How to reach those ‘far from God’ but ‘near to us’

September 11, 2020

The missionary task propels the global church from everywhere to everywhere to share the gospel in the darkest corners of the world. That same gospel-driven intentionality leads local churches to be relevant in engaging the lost around them.

Our state is changing as long-term North Carolinians drift further from God while many who are far from God move here and live closer to us. With a bit of understanding fueled by love and compassion, we can learn to connect with the lost around us.

However, understanding people and overcoming barriers is not actually the first problem in evangelism. Most Christians simply don’t share the gospel. As hockey great Wayne Gretzky famously said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” But increasingly, more churches are taking a shot.

Don Evans, a lay leader at First Baptist Church of Shallotte, has a burden to challenge and lead other church members to engage their community. A fast-growing town near the coast, Shallotte has numerous retirees moving in from all over.

Evans leads a team of lay people who have gone through Gospel Conversations training and ongoing coaching from Josh Reed, senior consultant for Adult Evangelism and Discipleship at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. These lay people are learning to listen well as they welcome new neighbors to their community, offering to help them move in and get settled, handing out welcome kits and praying with them.

Pastor Bob Weathers has also cast a vision for the church to minister to a hurting community during the pandemic. Members have distributed many “Bags of Hope” to those in need in other communities of Shallotte, loving them and praying with them. Many members are understanding how God has uniquely equipped them with gifts, talents and personalities to engage others. They are growing in confidence to share the gospel, and learning to follow up to build relationships and continue sharing truth.

As we engage those around us, we see their brokenness and are moved by the compassion of Jesus for them. As we listen well to their stories, the Holy Spirit helps us share the story of redemption with love.

Steve King, associate pastor of Friendly Avenue Baptist Church in Greensboro, also emphasizes the importance of training church members to proclaim the truth. Rather than focusing on events and programs to draw the lost to the church, he is training church members to be Christ’s ambassadors in their own neighborhoods and circles of influence.

King encourages members to get to know their neighbors or coworkers, to listen for things that matter to them, to celebrate with them — like attending a child’s band concert with neighbor parents — and to bless and serve them. He also encourages efforts to engage Sudanese Muslims through English as a second language (ESL) classes and other ministries to demonstrate and proclaim the love of Christ.

King likens the church to an aircraft carrier in a strategic location, positioned for the gospel.

“We seek to train and mobilize our church members to see themselves dispersed for God’s purposes,” King said. “We also do events, but that’s not nearly as important or fruitful as being dispersed to spread the gospel.”

In our changing culture, many people are far from God. As we engage those around us, we see their brokenness and are moved by the compassion of Jesus for them. As we listen well to their stories, the Holy Spirit helps us share the story of redemption with love. God’s deep love for us fills our hearts and flows out through us onto those around us.

God alone is powerful enough to save them. This gives us confidence to expect fruit even among those who seem resistant and humbly keeps us on our knees to pray for the lost. It’s God’s job to save those far from Him, but it’s our job to share His truth with those He has brought near to us.

 by John Davenport  /  Strategic Focus Team  /  Baptist State Convention of North Carolina

EC hears recommendation for change to annual meeting date

Members of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSCNC) executive committee heard a recommendation for proposed changes to the dates of annual meetings in 2021, 2022 and 2023 during a regularly scheduled meeting held Tuesday, Jan. 26 via video conference call.  ...

9 ways to prepare families (and churches) to worship with children

As we slowly ease out of quarantine, many of us are excited to head back to our church campuses. While we have been grateful for online worship services, nothing can compare to worshipping together with our brothers and sisters. However, there will still be some restrictions and...

5 things churches should do differently in 2021

As I am writing this article, I was notified that my grandson, Joshua, had broken his ankle. My granddaughter, Collins, broke her arm this year. My son, Sam, broke his leg a month ago. And my wife, Nellie Jo, broke her wrist earlier this year.   That’s four different Rainer...

So you’re a follower of Jesus: ‘Now What?’

I vividly remember the season when I decided to give up running and join a gym. Up until then I had been an avid runner and enjoyed it. It was a great stress reliever for me, but I didn’t have much physical strength — I was weak and I wanted to change that.    I remember going to...

Finding God’s ‘shells of grace’ in our western culture

The 2016 Disney Pixar film “Finding Dory” details the life of a blue tang fish named Dory who deals with short-term memory loss. The animated movie explores complex issues such as mental health, the power of community, and the interplay between humans and wildlife.    One theme...

Considering a strategic vision for digital engagement

There is a difference between using something and leveraging something. You can use money to buy things you may or may not need. But that does not equate to leveraging it. Leveraging money as an investment could double or triple the initial investment. Using takes something at...

The beauty of adoption

Mom and dad never called me their adopted son. I was just their son. I was born into an unfortunate situation, but I was adopted into a blessed family. In 1966, adoption was not as highlighted in the American church as it is today. In the spring of 1998, I was a seminary student...

5 areas where pastors can grow in the new year

In the optometry profession, 20/20 means clarity or sharpness of vision.    For most people, the year 2020 was anything but clear. In fact, 2020 was as unclear as a year could be because of the repercussions of COVID-19, especially if you are leading in ministry as a pastor.   ...

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stay connected by signing up for the N.C. Baptist monthly newsletter.

Select Language ^

Share This

Share this with your friends!