This is the second week with James. If you didn’t read last week, here’s more on James, or skip down for the interview.
James Lim is the pastor of Faith Presbyterian Church (OPC) in Long Beach, CA. A long-established OPC church (founded in 1941), James has served for 10 years in Long Beach–one of the most racially, ethnically, and economically diverse communities in CA. He also formerly served as an Associate Pastor for 5 years at Lake Sherwood OPC in Orlando. James started his ministry time as an intern in the PCA in La Jolla, CA and at the historic Independent Presbyterian Church in Savannah, GA under Terry Johnson. James and his wife, Taylor, have two high-school-aged daughters.
This week, the final 3 responses in our interview….
Question: What is a great idea or practice you learned from someone outside the Reformed world (something you learned in pre-Reformed days that you still do or something you’ve picked up from those outside the Reformed world) Doesn’t have to be you personally, could be church practice.
James: I don’t know if this counts, but Kevin Harney is an evangelical in the RCA. I thought his thesis in his book, “Organic Outreach for Churches” was so simple. I wondered why I hadn’t thought of it myself. His thesis is to take what we already do well as a church and turn some of it outward toward those outside of our church. So, if your church has a strong meal ministry for the sick and new mothers in the church, then turn some of it to include the sick and new mothers you know outside the church. Another insight was to put our money where our priorities are. If we want to do outreach and evangelism, then we should fund it as a priority the same way we fund discipleship, fellowship, and foreign missions.
Question: What is a great idea or practice you learned from someone within the Reformed world?
James: I learned to do personal evangelism through the late D. James Kennedy’s Evangelism Explosion. I still share the gospel and do pastoral interviews with the opening question, “If you were to die tonight and stand before God and he were to say to you, ‘why would I let you into my heaven’ what would you say?” It’s a very helpful diagnostic question that enables me to see where a person is spiritually.
Question: What is the most “successful” outreach thing you’ve done or what has most contributed to your “success?” —not necessarily you personally, could be something you’ve implemented in church life or a collective church practice or approach.
James: The most “successful” outreach that we’ve done is hosting a summer neighborhood carnival at our church. We have bounce houses, games, prizes, face-painting, etc. as well as catered street food. We also put out a literature table with books, tracts, and church welcome pamphlets. Our community looks forward to it every year and there’s always a good number of people who come back to attend our church services. In the last several years, before Covid, we’ve always had at least one person or family return and some have been converted as a result of the neighborhood outreach. It’s also a boost to the evangelistic life of our whole church. Members invite their friends and neighbors who wouldn’t ordinarily come to a church service, but feel comfortable coming to the carnival. Then, as they meet our members and feel comfortable and welcomed, they end up visiting a service at a later date because they already feel “safe and welcomed”.