The Evangelism Group

Equipping The Future

Outreach – Celebrate The Little Things!

celebrate_smallI recently had the privilege of helping a church with some outreach events. The schedule included a time of encouraging those participating in the outreach (about a dozen) on Friday evening, a breakfast and teaching session Saturday morning, followed by our outreach event. This was the first time that this church had conducted an outreach like this so everyone was wondering how it would turn out (would anyone actually come to the event?!).

First of all, I was so encouraged by the number of folks coming together to help with the outreach! Having a dozen-plus folks show up for outreach in a smaller community is huge. The event was held in the church parking lot and included free hot dogs (cooked onsite) with all the fixings, chips and drinks; as well as some prize drawing giveaways—all while the church’s worship team played and testimonies were shared. The outreach schedule started at 11 a.m. and began wrapping up at 2:30 p.m.

Initially, the pastor wasn’t too excited about this first time event. But, I brought several things to his attention. First, the community was more aware than ever that a church existed in their community that cared enough to offer some hospitality to their neighbors. Second, approximately seventy (70) visitors wandered through the festivities, which was great for a first-time event like this! Third, consistent events pay off. Don’t make pass or fail judgments on the turnout of one event. Word will spread and the community just may begin looking forward to a church’s annual event if it’s done with excellence in the right spirit of ministry.

The pastor agreed that this would be something worth continuing and that the event was as good for the church family as it was for the community. As a matter of fact, at one point the pastor stated, “If this outreach was for nobody else, it was for us.” That’s one of the paradigms of working with God and obeying the Great Commission: when we are obedient to take the gospel to our communities, God actually does a work in us and in our church family as well. How ironic, that we truly receive something new and refreshing from the Lord when we work to give away that which we already have—the hope of Christ. So celebrate the little things and watch them grow!

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December 25, 2016 Posted by | Devotions, Outreach | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Give Up!

basketballplayerRecently, I chatted with a local pastor about his evangelism efforts in a smaller, rural community. His church isn’t that large so finding volunteers for any kind of outreach initiative is challenging. The larger churches in town seem to have most of the popular holidays—like July 4th—wrapped up with all their resources. This pastor tried many things that just did not seem successful over the years, except for their live nativity scene at Christmas that usually garnered around seventy or more cars. He was at his wits end and more than happy to visit about possibilities.

In talking with this pastor I sensed his discouragement, frustration, and hopelessness all at the same time. It wasn’t like the church wasn’t interested in evangelism, or had not tried to reach their community. They had tried numerous things to seemingly no avail. So what is a church leader to do in that kind of situation? When it seems as though you have tried it all but the fruit is missing?

The first thing I encourage any pastor to do is “Don’t give up!” When so many things go wrong or seem unfruitful, it’s easy to get discouraged and quit doing even those things that have been fruitful for your ministry. Step back and prayerfully consider what has provided even a slight reward. Repetition is often a church’s best avenue of bringing awareness to a community and the live nativity was a prime example. Seventy cars is a great number for a smaller community!

The second thing I encouraged this pastor to pray about was their web site. Since over eighty percent of first time visitors explore a church’s website it should be easy to navigate and up to date. Too much flash (small videos) on church websites can actually be a turnoff to many people, so keep it simple. Although difficult to believe, not everyone has high-speed Internet.

Lastly, for now, see what’s important to your community and become involved. Most smaller communities—and even larger ones—value authentic relationships. That means visibly building relationships one at a time in that community and finding out where there are needs that your ministry could help with—from adopting school playgrounds to the volunteer fire department. So don’t give up! As St. Augustine once said: “Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.”

God’s Best!
Marshall

July 4, 2016 Posted by | Devotions, Outreach | , , | 2 Comments

A Divine Adjustment

GymnistSmallThe older I get the more I realize that I’m not as flexible as I used to be back in my high school days. On rare occasions, when I overexert myself now, my back gives me fits and gets out of sorts. Sometimes, it even forces me to go to a local chiropractor for a little adjustment. I’ve found over the years, that the doctor’s initial adjustment usually isn’t the last adjustment needed, but that there are little shifts along the way to recovery. Recently, I had a really stubborn case of back pain—to the point that my wife, Nancy, even said: “You’re still walking crooked.”

I almost never go back to have a second adjustment with a chiropractor—once is usually enough for me! However, this past week I just couldn’t get things lined out myself. I had upcoming services and did not want to battle back pain while out of town. So, I made a decision to see if there were any openings at the chiropractor’s office for another adjustment—not realizing that God was getting ready to work through me to touch someone’s life.

Luckily, they had an opening and I was able to drive right over. After my adjustment, the doctor and I started talking about things and he shared some serious challenges he was facing. I asked if I could pray for him and he readily accepted my invitation. I hardly ever ask my doctors if I can pray for them—and actually hope that I don’t need to see them very often at all! However, this time I felt impressed to ask permission and afterwards, I could tell that this had been a divine appointment. The frustration of having to go through another round with my chiropractor paled next to the realization that he needed God’s touch on his life.

All that to say, evangelism isn’t always about preaching to someone—sometimes the Lord just wants to use you as a vessel of His love and blessing for someone else. After all, our lives might be the only imitation of Christ that most people will actually listen to or see. The apostle Paul even said in 1 Cor. 11:1, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” Honestly, our actions usually speak louder than words, but sometimes the Lord prompts us to speak, to ask, to listen, and to pray. I hope you will.

May 23, 2016 Posted by | Devotions, Outreach | , , , | Leave a comment

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