Friday, June 02, 2017

Evangelism - How - No 3


Local Church Based Outreach

As we continue to look at the need to spread the good news of salvation I have been asked to give some examples of how this can be achieved. Please bear in mind that this list is not exhaustive. You may have many ways of reaching out with the gospel that have not crossed my mind but the Lord has opened up for you. Some of the examples I give may not be possible in conjunction with an established local assembly. For instance the example below of outreach at football matches could simply work with you going to the area where a match is taking place and giving out leaflets or preaching to the crowds. In the example I give in this article the outreach is linked to an assembly, as the assembly premises are located close to a Football Stadium.

The second point I would like to make is this. The instruction given to Christians about spreading the message is threefold:

  1. Preach the word” (2.Tim.4.2)
  2. Go out with the gospel - “go, ye therefore” (Matt.28.19); and
  3. Go to into the entire world with the message - “go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” – (Mark.16.15).
We do not have biblical guidelines about where we can preach, to whom we can preach or the situations in which we can preach. To listen to some preachers you would think we had detailed rules about when and where we can preach the gospel. All we have is specific and clear instructions that state we must go, we must go to all peoples in all places and we must preach scripture. The maxim “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” must underpin all of our outreach and preaching (Romans.10.17)

My final point in my introduction is this. Always seek the Lord’s guidance and direction before starting any work. This is not an excuse to be lazy or visionless but a reminder that “except the lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it” (Psalm.127.1). A careful reading and study of the book of Acts and Romans 15 will give some examples of visionary planning to spread the gospel aligned to a sensitive awareness that the Lord will open or close doors as He sees fit.

Parent and Toddler Work

My experience has been that you can use this opportunity to get to know people in your community. A short message can be given explaining the gospel or a brief bible story for children. You build bridges and an awareness of what the word of God says as well as laying simple foundations from the word of God for another generation. To be truthful I did not see the full benefit initially but have learned that this simple (but hard) work creates many opportunities that can be developed over years to bring adults and children to other gospel outreach meetings.

Bible Exhibition

Opening your hall up and erecting a bible exhibition for a week can be a very worthwhile exercise. The other alternative is to approach local schools to enquire if they would be happy to host the bible exhibition in their school hall. This exercise provides the opportunity for children and adults to be presented with the word of God in a setting that they do not feel is threatening. We all know that the power of scripture is immense and so exposing people to the word of God can only be beneficial in the long run.

A number of bible exhibitions are available for use around the United Kingdom. They are all slightly different, some have been around a long time (The Ayrshire Bible Exhibition) and some are very new (The Bromborough Bible Exhibition). It is worth doing some research to see what is available and thinking about how you could use an exhibition effectively to support your gospel work.

Gospel Meetings

For most of us this is a very standard, practical and most effortless way of reaching out with the gospel. We need to be conscious of the guidance of the Lord and of practical issues when arranging meetings. Times, format, singing or not singing, location etc are not biblical issues but issues that need to be addressed from time to time. Our key instruction from scripture is “to preach”, where, when and to whom will be variable dependent on our situation and circumstances. If I am being honest my major concern is often the lack of effort we all put in to getting people to hear the message. That might however not be the result of nervousness about the message but about these other issues. To give the Lord’s people the confidence to bring people along to gospel meetings we need to be sure of the following:

1.   The preacher can preach
2.   There will be a warm and friendly reception for those who come - the message of the gospel will offend but the way it is preached and the attitude of the preacher and the Christians should not nor should the atmosphere in a venue seem cold and hostile – sadly this is often the case.
3.   That a timeless message is not presented in such a way that people think it is an old and irrelevant message – sometimes our halls, our dress and our very style of language would make you think that this message is a relic of a past era rather than the life changing, relevant message of good news.

Community Gospel Tea

In addition to our regular gospel meetings we have been running a community gospel tea for a number of years now. This starts with some singing, a short story for children and a gospel message. Keeping the message clear, simple and in language that people understand is very important. After the message has been delivered we serve a light tea. This gives people time to chat and give us the opportunity to talk with those unsaved that come along. We have seen over twenty unsaved come in from the local community, a number have come back to other meetings. 

Community Visits - more commonly known as Door-to-Door Work

I personally find this a very hard work to do. It is quite scary to start in a fresh area effectively cold calling and trying to explain who you are, what you are doing and why you would be so bold as to know the door of a person you have never met before. There are a number of evangelists in the UK who do this very effectively.

Where you have existing contacts in a community you would be wise to start visiting them. Showing an interest in people and being willing to help them with their problems is a very important way of building bridges and gaining people’s respect. We need to be honest why would you listen to someone you do not trust or who has never shown an interest in you.

Where I am working in a new area I start of with a very low-key approach. I am not at the door to preach but to introduce myself and to invite them to a meeting or some form of gospel outreach. It has been helpful at times to offer a free copy of the bible or to invite requests for prayer. This shows people that you are interested in people and not just trying to sell them religion. We know that ‘selling religion’ is not what we are about but they don’t and we need to win their confidence.

Leaflet Distribution

There are many opportunities that come up from time to time to give out large quantities of literature at events. I know that a number of believers have focused on this very effectively. Our first attempt to do this was during Liverpool’s year as European City of Culture. Every house with an “L” postcode received a leaflet that had been specially written for “Liverpool 08” as it was called.

Since then we have been trying to capture and use as many other opportunities as possible For instance this year, as many assemblies have done, we have written tracts for the Chilean Miners tragedy, the Titanic Event and the Olympic Torch event.

In addition to this we have been focusing on covering certain areas of the city of Liverpool with literature. Some assemblies that I work with have purchased a half page of print in a local newspaper and on a bi monthly basis are writing articles and inviting people to meetings and outreach in their hall. In one case this means they get literature into 19,000 homes at the cost of £150 per issue. Very cost effective, the results as always have to be left to the Lord. Incidentally this particular assembly had ten people come to their hall as a result of the first article/advert. It’s worth the effort!

Book and leaflet stalls

If you are going to get involved in this form of outreach I feel that you have to be prepared to be in it for the long run. A table or a stand in a shopping mall or precinct is a good way to get to know people and to build up a profile in an area. Some believers in assemblies in Belfast set up a table in an indoor shopping area, served Christmas pie and gave our calendars. What a good idea – getting the word of God in the hands of people.

Some people have set up a market stall and man it every week. They make lots of contacts and people take literature and often engage in conversation.

Just remember to get the right permission and to get the right people to run the stall, not Mr. Grumpy, as you are trying to win souls not chase them away. Good, well produced literature, books and gospel messages on CD. Make sure everything has website addresses and contact numbers on them – this applies to all literature work.


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