EDITOR’S NOTE: “Love Your Neighbor/Share Christ” evangelism strategy is written and designed to assist you as a church leader in developing a contextualized strategy to carry out significant parts of the Great Commission, with a focus toward the evangelism part of it. The strategy employs six expressions, which are detailed in separate posts.
By Will McRaney, BCM/D Executive Missional Strategist
The fourth expression of evangelism is the most overlooked part of the evangelism process for most churches, friendly up the church. While the word friendly is used, the expression deals with providing relational credibility for the Gospel both with internal relationships and external relationships.
In evangelism, three parts are tied together, the message, the messenger and the method.
[boxify cols_use =”2″ cols =”4″ position =”right” box_spacing =”10″ padding =”10″ background_color =”#EBF0F5″ border_width =”3″ border_color =”#336699″ border_style =”solid” ]GOALS/TARGETS:
1 Help guest have a safe and welcoming place(s) to hear, see and consider the claims of Christ on their lives.
2 Develop relational credibility.
3 Remove relational sin barriers.
4 Remove unnecessary barriers for guests to hear and understand and receive the Gospel. Barriers such as – unknown words, length of service, unsightly facilities, room temperature, culturally inappropriate greetings.
John 13:35, Acts 2:47, Acts 5:13,
1 Corinthians 14:23-25, Romans 12:13
• Preach on clearing up relationships and the importance of the body of Christ.
• Preach sermons on the testimony of the church.
• Invite people to write down offenses against them and to forgive (then destroy the paper).
• Invite people to go to a brother or sister in Christ and ask forgiveness if there is sin in the relationship.
• Use the Sunday school time to talk about the importance of relationships and how the church can experience the blessing of God or He can withhold it if there is strife among the members.
• Preach on conflict as a tool and strategy of Satan.
• Freshen up the appearance outside and inside facilities (particular attention to the children’s areas and the bathrooms).
• Match the style of music to the people you are trying to reach (terms used, rhythms, words, length and volume).
• Use cultural sensitivities in greeting (parking lot, entering building, directional signs, welcoming guests in worship service and manner of follow-up).
• Use language in sermons that unchurched understand or explain it and preach with few assumptions as to what people know (Don’t say, “Today we are in a familiar passage that everyone knows”).
• Use cultural sensitivities related to length of service, time start, dress norms and use of insider announcements.
• Tell guests you are pleased to have them and that they are welcome, planned for, and that your church is a safe place to hear and consider the claims of Christ.[/boxify]
We recognize the credibility and truthfulness of the message is ultimately dependent upon the faithfulness of God. However, from the eyes of the lost person, he is seeing the message, the messenger and the method all at the same time as he or she considers the realness of the message. Therefore, how we relate to one another inside the church matters, and how we host lost people while they are with us also really matters.
Let’s briefly explore these two facets of friendly up the church:
First, lost people are typically taking longer to make a decision on whether or not to give their lives to Christ. Part of what they are doing during this time is determining if Christianity just a bunch of religious stuff, sermons, nice ideas and the like, or are the people communicating this to me really living differently, especially in how they relate to one another.
Secondly, where God determines to birth new spiritual babes could be being influenced by how the Christians in the church are relating to one another. Even adoption agencies consider the home life before placing a child. So, we need relational credibility and a good corporate testimony as a part of our evangelism process, lest we short-circuit it by people holding onto pet conflicts and broken relationships.
The second facet of this expression involves hosting guests as well as possible. This act of love helps give them the best opportunity to hear the Gospel without unnecessary distractions.
In the gatherings of the church where lost people might be present, we want to communicate that we expected them to come by how well we prepared to host them in a culturally appropriate manner. So, as we plan and evaluate our gatherings, we want to eliminate distractions and increase the sense to lost people that they are in a safe environment to consider the claims of Christ on their lives.
Church coffee/donut hour builds community
After each service, First Baptist Church in Crofton, Md., offers a coffee/donut hour, which has been highly successful for building community within the church. Even guests have commented on this intentional time of fellowship. “We often have to run people out so we can start our next service,” shared Bob Parsley, senior pastor.
Parsley said his church also has been intentional on sharing their building with other community groups, such as the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. “This helps take away the fear of being in a church building,” he explained, describing this as a first necessary step for some to come back for church.
You will find additional information on our website, www.bcmd.org/loveyourneighbor. Tools will be there for your use in each area of the Expressions in various forms such as print, web, and video. You will find sermon starters, Sunday School lessons, and much more.