The truth is that a vast majority of people these days are outside of a meaningful church connection and I don’t believe they are looking in the church's direction. So, that means we’ve got to look in their direction. Here are some tips toward “looking outward:”
Remember…remember their name!
I attended a week-long seminar about connecting with people. I thought I was a pretty good connector. Mid-way through the week, we formed a circle. I had no idea this was coming, but here’s what we had to do. Each of us had to go around the circle and say each person’s name that we could remember. If we couldn’t remember their name, we had to walk over to them, look them in the eye and say: “I didn’t care enough to know your name.” That had a huge impact on me as to how connected I am to the people around me. How much I pay attention. How much I care.
Do I notice the people God is putting in my path to connect with? Am I getting to know them? Am I really listening? Am I looking into their eyes and into the window of their soul? Did I care enough to remember their name?
If you feed them, they will come...
Ever thought about how many stories about Jesus involved food? The most noted miracle in the Gospels (other than the Resurrection itself) was when Jesus fed the 5,000. Jesus knew that if you feed them, they will come (actually, in this case, it was "they will stay.") When offering people spiritual food, it helps to entice them with physical food as well.
Every culture has rituals concerning gathering to eat. In most places, an invitation to eat is an invitation to friendship. To some, sharing a meal is synonymous with forging an unbreakable bond, as if the parties are making a covenant with each other. Eating can be serious business.
The early church knew this principle well and used it to spread the Gospel.
Acts 2:46-47 "So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved."
If you feed them, they will come...
- Consider having someone over to dinner and sharing with them how God found you.
- Invite a family to church this week and then take them out for Mexican food after service. (It's cheap, and you can explain the concept of Good-God/Bad-Devil while referring to satan as "El Diablo" the whole time. Tons of fun, there!)
- Arrange to meet an old classmate for coffee and a muffin at Starbucks, then tell them how Jesus has transformed your life since high school/college/driver's ed/your sentence ended, etc. (Side benefit: You'll impress them. They'll think you must be loaded if you're spending $4 on a cup of joe and $3 on a muffin. Wow!)
1. No matter how happy and confident they appear on the outside, deep inside they are empty and searching.
2. When they appear the most stubborn and hard towards your message, they are likely very close to breaking. Don't give up.
3. Their eyes can be opened to truth and the reality of God through your prayers.
4. Most of them already believe in God. They need someone to show them the next step.
5. They are caught better alone than in groups. Try to get with them one-on-one.
Excerpted from the book Reality Check by Blaine Bartel.
There are great resources that you should have in your tackle box to help you fish. One is an easily understandable translation of the Bible that you have handy at all times. Other tools you could use would be mini-books, invitation cards to special events, the Good News You Can Use handout, Bibles you can give away, Nate Barbour CDs and plenty of other items available in the Resource Center. Don’t go out fishin’ empty-handed. Launch out there this week equipped with the proper tools and see just how easy it can be to reel ‘em in!
People ARE ready! Some need for you to plant the incorruptible seed of the Word in the soil of their hearts. Many need for you to love and encourage them. But some others are ready to be saved and start working with God. They just don't know how! Don't assume that people know what you know, or that they are saved already. You'll know only by asking. Love them. Offer to pray with them or for them. Be ready all the time!
Jesus said, "Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matt 11:29-30)
Telling people about Jesus is easy. People are looking for the peace and rest that Jesus has given us, and sharing these things with others is in our nature to do. Just lay your burdens aside and set your eyes on others, and God will show you what to say and do.
How can you do that?
Pray. Open your heart to God in prayer. Let Him know that you are available to be used to reach others. Ask Him to direct you to those you can impact with the Good News.
Look. Lift up your eyes and see the people around you. Who is hurting? Who is searching? Who has suffered a loss? Who seems unfulfilled? Endeavor to see people with new eyes - with God's eyes - and to see those you have been overlooking.
Invite. Reaching out to others is as simple as asking someone to come to a service or event with you. Most people will eventually come - if you ask them.
Support. Get involved with the outreach events the church is doing during this campaign. Your help is needed in many areas so sign-up when your service is solicited. Support the outreaches financially. The Gospel is free, but it does cost money to pipe it to people.
Launch is part of fulfilling the vision of Good News Church:
We see a community of believers, strongly connected to God and to each other, empowered by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit to be able ministers, reaching their worlds and beyond with the Good News of Jesus Christ.