How My Church Connected With Our Neighbors To Share the Gospel
Last week I challenged Redeemer Church with this question. When was the last time a person from a local Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist or even Episcopal church knocked on your door to share the gospel with you? There was silence.
Here was the follow-up question. When was the last time someone who you did not know intentionally tried to evangelize you? Again, there was silence.
Their silence both stunned me and confirmed for me a growing concern. Are evangelicals giving up on evangelism?
In a room of fifty people, there was not one story of another denomination intentionally trying to reach out to them with the gospel. Several had stories of fliers coming through the mail. But none of them had a story of a person intentionally inviting them to attend church.
Is there any mystery as to why the church is failing?
Old School Evangelism
Growing up in a Christian environment, personal evangelism was just a regular part of our spiritual lives.
I remember a time when Tuesday evening visitation was as routine as Sunday morning church. My parents would leave me at home with a babysitter and go off to visitation.
That phase of church outreach was supported by the well known Evangelism Explosion training popularized by Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. Participants would receive extensive training in ways to share the gospel with strangers. They were then sent off to call on people equipped with their training. A list of people that had previously visited the church was distributed to evangelistic teams and they would go and visit their homes. Many lives were touched through that process – including my parents.
But like all programs, visiting homes has slipped out of fashion. Today, people are no longer visiting churches and sadly, Christians are not visiting people. What is the result? Stagnation.
Intentionally Designing Gospel-Centered Connections
As I have been pondering Redeemer’s outreach ministry, this idea kept returning to my mind – go and visit your neighbors. If people do not come to us, then we must go to them. That’s not rocket science. It’s the logical conclusion.
But how do we do this? How do we approach our neighbors with the gospel? How do you foster in your congregation the evangelistic discipline to sharing the gospel when they never experienced it?
Let me suggest that you begin designing outreach around the idea of “creating connections.”
The leadership of Redeemer was planning to host a Trunk or Treat Fall Festival just before Halloween. So this provided the perfect outreach opportunity to test my hypothesis.
I recruited 11 to 12 people from the church and formed four teams. One member designed a beautiful 4 by 6″ invitation card for the teams to hand out. You can download the flyer here.
I challenged each group to give out fifty cards – one to each home. That would mean 200 hundred homes could potentially be reached in one afternoon.
We scheduled the outreach the Sunday before the event. So our neighbors had 1-week to think and respond.
On the day of the Fall Festival, we experienced a huge turnout to our church with the majority of individuals being from the immediate neighborhood. We noticed that the majority of people walked on foot to the event.
Through our efforts, we were able to make dozens of contacts and even follow up with individuals who had been previously contacted by our outreach program. We were able to minister through our prayer request tent as well as through personal interactions.
Designing Corporate Outreach Events
I believe that was a game changer for Redeemer. It showed us that people were willing to come to church if we connected with a need.
Here is my concluding thought.
Intentionally designing an outreach with multiple contact points was strategic in the success of the Fall Festival. Even more, it gave us far more insight into our surrounding community in one afternoon than in the past three years of ministry.