What if your entire church membership engaged your community strategically to make the name of Jesus famous? If your church is like ours, it’s as if the community is going one direction at a fast pace and your members are going a different direction.
Some estimate that as many as 50% or more of Americans simply will not attend a religious service, no matter who invites them. If our only outreach is inviting those far from God to evangelistic services or events, then how will those “uninvitables” ever have a chance to hear and respond to the gospel? We must provide on-ramps to mobilize our entire membership to engage the community with gospel intentionality.
That process begins by helping members understand their dual identity as “new creations in Christ” and “ambassadors for Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-21) Once they understand that all who are in Christ have been entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation, we must find new ways to equip them to grow in their competence and confidence to live on mission in the broader community. To accomplish this, we have created on-ramps to help our members broaden their circles of influence and deepen their relationships with people who are far from God.
On-ramps begin with prayer and engagement in respective circles of influence. Challenge your entire membership to pray, care for and share the gospel with those they already know.
Identifying a circle of influence is as easy as thinking through the relationships one has where they live, work and play (leisure time activities).
Mobilize your membership to participate in events that are already taking place outside of the church in order to establish a strategic presence in your community. We call this our community rhythms team.
There are needs within your community that your members are poised to uniquely help meet. Mobilize your church members to leverage their relationships, giftings and passions to help meet these community needs in a strategic way.
Most churches have some members who are gifted in evangelism. Recruit, encourage and release them to form evangelism teams that engage homes with the gospel via door-to-door evangelism and establishing discovery Bible studies in homes of people who are far from God. Participation in these outreach opportunities is not just for those already identified as gifted in evangelism. This provides an opportunity for any of your members to get hands-on training in how to transition conversations to the gospel.
Every Sunday our church welcome team registers guests who choose to attend our service and share their personal information with us. Form a guest follow-up team to write cards and make personal visits. Follow-up visits provide a personal and intentional touch and may also afford opportunities to conversationally share the gospel by discussing the message they heard.
The purpose of each of these on-ramps is to help organize the membership of your church in such a way that recognizes various giftings and callings, yet challenges them to utilize all that God has gifted them with in order to expand their circles of influence and live on mission with intentionality until there’s no place left in your community that doesn’t have a gospel presence. We are challenging our membership to own their identity as ambassadors for Christ among their respective circles of influence. Then, we’re challenging them to pick one more on-ramp in which to participate this year to help them expand their circle of influence with gospel intentionality. Whatever your strategy, get your church into your community and among lostness. Without doing that, how will they hear?
by George Robinson / Associate Professor of Evangelism / Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
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