growth can be accomplished. The Great Commission does not have to be the Great Omission anymore in our nation. The results are undeniable and reproducible. We can hardly wait to see what God do through His kingdom in 2023!
Madison County church of Christ, Jackson, Tennessee: We want to welcome the Madison County church of Christ into the House to House/Heart to Heart School of Evangelism. They had excellent attendance by their members. The congregation is fully behind the HTHSOE model and ready to work.
White Oak church of Christ, Georgia (Digital): We welcome the White Oak church of Christ to the House to House/Heart to Heart School of Evangelism. This effort is being aided by Austin Fowler, one of our graduates who is taking the congregation through the training course and preaching for them. Austin reports, “During a men’s meeting on Saturday, the decision was made to show the Evangelism Seminar videos during Sunday worship. The men want everyone to be involved with as much participation as possible, so we began watching the Evangelism Seminar last Sunday morning. After services, everyone said they enjoyed the lesson and can hardly wait to hear more of the principles. We are currently working on a list of people we hope to reach. We are starting with members’ family members who are not Christians. I am excited about the plans we have in place.”
Glencoe church of Christ, Alabama: David Marker (elder) reports, “Our Christians in Action group met before the Sunday evening service. So far, we have eight contacts. We have prepared 116 cards. This year, we have mailed 182 cards. We continue to develop our evangelism model and are looking forward to our first Transition Thursday later in the month to visit these prospects. Several of our ladies prepared some evangelism bulletin boards that emphasize the six step model.”
Bethel church of Christ, Martin, Tennessee: Brad Brewer (preacher) reports, “We are working on preparing our evangelism room. We have shelving units being constructed by members, and there is an energy among the brethren for working the program and saving souls. We hope in the next two weeks to have our room organized and have a list of contacts compiled by the congregation.”
McKenzie church of Christ, Tennessee: Chance Steen (preacher) reports, “We have officially launched! Under the direction of our elders, our deacons passed out the Prospect Cards Sunday, and an elder explained how to use them. The first part of the sermon, Jesus, the Politically Incorrect Evangelist, was preached, and we explained the model as well as the direction to the congregation on Sunday night. We are all excited and looking forward to teaching the lost as the body of Christ.”
Smyrna church of Christ, Tennessee: Bob Horn (preacher) reports, “Sunday was a busy day as we had the congregation begin with their first cards to be sent out. A few wondered what we were doing and how it worked, but most jumped right in and seemed excited to help. We sorted cards and have ordered what we need to organize them in the wall rack. We have tables set up, and most if the items have been collected to assemble visitors’ bags. New movers’ baskets are in the works. I heard one member say, ‘I already can visualize them being baptized.’ It is exciting to see involvement. Our number is small, but 32 attended and wrote 17 cards to mail to a family this week. I believe that equals one card from each family that was here yesterday.”
Mid-Town church of Christ, Victoria, Texas: James Cammock (deacon) reports, “We are following up with compassion card contacts who have received cards for four weeks. We pray these encounters result in Bible studies. Our brethren continue to provide contacts. Our newest converts will be added to the program. We are having visitors on a regular basis. We focus on getting their contact information, furthering our relationship with them, and getting into personal Bible studies with them.”
Fruitvale church of Christ, Texas: Carl McCann (elder/preacher) reports, “The work continues as we follow the Evangelism Model. Brethren continue to work on the culture of the Fruitvale church. Contacts and prospects are increasing, with several positive engagements this past week.”
Highway 95 church of Christ, Taylor, Texas: Benjamin Dossey (preacher) reports, “As for an update, one of our young men took it upon himself to be in charge of the evangelism table and though it has been stocked for several weeks now, we finally got in our table cloth to complete it. In regard to the work, we continue to get more contacts and work through getting them cards. We have several who have had recent tragedies that we are doing all we can to show our love towards and additionally we are planning follow-ups with those who have been right amongst us for years but have never obeyed the gospel.”
Natalia church of Christ, Texas: Jim Word (preacher) reports, “We had two baptisms tonight Riley who I’ve been studying with submitted to baptisms confessing her belief in Christ and her mother who was baptized at a very young age felt like she needed to be baptized for the right reason this time this is Riley.”
Central church of Christ, Martinsburg, West Virginia: Robert Veil (preacher) reports, “We had another meeting to write Compassion Cards Sunday. Approximately 12 members stayed and wrote cards to six individuals in an effort to develop prospects. We began a sermon series on Marriage and the Family. In the evening service, we continued with evangelistic sermons from the book of Acts. These sermons are especially designed to reach nonmembers with the gospel. In the evening, we had a good rate of return from our own numbers, over 70 percent.”
Bona church of Christ, Missouri: Corry Orr (preacher) reports, “We have six new contacts so far this month. We are following up with several existing contacts to begin Bible studies. We pray the fields continue to be ready to harvest as we continue to seek opportunities to study God’s word with the lost. We covet your prayers as we continue to strive to grow the kingdom of God.”
New Union church of Christ, Manchester, Tennessee: Paul Fulks (elder) reports, “The elders held a three-month virtual meeting with to review our progress so far. We looked at successes and things we can do to improve. This was a profitable meeting. We continue to review the bookmarks Sunday mornings. We ask members to submit contact cards for those who have had events occur causing them to need compassion shown. We also include others we know in that same situation. We have prayer specifically for those we are prospecting. Our members have been consistent in completing and submitting new contact cards each week. A young man in our area had his leg amputated because of diabetes. He had been a member of the church but had not been faithful. One of our members, a friend, submitted him on a contact card. He was at a hard place in his life. We began showering him with cards. We shared this information with the sister congregation he had formerly attended. Both congregations showered him with cards, phone calls, and visits. He changed his attitude on life. He decided to attend services and attended for the first time Sunday. He is scheduled to get a prosthesis in February. He has a long way to go but with the help of the church, we believe he will be restored. We continue to make follow-up visits with those we have showered with compassion cards. Three follow-up visits were made this past week.”
West End church of Christ, Knoxville, Tennessee: Adam Wilson (member) reports, “At Monday Night for the Master, we had a hard-working team addressing and stamping envelopes as well as assembling compassion cards. While it looks like we have inventory for several months, we would love to run out sooner because we are reaching so many people in our community. The Prayer Board is up in the high traffic foyer. We want all members to know of and pray for the contacts who are receiving compassion cards. The Prayer Board includes Sunday announcements of the new contacts that came in over the previous week as well as Facebook posts with updates about test results, surgeries, and other news. Our hope is that this will also give relationship-building a head start when a contact visits or a newly baptized Christian joins us.”
East Main church of Christ, Murfreesboro, Tennessee: Brad Rowley (elder) reports, “Last week, the elders and ministers met with Rob Whitacre for our three-month virtual meeting. It was informative and gave us a chance to share successes and discuss strategies that we would like to improve. It is exciting to hear the success stories of all the congregations involved in the HTH model. To God be the glory. Last week, we wrote 72 compassion cards Sunday, had two Bible studies, and five new contact cards. East Main had a Mission Day on Saturday, with 14 present. We watched a training video and discussed how to get the word out on Mission Day. We reviewed the basket and follow-up procedures for gifts to new members. We were thankful to have two new visitors on Mission Day, Danny and Robin Windsor. We assigned eight follow-up contacts and 17 new movers’ baskets. We will continue to meet on Saturdays through the winter months. In April, the Mission Days will switch to Tuesday evenings at 6:00 p.m. Mark Isenberg, an elder, started a new convert class with three in attendance. Mark had a well-prepared PowerPoint presentation that proved effective. Dave and Christy Lucich continue to do a great job in making sure new converts receive a book signed by the elders and a Bible. David Brown, another elder, plans a meeting this month to update us on contacts with folks we are mentoring and add new converts to this list.”
Hatton church of Christ, Alabama: Chris Miller (preacher) reports, “We started the new year with our mission meeting Sunday. We had great attendance with more visits assigned. We have several studies by different members underway and currently are sending cards to 11 prospects. To God be the glory!”
Covington church of Christ, Tennessee: Wayne Dalrymple (elder) reports, “Becky is continuing to study with Nikki. They finished Believe the Bible and started book 1 of Back to the Bible Thursday. They studied again Monday and finished book 1 and started book 2. Jeff should be resuming his studies with Tori soon; they were paused over the holidays. The last two Sundays, we have had a family visit. Beth came with her children and younger brother. They hope to move out of Memphis. Her husband will be attending Wednesday. Beth said they have not attended anywhere the last couple of years. She said she has some background in the church but little knowledge. She is willing to study. Alan and Debbie took them out to lunch Sunday. Sunday evening, we had an unusual situation. An older gentleman I did not recognize came in and sat down. I introduced myself, and he told me that he was visiting because the church he normally attends was not having services because of a burst water pipe. He then told me it was a Baptist church. I do not know what made him decide to visit us instead of another Baptist church, but I am glad he did. He said he enjoyed the service and would be back. We will follow up with him. We are still prospecting Dustin’s mom. Sunday afternoon, Charles (a new convert) and I delivered new movers’ baskets. Of the four we delivered, there was one somewhat positive contact and one very positive contact. We sent cards to all these Monday to continue building relationships.”
Greenfield church of Christ, Tennessee: Cline Monroe (elder) reports, “Our compassion card groups have resumed sending cards this week. We are hosting a county-wide youth devotional focusing on the first lesson of Back to the Bible with hopes of gaining more interest from young people in becoming Christians. We will also be implementing a class for conducting Bible studies soon.”
Jacksonville church of Christ, Alabama: Keith Ritchie (preacher) reports, “We have completed two studies with a college student who is attending faithfully. The studies went extremely well. We are looking for a time to set up our third study.”
Honolulu church of Christ, Hawaii: Tagiilima Escene (preacher) reports, “Our focus right now is having better follow-up with new converts. We are prospecting several contacts. We have set up a meal with one person, hoping to develop a better relationship and offer an invitation for a Bible study.”
Aberdeen church of Christ, Maryland: Will Brown (preacher) reports, “This week we are working on collecting contact cards for the grieving. We are supporting two families that have lost family members in the last two weeks. We are working to get new year baskets delivered. We are following up with two Bible studies. Please continue to pray for our efforts.”
York church of Christ, Pennsylvania: Mark Raschke (deacon) reports, “We sent a second round of cards to a lady who had responded positively to the first round sent before Christmas. She originally wrote to us, responding to HTH/HTH, requesting a Bible study. Unfortunately, her phone service was disconnected, and the apartment building where she lives on the third floor has a faulty doorbell and a locked exterior door! Even so, she was very positive in her letter, asking for more material to read. So, we sent her a correspondence course. Some members wrote to her, providing addresses and phone numbers, asking to be “pen-pals.” Selected tracts were included with the cards. We pray that we are not thwarted by roadblocks way, and that the “old-fashioned” method of pen and paper works in this case. We had a rarity for our congregation—two different visitors on the same Sunday who are not members of the Lord’s church! One came in the morning, and the other in the evening. I believe that both visited in response to HTH/HTH. We gave visitor bags to both and collected contact information so we can send cards to them in the coming week.”
North Meadville church of Christ, Pennsylvania: Bryon Shultz (preacher): “I wanted to tell you that I was able to baptize Doris’ granddaughter into Christ last night. Her name is Monica.”
New Hope church of Christ, Middleton, Tennessee: Cole Wade (preacher) reports, “I have set up a time to have a Bible study with someone, and we have done a lot of cultivating and encouragement with this individual. I have great expectations from this study, so I would love some prayers!”
Rogersville church of Christ, Tennessee: Ethan Tate (preacher) reports, “We contacted a new prospect—an older gentleman. We hope to help him and eventually earn a Bible study with him. Please pray for this man that he may have his health restored so we can study to save his soul! We have a family who is interested in the congregation. We will spend time with them to develop a connection that will lead to a study, Lord willing. Please continue prayers for these prospects and others so that each member here will work toward a home Bible study. We genuinely appreciate your prayers!”
Paintsville church of Christ, Kentucky: Zach Collins (preacher) reports, “Sunday, we had 17 visitors in attendance during morning worship. Two contacts are being developed, and we hope to have a Bible study with a visitor who has been sitting with one of our elders the last two weeks. I will also be going to check on two other leads for studies given to me by members. Please keep these in your prayers!”
Riverbend church of Christ, Dalton, Georgia: Austin Fowler (member) reports, “We continue to reach out to those on our contact list. We have our upcoming annual Winter Lectureship at the end of the month, advertised in our House to House. One goal this year was to use the back cover of HTH issues to advertise events and reach out to those in our community.”
Canal Heights church of Christ, Demopolis, Alabama: Bryon Cook (preacher) reports, “This Saturday will be our monthly door knocking. We have been promoting it with announcements from the pulpit and articles in the bulletin. After door knocking Saturday, we will have our Mission Monday the following Monday. People were getting lost in the mix, but this change of schedule should allow us to plan while individuals have things fresh on our minds. We will use this time to train in evangelism, and we may do mock Bible studies and brainstorming sessions. We are excited to see what the new year has in store for us. Continue to pray for our efforts as we pray for you all.”
Southwest church of Christ, Austin, Texas: John Garza (preacher) reports, “We look forward to implementing more evangelism methods from the seminar last year. We have had great success with only a portion in the work, but piece by piece, we are working toward a more complete approach. Currently, we have many Bible studies ongoing as well as a few prospects, which is exciting. We ask for prayers of two souls who desired to obey the gospel immediately, but due to their situation of living together and having a child prior to marriage, we studied more deeply about repentance. They were not mad at the truth, but they are working through this big decision. Please pray for them at this time! To God be the glory in all things!”
Northern Oaks church of Christ, San Antonio, Texas: Mel Hutzler reports, “We had another baptism. Josh Hutzler came forward Sunday night repenting and asking prayers. He said he felt like he had his parents’ faith, but now it needs to be his faith. He said he was going through the motions and not being the example he should be. He stated he was not paying attention at worship and Bible class. He feels like he was not baptized for the right reasons; he felt as he did it for others and not for God. So, he was baptized. Please keep him in your prayers.”
Shertz church of Christ, Texas: Jay Stewart (elder) reports, “We resumed our visitor and fellowship meals after worship. A few members were under the weather, but we had a wonderful meal and great fellowship. John Grubb and his wife Eta returned last week from an overseas mission trip where they have been since October. They will be with us through March. Our door-knocking campaign is taking shape as we assemble the volunteers and train them. Our target is March. We are hoping to find a new pulpit minister as brother Crowley is retiring from full time preaching in April. We would love to hear from any qualified preacher interested (email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information).
East Flushing church of Christ, Flushing, New York (virtual): Clarence Jenkins (evangelist) reports, “We continue to pray for those on our bookmarks, and send compassion cards after worship. We started showing videos of baptisms and RTL – STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESS. We are looking forward to God adding the increase this year. We appreciate all prayers.”
Coweta church of Christ, Oklahoma: Keno Shrum (preacher) reports, “We are reaching out to the community for Bible studies and staying focused on new convert studies. The percentage of new converts that fall away within a few years is too high, and I think it is because we have a history in the church of baptizing and throwing new converts into deep water before they can swim. I appreciate HTHSOE and the focus it brings to retaining new members through mentorships and new convert studies. So, we are staying focused on both missions.”
Carthage church of Christ, North Carolina (virtual): Randy Chambers (preacher) reports, “We are rejoicing with the heavenly host over a new member of the Lord’s church. Rebecca has been studying with Cynthia for a few weeks using BTTB. On Sunday, January 8, she came forward to put on Christ in baptism. We give God the glory! We presented her with a copy of The Beginning of Our Confidence and introduced her to our First Principles Class. We have ongoing classes; a few are in the third BTTB book. We continue to stress that the power is in the seed, so we need to plant it in tender and sincere hearts. We are working the plan and encouraging members to stay the course.”
Coldwater church of Christ, Kentucky: Luke Puckett (preacher) reports, “We continued to follow up with contacts with cards, calls, and visits. We were able to start a Bible study with a family we have been helping. The husband had stomach cancer, but he is doing better. We did book one; they understood it. They asked to do book two on Saturday, so we did. It was great to see them want to know the truth. We meet Thursday to do book three. I am expecting them to accept book three just like the first two, and I expect they will obey the gospel Thursday night. We hope to have an even better update next week!”
College Avenue Church of Christ, Enterprise, Alabama: Phillip Rabren (member) reports, “I baptized my youngest daughter (now in her 40s) when she was eight, right after I had baptized her older sister. She has been unfaithful in attending worship for several years. She has come to me saying she remembers our talking together about salvation, but she has no memory of her baptism, so she questions whether she was ever saved. I suggested a study of Does It Matter? and she agreed. I had mixed emotions, and I told her she needs to do whatever it takes to ‘make her calling and election sure.’ I asked Rob for suggestions, and he gave me the following list to discuss with my daughter:
1. Did I do a Bible study before I was baptized so that I understood and reasoned through myself?
“I am happy to report that after the study of Does It Matter? along with these questions, my youngest daughter was baptized into Christ this evening.”
Rabun County church of Christ, Tiger, Georgia: McKinley Pate (preacher) reports, “We have started 2023 with enthusiasm and confidence that the Lord will continue to bless our efforts in Rabun County. We continue to reach out to those in our community with compassion cards, and we have ongoing Bible studies. One individual is close to obeying the gospel. After several back door studies with him, he has acknowledged the need to be baptized; however, he will not commit fully yet. We are still encouraging him daily to make the right decision before it is too late. Sunday, we looked at Back to the Bible lesson 3 during worship hour. Two were in attendance who have never obeyed the gospel, and they were very engaged during the sermon. Lord willing, we will begin lesson 1 with an individual who has visited numerous times recently. This individual is a member of the Methodist church and is very discouraged by where the Methodist church is heading. She wants to know about the Lord’s Church. We are focusing on the task at hand and moving forward.”
Adairsville church of Christ, Georgia: Rick Lawson (preacher) reports, “James Franklin is the nephew of one of our members, Karen Brady. He recently relocated to our area and began visiting the congregation with his aunt. James responded to the invitation on the first day of the new year and stated he wanted to go to heaven. We began our study of Back to the Bible that afternoon. After meeting each day, we studied lesson three on Wednesday, and James asked to be baptized for the remission of his sins so that he could go to heaven! The congregation has welcomed him into the fold with open arms. We will assign him to a spiritual mentor to help him continue to grow on his spiritual journey as a Christian. Each conversion stokes the fire to do even more evangelism and help the Lord’s body grow!”
North Jefferson church of Christ, Mt. Pleasant, Texas: Kris Groda reports (preacher): “We had three baptisms last week as a result of personal Bible studies. Teddarian Minter studied with Martin. Jeff Whatley has been in long and ongoing studies with the others. One was his older brother. We are so thankful. What a great day to start the new year!”
Chesapeake church of Christ, Virginia: Ernest Benjamin (preacher) reports, “I just finished lesson 1 with Nivia. It went very well. Lesson 2 is scheduled for next Thursday.” (Editor’s note: Nivia reached out to HTHSOE via our website and asked to be trained to evangelize. I noticed she was not a Christian and asked Ernest if he would do virtual studies with her as she lives in Las Vegas. Please keep this study in your prayers.)
Edgewood church of Christ, Abingdon, Maryland (digital): John Wilkie (preacher) reports, “We have almost finished booklet 3 of BTTB. We handed out card lists to all members and are putting names on contact cards that were turned in that will go out next week.”
Stafford Road church of Christ, Alabama (digital): Daniel Welker (preacher) reports, “I studied book three of BTTB with Kris Dewberry. He has been on my list for a study since 2013 when I met him while in college at Heritage Christian University and he was in college at the University of North Alabama. When we were about to read 2 Corinthians 6:2, he asked to stop there and go to the baptistery. We went to baptize him for the remission of his sins. This makes seven new Christians in less than seven months. Last Sunday, we started studying book one of Back to the Bible; we will finish next Sunday. This week, Jennifer, my wife, will be studying with a young lady who has been on her personal prospect list since we moved here. The young lady messaged her during church Sunday and said she is ready to study. We have two other ongoing studies.”
NOTE: These reports are from Christians and congregations enrolled in the House to House/Heart to Heart School of Evangelism. These emails are sent to teach and provoke one another to remain focused on the mission of Christ. Each week, we share several reports and highlight one with more details. We hope you enjoy reading them.