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

Going Dutch?

HamburgerI recently went to lunch with a couple of my friends. When the waitress came to take our order we told her that we were going “Dutch.” She got a puzzled look in her eyes and I thought perhaps she had just not heard me so I repeated myself. The young lady asked, “What’s that?” I asked if she had not heard that phrase before: “We’re going Dutch.” To my surprise, she said that she had never heard that expression before. I began to feel very old and realized an important truth concerning evangelism all at the same time.

Since most of our expressions of faith are learned inside our faith communities, how can we expect anyone outside of those communities to understand every acronym, slang term, or “ordinance” of the Church? In short—we can’t. For example, I told a young man once that I was an ordained minister. He said, “What’s that?” This man had never been in church and did not know the first thing about church language. Thankfully, he was gracious enough to ask what something meant. When trying to share what God has done in your life with someone else, you must never take it for granted that they understand the language of your faith community.

Although Jesus Christ said that no one can come to him “except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44, KJV), we must accept some responsibility for the words we use when presenting the Gospel message. It is our job to work hard at simplifying our spiritual language and present it in a spirit of Christ’s love and grace. Paul told the Colossians in chapter 4:6 (ESV), “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Being gracious will go far in helping us communicate as we seek to share biblical truths.

Since most people we talk to usually try to be polite, unchurched people won’t normally tell us when they fail to understand something we have said. That’s why it is so crucial to understand your audience and foster a gracious attitude. Wouldn’t you appreciate it if someone talked with you about important issues with a gracious attitude and in a language that you could understand—and even allowed you opportunities to ask questions? Most assuredly, we all would.

For Him,
Dr. Marshall M. Windsor

March 28, 2016 Posted by | Devotions, Outreach | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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