The Fifth Step Of Effective Outreach

We have been looking at reaching out to others as a way of life. Jesus called us to “be” a witness for Him and not just to “do” witnessing. So, our lifestyle, our words, our attitude, our actions must all reflect Him and help others to know the love of God as found only in Christ Jesus.

I took the liberty of using the word ‘faith’ and letting each letter stand for a comment about effective outreach. So far we have seen:
F = Find someone to talk to. God is giving you opportuneness daily to touch lives with His love
A = Assume that they like you. To do this you must first like you and then give others opportunity to come to know and like you
I = Initiate conversation freely, frequently, and naturally. Be authentic – people can quickly spot a phoney T = stands for “transition the talk to Jesus.”

The “H” is that we need to “Honour the soul you desire to reach.” We need to recognize that we are not out selling Jesus to potential customers who may or may not want to purchase Him. We are not trying to build a networking scheme or collecting notches on our Gospel gun. We are out to rescue souls and lives that are made in God’s image but that are lost, alone, and without God in the world. It is about placing a high value on the price that Christ paid to win the lost and realize that there must be something so valuable to God about each soul we seek to reach.

Regardless of how riddled with sin, struggle or dysfunction a person may be, we seek to redeem and honour the soul God has called us to reach. The best way to “honour” someone is to share with them the way, the truth and the life Jesus offers. Compassionate conversations, of course, help us to do just this.

So, the question is: When the opportunity to be a witness comes your way, will you be ready to respond to it in FAITH?

The Fourth Step Of Effective Outreach

We are looking at one way of reaching out effectively to those who are close to us – family, friends, work associates. We have been looking at the word ‘faith’ using the letters to head up our outline for this short series of teaching blogs.
F = Find someone to talk to. God is giving you opportuneness daily to touch lives with His love
A = Assume that they like you. To do this you must first like you and then give others opportunity to come to know and like you
I = Initiate conversation freely, frequently, and naturally. Be authentic – people can quickly spot a phoney

The “T” in the word ‘faith’ stands for “transition the talk to Jesus.” I had a mentor for many years who taught me how to do this. He also said that if you have not done this in the first 20 minutes of a conversation you won’t manage to do it no matter how long you continue to talk with the person. I have found this to be true now over many, many years.

To move the conversation towards Jesus you need to realize that outreach is not an argument, it is a conversation that always ends in an invitation. In sharing our faith it is important to remember that we are called to be witnesses, not prosecuting attorneys. We are witnesses to what Jesus has done for us and what He has done for the whole world through His birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension. Sharing Jesus with people involves sharing His grace and truth with them. Compassionate conversation often creates a place where people del free to share their challenges, their struggles, and their needs. These become opportunities not only to share Christ, but to practice His ways of love, concern, and healing in serving.

This step means we are focusing on Jesus as He is the only genuine focus of Christian outreach. We are simply witnesses to Him and to what He has done for us and for the whole world. The most essential part of that kind of conversation is not found in your eloquence, but rather in our sincerity and passion.

Of course, you will need to be able to present the Gospel of the Kingdom in a number of ways. Then you have more than one canned or packaged method of sharing the good news. I learned a new one (I have over 20 ways to present the Gospel) the other day. Let me share it (it is not mine originally but I am adopting it)…
Jesus says:
I’m going to leave my place
I’m going to come to your place
I’m going to take your place
And then we are going to go back to my place!

Tht’s great isn’t it. It is so simple and easy to remember. It is clear and avoids all the religious Christianese we often use to explain the good news. You can use it with any person regardless of their age. I have found that the simplest ways of sharing Christ are always the best way. An entire conversation about the gospel can be wrapped around those four simple statements.

The Third Step Of Effective Outreach

We are looking at the word “faith” and examining the five basic steps to effective outreach so we can better tell others about Jesus and His offer of salvation and new life. We have looked at the first two letters:
“F” stands for Find someone to talk to – watch for opportunities the Lord is giving to you
“A” stands for Assume they like you – we are called to love our neighbours as we love ourselves

Today – Let’s look at the “I” in the word ‘faith.’ The “I” stands for Initiate conversations freely, frequently and naturally.

People today are good at sniffing out times when they are being played or manipulated. They want things to be natural and authentic – including relationships and conversations. Authenticity in our outreach conversations is perceived by others through our genuine compassion drawn from the example of Jesus.

So, to engage someone in a conversation about Jesus we need to really care about the person and not just see them as a target for your gospel presentation. You need to genuinely care for them because God does. Once people know you care, the best tool I know for initiating conversations is asking powerful and sincere questions. A few weeks back I was out with a small group of young high school teens and I asked one of them what he thought happened after death – and what would happen to him after he died. I sincerely wanted to know. And, he openly shared his thoughts and beliefs even though it was the first conversation we had ever had.

Jesus used questions all the time – no less than 12 times in the Sermon on the Mount alone. The questions we use with others communicate the level of interest we have in them. And one of the things many people find quite irresistible is genuine interest. Dale Carnegie once said, “You’ll gain more friends in three minutes by getting interested in others than you will in three years of trying to get them interested in you. In order to be interesting, you must be interested.” The apostle Paul said something similar when he told the Philippian Christians to “put the interest of others before your own interests.” (Philippians 2:4).

The truth is that while a good question can open a conversation, a great question can open a soul. Effective outreach flows best from the lives and voices of those who are genuinely interested in others, from those who care the most.

So, be sincerely interested in others and initiate conversations freely, frequently and naturally.

The Second Step Of Effective Outreach

We looked at the “F” in the word “faith” as we began our journey into becoming effective as living witnesses for Jesus. Witnessing is more than living a life that Jesus would be proud of. It always involves more than lifestyle – it must involve vocalizing the Gospel so that people hear the Gospel of the Kingdom.

We saw that the “F” stands for ‘find someone’ and we do this on a daily basis and intentionally. I missed an opportunity early yesterday morning when taking my car in for servicing. I needed a ride back to my office and so asked for one. The man behind the counter asked, “Where are you going?” and I told him where my office was. Instead, I should have said, “I’m heading for Heaven in the long term, but today I need to get to my office….” Never mind, tomorrow is another day.

The “A” in ‘faith’ stands for – ASSUME THEY LIKE YOU.

This is often the most difficult hurdle to overcome. However, the Bible states in the Great Commandment that we “are to love your neighbour as you love yourself.” So, if you don’t like and actually love yourself you will never believe or imagine that others could like you. Thus you are immediately defeated. If you can actually like who you are and believe that you are likeable (at least on your good days) then you can overcome the fear, hesitation, and reluctance about engaging people in a conversation about the Lord that often prevents us from opening our mouth.

Charles Stanley, a Baptist pastor, states, “In order to win people to Christ, you need to know how to win them to yourself.”

This step is really believing in the possibilities of actually reaching out and winning someone to the Lord. Too often we do just the opposite, don’t we? We doubt ourselves and question whether people will be open to us and to what we have to ask and say. Isn’t it better to assume that people will actually like you? Get that thought worked into your mind and keep it there. Give people around you the chance to know and engage you in conversation and friendship. This will require that you be real and authentic.

Church Swindoll puts it this way” “Know who you are. Like who you are. Be who you are!”

Remember, witnessing is not just something that you do – rather, a witness is someone you have become. It is a part of your identity.

The First Step of Effective Outreach

To reach out effectively today we need to remember five things. They can be formed into an acrostic for the word “faith” with each point beginning with the letters in the word. This is good because it reminds us that to be an effective witness we need to step out in faith and simply obey the command of the Lord Jesus to “go into all the world and make disciples…”

The “F” stands for – FIND SOMEONE

The first step of effective outreach, both personally and as a church community, is about seeing the opportunities of outreach all around us. We simply need to find someone in our lives to engage in conversation each and every day. This conversation should be about Christ. To do this we need to slow down our pace and make the time to see the opportunities that the Lord is giving to us and that the Holy Spirit has prepared for us.

As we slow our busy schedules and minds enough to see – really see – the people God has placed around us, we soon find that there are so many of them: people at work, people at school, at stores where we shop, in our families, in our neighbourhoods and so many other places – people who need Jesus. But for God to notice people, the people of God may simply need to notice them. Developing this kind of compassionate eye-sight that Jesus had involves praying for these people and asking God to open our eyes and hearts more fully to their needs.

Remember: Talk to God about them before you talk to them about God.

Remember: They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Effective outreach always starts with slowing down and seeing the people around us who need to be reached for Christ. Then our prayers and our faith have a focus. Each day find that certain someone who you can share the love of God with. They are there waiting for you.

Looking for Opportunities

My daily routine involves looking for and even making opportunities to share about Jesus. I really don’t care if people think I am a bit strange or different; I do care if they go to heaven or not. I believe that God has arranged opportunities for me to talk to others about His Son and our salvation through Him. My understanding is that I am to be looking for these open doors to witness and share. And, that when I find one I must be bold and share the Gospel of the Kingdom. So, God offers me opportunities each day as I “go into all my world…” and I simply need to be sensitive to these many opportunities and take the time to share.

To find the opportunity or the person He is wanting me to share with often means me asking a question or making a comment. It like turning the door knob on a closed door to see if the door is locked or open. Last week while travelling to minister a waitress asked what she could do for me. My answer, “Other than making sure every person on the planet hears that Jesus is the only way to Heaven, you could take our order.” Another time I was with two young church leaders and the guy at the door asked how many were with me so he would know the size of our party. I answer, “Three, and we are the best looking customers you will see today.” Both times I was able to engage these people in a meaningful conversation. In one restaurant which I was in numerous times over the two weeks I was ministering in the area I had the same waitress four or five times. We actually were able to build a decent rapport and I was able to share the meaning of the Gospel with her.

So, I simply step out in faith each day believing that the Lord has divine appointments and opportunities for me to share with people. Because who I am to share with is not always obvious, I simply begin friendly conversations and watch for that divine spark that will ignite the normal and open the supernatural for me. Effective outreach always require FAITH. It always has and it always will. It may not come naturally to us, but with the supernatural help of the Holy Spirit it can become a more “natural” part of our lives. But, we need to step out in faith believing that we will find someone to share with each day because we are “ambassadors of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

There is a set of guiding principles that I work by. These are simply concepts that I have pulled together both from my personal experience as well as from the many books and articles that I have read over the years. I recently taught them as part of a Sunday sermon and thought that it might be beneficial to share them here in my blogs. So, in the next five days I will outline the five principles that guide my daily evangelistic efforts and the adventure that I look forward to every time I leave home – either to run a personal message including the regular activities of life (food shopping, a trip to Walmart, etc) or to minister (such as appointments, travelling to other cities and countries, meeting with leaders).

Witnessing is not something we “do.” It is something we are. Jesus said, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will BE My witnesses…” (Acts 1:8) So, we are the witness – and everything we do in our daily lives should give others the opportunity to “see Jesus” (John 12:21). So, five guiding principles that help me to BE a witness…

Evangelism Now – Part Six

As we draw the week and this brief look at evangelism to a close remember that we are not responsible to bring people to Christ. That is the work of the Holy Spirit who will convict them of their sin and draw them to the foot of the cross of Christ. Our work is to take Christ to them. We are to allow the life of Christ that is within us to impact others where we live, work and play.

John 1:4 states about Jesus: “In Him was life and the life was the light of men.” What drew people to Jesus was the life of God in Him. He was alive spiritually and this made such a difference in His life and in the way He related that people were drawn to Him. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:14 that we are the light of the world. But really, it is the life of Christ living in us that is the light. And as we release His life in us and it flows from us it will impact the world around us. This is why Paul wrote, “It is not I who lives but Christ who lives in me.”

We have this intimate relationship with Jesus. When we were born again the Holy Spirit came to live in our spirit and enables us to relate to the living Jesus Christ. John 17:3 defines eternal life as a relationship with the living God through Jesus Christ. This is a gift that we received when we were born again and saved from our sins (Romans 6:23). However, this intimacy is not just about “you and Jesus.” Intimacy without impact and influence is simply nothing more than self-centered religion and narcissism at best. The intimacy we have with God through Jesus’ death and resurrection must influence others around us and eventually impact the world. Intimacy – Influence – Impact. This is evangelism at its best – rooted in your personal relationship with Jesus.

This s not an option for those who claim to love Jesus. Jesus said, “if you live Me, then you will obey Me.” He also said, “go into all the world and make disciples.” If we are not “going” then we are not obeying Him; and thus we really do not love Him. If we are not soul winning then we are not even following Jesus. Jesus said, “Follow Me and I wil make you fishers of men.” If we are not fishing, then we are not following. It is simple truth – but truth we often don’t want to face. It is time to step out of religion and enter into the true Christian faith – to stop looking at the benefits and start asking about the responsibilities…

Just a thought….

Evangelism Now – Part Five

To fully proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom we need to be moving in the power of God. Paul, speaking of his ministry for The Lord, writes: “For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience – by Word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God – so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fully preached the Gospel” (Romans 15:18-19)

In the age we now live in it is not enough to simply speak the Gospel – we need to demonstrate it (1 Corinthians 2:1-5). For people to have a true encounter with the living God they need to hear and see the Gospel. Then we will have touched their head and their heart – resulting in transformation of a life and not just the imparting of more information. Heart not just head; transformation and not just information. Then we will have, like Paul, fully proclaimed the Gospel.

For this to become a reality in the life of willing disciples the Church will need to change the way we see Sundays. We need to design Sundays as a time to train and equip the saints of the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-15). Sundays need to be viewed as a time to teach the people how to effectively reach out to touch the hearts of the lost that they come into contact with where the live, work and play. And, to do so supernaturally, flowing in the gifts of the Holy Spirit as found in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11.

This is not an option – this is basic Christianity. All born again believers need to be baptized in the Holy Spirit so that they walk in power and can be true witnesses to the resurrected and living Jesus Christ. Jesus said this power is released in our lives when the Holy Spirit comes upon us (Acts 1:8) and we have this second encounter with the living God. It is essential and not optional. It is part of the full Gospel and it is time for the Church to recognize this truth and receive what The Lord supplied that enables us to supernaturally “fully proclaim the Gospel.”

This power and the supernatural gifts is what will make us effective in witnessing for Jesus and sharing the Gospel in the culture and the day and age we now live in. Walking in His power and flowing in the gifts must become a part of every day life…

Evangelism Now – Part Four

As we have seen – the Church will need to change the way we have been looking at evangelism and fullfilling the Great Commission if we hope to take the Gospel of the Kingdom to every nation and people group in the world. We have looked at the need:
1> For a clear understanding of the Gospel and how to express it today
2> A stronger focus on disciplship as we are called to “make disciples”
3> A greater passion for missions which requires a fresh understanding of the priesthood of all believers
4> How to evangelize in a post-Christian society or in the age of the “nones.”
5> A fresh understanding of being incarnational communities where we live – and so attractional and missional at the same time

Today, a simply turth to understand but ofen one that is difficult to implement. We need new thinking in developing fresh ideas that help us to reach out and effectively take the Gospel of the Kingdom to the people who need to hear it. God often uses tools to accomplish His work. The bus ministry that was big in the 1970’s; radio ministry in the 1950’s; Today, these and other ways of reaching people are no longer effective.

As believers, we can and must be good stewards of our ministry and the call on each of us lives to reach the lost. We need to seek The Lord and hear from Him what tools He would have us use today in our part of the Kingdom. For some it may involve multisite churches, viral church planting, and finding new ways to reach those who are lost. God has a way specifically designed for you…

As the Church continues to navigate an increasingly post-Christian culture, we have to ask ourselves if we are willing to face some truths and change some behaviours to reach the world with the message of the Gospel. We want to be a part of what His team is doing before His return.

More next time….

Evangelism Now – Part Three

As we continue our current series…

4> Evangelism in the age of the “nones.”

One of the major changes we are already facing is reaching out to those who are part of the group called the “nones.” This is a fast growing segment of the population who have absolutely no “Christian consciousness” whatsoever. They do not own a Bible, have never read a Bible, do not go to Church and literally have no reference point from which to consider the message of the Kingdom that the Church is to spread worldwide.

So, we need to learn how to present the Gospel in ways that does not use religious terms or rely on religious (Christian) imagery. We need to do away with Christianese and learn to present the Gospel in the language of the people who belong to this segment of the population called the “Nones.” This is not as easy as it sounds. We are so use to talking to ourselves and using words and phrases that we all understand – that to switch and speak the same message to those who do not have a Christian upbringing or Church perspective becomes an adventure with a steep learning curve. But it is doable with focus and hard work.

5> Attractional and Incarnational

The day and age when we invited non-believers to attend a Sunday service where we then expected them to stand and worship a God they did not know and listen to a teaching from a book they did not believe in are long gone. Churches that once focused their energies and efforts towards attracting people to the Sunday service where the pastor or other leader would present the message and give an opportunity to respond will need to change their approach to spreading the Gospel. The days of simply relying only on “attractional evangelism” are long gone. People simply don’t want to wake up on Sunday morning and go to church simply because someone invited them.

This attractional method of evangelism still works, at times, if you invite an unsaved friend or neighbour to a small group where they can get to know others in a comfortable setting – such as the home of a friend or co-worker. Churches need to find new ways to train and equip their people to reach out to their neighbours. Jesus told us to “go;” He did not say to “invite.” So, we are to go and reach out in the regular routines of daily life. This is called incarnational evangelism… living out the Gospel or good news where you live, work, and play. This is the believer being, doing, and telling the good news of the Kingdom in their daily lives as they go about their normal routine.

Attractional evangelism needs to continue but we will need to add to this incarnational evangelism. This switch from attracting seekers to living the Gospel out in plain sight among the “Nones” will require some rethinking of what we do and how we do it. Time to train and equip the saints to do the work of the ministry in the new world we are now facing.