Last week, we shared the recurring theme in this series that pastors shared that one of the best ways to improve our evangelism is to do something….get going…stop planning and get out there in some way. We shared several examples that were also shared. This week we want to share the remaining examples that were given of congregations doing something. We hope they spur you on to get out there and “do something.”
Matthew Patton, Vandalia, OH
Before I was ordained, I was serving as an intern and I helped to organize an outreach at a nearby community college. We partnered with a student-led campus ministry that allowed us to reserve a spot in the student center, and we set up a book table covered with tracts and pamphlets. Our approach was simple: we stood in front of the table handing out tracts and saying, “We’re here talking with people about spiritual things. What do you believe about God?” After listening for a while, we often won a hearing and were able to share the gospel in a nutshell. For anyone who stopped to talk with us, we gave them a copy of the gospel of John and then invited them to a Bible study on John that we did in the student center later that afternoon. We had quite a few people come to this study, and some non-Christians even brought their friends! This study gave us opportunities to introduce people to Jesus and to the Bible (imagine: some people had never opened a Bible before and did not know about chapter and verse numbers). In a few cases, we had young people come repeatedly to the study and even attend church! When no one showed up for Bible study, I would get out my chess set and invite all comers. This led to a number of other good opportunities to make friends and share Christ, even though it came at the expense of my being crushed a few times at chess.
James Lim, Long Beach, CA
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”.
Dave Veldhorst, Oostburg, WI
I am not sure I have done anything that would be described as successful or noteworthy. I do know I have tried to model servant leadership with honest transparency of my own weaknesses and need of the gospel. I saw that modeled for me in Japan through our team leader Rev Dan Iverson. That style of leadership created a culture within our church planting team where there was humility but also courageous risk taking for the sake of Christ. I have been pleased when God, in his good pleasure, has used some growth in my life to then surround me with godly men and women who embrace that same way of living the Christian life. So rather than having a successful “outreach event” what we have seen God do is create a culture within our church where the knowledge and experience of God’s grace is real and there is a hunger to see more people added to the fellowship and those who already know Christ desiring to grow in maturity. So the formation of a gospel transformed community of believers has been far more effective at both evangelism and discipleship than any particular methodology, program, or event.
Richard Ellis, Elmer, NJ
We hired a service that provides a list of recent move-ins to the area around the church and sends to each a card we’ve designed with information about our church and an invitation to worship. Before Covid, on a monthly basis, we would fill paper bags with info about the area, cookies, a church brochure, and a gospel tract, then volunteers from our church would hand-deliver the bags to move-ins near where they themselves lived. The task was simple: knock on the door and with a warm demeanor identify themselves and our church, and offer them a gift bag. We may ask if there’s something we could pray for, or go with a conversation as far as the neighbor wishes. We had our members go out in the afternoon of our monthly Sunday evening prayer service. The energy was often high as people related conversations during that prayer service. Often someone would say, “It was a lot easier than I thought, even fun!” Sharing those stories reminds us that we’re not here for ourselves, but for our neighbors. It also removed some of the natural fear of evangelizing.
Andrew Canavan, Corona, CA
Our most successful outreach is the Christmas Lessons & Carols service we’ve held for the past two years. In Southern California the opportunities to go to a traditional Christmas service are … sparse. But nominal Christian or non-Christian families see this as a worthwhile seasonal experience. So we spread the word and invite our neighbors. When they come they hear the redemptive historical storyline of the Bible in the readings, they sing theologically rich hymns that exalt Christ, and they hear a clear gospel presentation. At the end we send them off with more information about the church plant, an invitation to get to know us better, and beautiful Christmas cookies that are professionally decorated by a talented member of the mission work. Our prayer is that this will continue to grow and bear fruit.
Lowell Ivey, VA Beach, VA
What immediately comes to mind that has been especially fruitful, apart from inviting visitors into a home after worship for a meal and fellowship, is our rotation every Lord’s Day of families willing to host singles and college students. This has served the dual purpose of giving young singles a family to spend the Lord’s Day with, but also has brought a number of unbelievers and unchurched people into our homes, where they have seen authentic Christian fellowship, participated in family worship, and had the opportunity to hear the Gospel in an unthreatening way. This single practice has grown the church both numerically and spiritually in ways that I can’t even begin to measure. It is not only a blessing to those who are invited, but those who are hosting these gatherings have also benefited from and been spiritually “stretched” by them.
Tyler Detrick, Dayton, OH
The most successful outreach thing I have done is to invest in equipping my congregation to move toward the people they meet with the gospel. This mostly happens through the ministry of the Word. As I preached through the Gospel of Luke, I pressed my congregation to hear the call of Jesus to actively approach the outcasts and outsiders with the good news that they are invited to attend the Great Feast if they turn away from their sins and trust in Jesus (Luke 14). I challenged my hearers to identify at least two people in their circles who they could prayerfully approach in this way. I soon began to hear exciting stories of evangelistic conversations with family, friends, and co-workers. Some new visitors started to attend our church. Then members of my congregation started to ask me to meet with them and their skeptic friends who were not quite ready to visit church.