“Can it lift more than 80kg in a single feat?
Or is it well-toned and healthy enough to sustain daily lifting and carrying?”
With impending Celebration of Hope (COH) coming in May 2019, there comes a huge event that promises to transform spiritual atmosphere over our nation and win many to Christ! That excitingly huge, one – time event is one we should all leverage for reaching our unsaved loved ones! However, I submit to you that it would even be better to leverage COH to build up the “muscle of evangelistic strength” of your church/ ministry for the mid – long term so that your muscles are strong, well – toned and healthy to sustain witnessing and evangelism in daily life long even after COH.
How can you do this?
The key is consistently training for the event while progressively building up key-blocks of evangelism health.
Training for the Evangelism Event includes:
- sending everyone for training
- challenging everyone to look outward
- encouraging everyone to prayer.
These are vitally important strategies to build up muscle for the event. I believe COH will provide a number of these much-needed opportunities for these in due course!
Complementing training for the event, building up key-blocks for Evangelism Health include:
- training & identifying the gaps of evangelism life-style of your members
- training Cell-Groups (CGs) to mobilize for outreach
- building up the resilience for sustained outreach lifestyle
- turning church-programs more newcomer-orientated.
Training for the event, as well as building up these health blocks will lend to a higher quotient of evangelism lifestyle for the long-term.
To benefit maximally, you should consider bringing these 2 approaches together in some way in the coming season as we prepare for COH in the coming year.
Helping with the “Gaps”
“If it is guaranteed that the first 3 persons you talk to will come to Christ, will you look for your loved ones to talk to immediately? I am sure the answer is a resounding YES!”
I submit to you that a low outreach-quotient today is not due to a lack of desire to share the gospel and win people, but rather due to a fear of rejection, a fear of not meeting the deep needs or speaking to the hearts of people they share with. If we want to help our people to sustain a natural, witnessing lifestyle, we need to identify their “gaps” and help fill it.
Some common gaps in our outreach lifestyles are:
1. HEART – our fear of rejection.
This needs to be addressed by understanding that the Holy Spirit is the initiator and our role is one of followership to God’s prompting. Our deep, heart-felt belief in this enables us to put our trust in following God’s leading.
2. SKILL – our lack of knowledge in leveraging our own God-given style.
Poor outreach quotient is sometimes exacerbated by being forced into styles of outreach which are unnatural to us.
I know someone who was petrified when asked to share the gospel on the street. He often panicked and felt so bad after such a session. Over time, he discovered what came more naturally to him: discussing questions about Christianity. He rejoiced in seeing salvations through his discussion-talks!
I believe God has given all of us an Outreach Style comprising of our: personal testimonies, the way we emphasize aspects of the gospel, the roles we prefer to play in an outreach event, the way we bring value-based conversations into our friendships.
When we discover and enhance them, we become a unique and Spirit-anointed witness, the way God meant for us to be!
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes to you. Then you will be my witnesses to testify about me in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8, GWT
I like the God’s Word Translation that emphasizes how we are witnesses to testify about Jesus. Our testimony about how Jesus ministers to our life-situations is personal and unique to us!
3. DISCERNMENT – our compassion for the needs in the lives of our pre-believing loved ones.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:36-38, NIV)
Compassion for needs was a powerful driving and sustaining force for evangelism in Jesus, and it is, too, for us. We need to teach our ministry members to discern how far / close to Christ their loved ones are on their journey, how to bring them along that journey, and what are the deep needs / blocks in their lives that our members can address. People don’t usually “jump” to Christ if they are a far-distance from salvation due to blocks in their hearts. We need to encourage our members to persevere in helping their loved ones move on the journey toward Christ and have compassion for their blocks / needs in their hearts.
Helping with Community
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:23-25, NIV)
Encouragement makes a significant difference in helping our ministry members sustain an outreach lifestyle. It can be discouraging when our loved ones don’t respond to or reject us when we reach out with the gospel.
We need the “spurring by others” not to give up, to keep hoping and praying for that breakthrough in our pre-believing loved ones!
For most churches and ministries, such a community is often found in the Cell-Group / Life-Group or equivalent. This is a precious community that is involved in each other’s lives. Such a community, when well mobilized, provides an accountability and encouragement for your ministry member to persevere in outreach.
Several things need to be in place to build the CG to be such a community:
- Reminding the group to pray with and for one another’s pre-believing loved ones.
- Equipping them to reach out to their CG networks by hosting CG-based events that engage the needs of the pre-believing loved ones.
- Positioning them to host and welcome member’s pre-believing loved ones when they visit the CG, the Weekend Service or special event.
Someone once said, “Revival is spelt W-O-R-K… work to reach out to win and disciple people!”
Sustaining the above can be a lot of work! This requires thought on how to mobilize a Core rather than just assume the CG leader can take all responsibility for it.
However, when the core and CG is mobilized, a significant core of the church is engaged in sustaining an outreaching lifestyle through encouragement and loving accountability!
It is frustrating to have shared the gospel or reached out to a friend, yet that pre-believing friend turns you down again and again. Ministering to that loved-one’s heart requires prayer as well as specialized giftedness that could speak into that need.
The pre-believing loved one may have blocks such as past bad experiences with religious people, family-marriage-parenting struggles, cognitive questions about God and suffering—a whole plethora of possible issues. The church needs to bring in specialized gifts to support the outreach efforts of our members.
About gifts nearer to home:
- Ministering songs and testimonies in Weekend services could engage some needs
- Relevant sermon topics or seeker sermons could engage some needs
- Talks on parenting-marriage could engage some needs
However, this requires the church and ministry programs to be generally oriented to inviting newcomers and hosting seekers. This requires an outward-orientation of the present existing platforms of the church.
About gifts farther from home, specialized resources could include:
- Inviting an apologetics expert to speak
- Bringing a person with great life-change and testimony
- Having great evangelists at the coming Celebration of Hope (May 2019)!
This requires planning for such events and helping members leverage them for reaching their pre-believing loved ones.
No matter how persevering our members are, the lack of experiencing a break-through in reaching their loved-one’s year on year will discourage them all the more as time goes by.
The church can help by bringing these specialized gifts in the hope of “changing the game” and giving a breakthrough in the outreach life of our members!
It gets discouraging and lonely when we face our pre-believing loved ones year after year with little result.
Yet, it is that same journey of believing, hoping and winning that truly captures God’s heart!
Your loved one may not be saved through today’s or this year’s outreach, but maybe next year… maybe the next outreach… maybe that next seasons is the one God would deem it the right time and prepare their hearts to receive Him.
We must not give up!
We need that support, to close the gap;
we need that community;
we need that specialized gift—that is the toned and trained muscle that sustains outreach through the ups and downs of a lifestyle of evangelism and witness.
So, how strong is your outreach-muscle?
Rev. Dr. Philip Huan, Principal Consultant Churchlife Resources
ChurchLife Resources offers:
- Training CG Core Teams in “Outreach & Hospitality”
- Training All Members in “I am a Witness”
- Equipping CG leaders to Recruit and Raise Core Teams
Together in tandem, they will go a long way in building up the long-term muscle of the church!
Contact admin@churchlife-resources to find out more.