by Jeremy D. Smith, used by permission of Demopolis Times

DEMOPOLIS, Ala. (BNc) — Over the next few weeks, Demopolis and Gallion residents will receive the latest issue of “House to House, Heart to Heart.” The publication, which took its roots in Tiplersville, Miss., in 1994, began circulating in the Demopolis area in March 2008.

“I had seen the response in other towns similar to Demopolis and wanted to give it a try here,” said Justin Paschall, the pulpit minister of the Canal Heights church of Christ in Demopolis.

Paschall, who took over pulpit duties at the congregation in 2007, believed the publication could serve as a supplement to Canal Heights’ evangelistic efforts. After meeting with the congregation’s elders, the decision to move forward with the effort was made.

“It is a door opener,” Paschall said of the bi-monthly magazine that reaches 4,700 homes in Demopolis and Gallion. “I have talked to countless people that know who we are because of House to House.”

The publication exists as part of a non-profit effort based out of Jacksonville, Ala. What started as an opportunity to reach approximately 1,000 homes in Mississippi has grown into a publication that goes out to more than 2.7 million mailboxes nationwide every two months and reaches 16.2 million homes over the course of a year.

“It grew from that to us being able to help churches who wouldn’t ordinarily be able invest that kind of time or have that type of capability,” Matt Wallin of House to House said of the change the newsletter has seen over its 15 years of existence. “We do the majority of the production for them and allow them to customize it with their own information so they can still be the point of contact in their community.”

Part of the appeal of House to House is that its content is able to reach across demographic lines, helping to bring he message of the gospel to a broad audience.

“The idea is that you teach people the basic things first,” Wallin said. “I think with House to House, we are able to get into people’s homes under the basic, fundamental principle that there is a God who created the world and still loves and cares about the people in it today; so much so that he sent his son to die for them.”

“It’s not meant to be controversial. It is meant to open up dialogues and discussions,” Paschall added. “A general article written about obeying God can lead to a specific discussion of what that entails.”

The majority of the content in each issue is produced by Allen Webster, a well-regarded Christian writer and minister of the Jacksonville (Ala.) church of Christ. Webster, who initially founded the publication, still serves as the managing editor of House to House, but has since been able to assemble a staff that assists in the mission of reaching homes around the country.

In addition to Webster’s writings, each congregation is given the opportunity to provide its own articles and announcements for specific sections of House to House.

Since implementing the program in Marengo County more than a year ago, Canal Heights has seen measurable success and response from the community. That prompted the congregation to extend its work with House to House.

“We’ve had phone calls. There is a fill-in-the-blank section in House to House that has been sent in. We have had requests for Bible literature and several Bible study courses through the mail,” Paschall explained.

While the effort has seen success thus far, Paschall was clear that the publication is only one tool utilized by the congregation and does not account for the whole of the group’s evangelistic efforts.

“Nowhere in the Bible do we see an example of obedience by proxy,” Paschall said. “And House to House is only a tool to assist us in fulfilling the great commission.”

Editor’s Note: You can assess the Demopolis Times website at:  http://ow.ly/sIMH

Barbara has been involved in missions for over 25 years, both in the field and in publishing.