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…

This Time We Live In

Apologetics is the study of how to defend the faith in the world in which you live. It does not mean apologizing for what you believe. Never do that. In fact, speak boldly about what you believe as you have been empowered to do so by the Holy Spirit and commanded to do so by Jesus. whom you follow. The Book of Jude states that we are to “earnestly content for the faith once delivered to the saints.” (Jude 3b) In a world that is often attacking the faith we hold to we need to be able to defend it as well as know how to share it with those who have never heard the good news that Jesus saves.

In the Book of Judges (2:10) it speaks of a time when “another generation grew up who knew nether the LORD nor what He had done.” This is increasingly the situation today. Many of the younger generations were raised without being taught the Bible, so they don’t understand God’s love and grace as seen in and found only through Jesus Christ.

A local public high school in America reported that in a class of 25 students, not a single student knew Jesus was associated with Easter Sunday. This emphasizes the urgent need to develop systematic teaching and reasonable responses to the questions that inevitable arise from a generation unfamiliar with the Bible’s story.

Increasingly our culture portrays Christianity as a religion of hate, ignorance, and intolerance. Because people don’t know the Bible’s story (even many Christians), different stories have emerged, sometimes portraying Christians as hateful, Jesus as just one more teacher among the many world’s religions and the God of the Bible as a jealous, violent deity. God is attributed with indiscriminately ordering genocide on entire people groups, endorsing slavery and demanding crude blood sacrifices. Neo-atheists and others take bits of the Bible out of context or use verses in isolation to portray God and Christians in these ways – and the Internet accelerates the spread of this alternate narrative to an ever-widening audience. Ironically, many of these arguments against God and faith are themselves based on Bible verses, making them doubly confusing.

To counter these caricatures, we must be proactive, using apologetics to teach what the Bible really does and does not say, and what Christians actually believe and why. This means you and your church need to seriously focus on the “apostles doctrines” as mentioned in Acts 2:42 so that we actually know what it is we believe and why we believe it. The time of second-hand faith (I believe because the priest tells me this is what I am to believe) has ended. Each and every one of us is responsible to know the faith and be able and ready to give a reason for the hope that we have and to defend the faith that we believe.

Last Day of Ministry in Ohio For this Trip

This morning I have been working on some material for a meeting I am to teach at tonight. It is now complete, I think. I will let it settle or gel for the next few hours and have one more look at it before the 7:00p meeting with a new leadership team being formed for Overcomers Christian Church in Mount Vernon. At noon today I am meeting with four leaders (2 married couples) from the same church to discuss the progress being made in things set in motion during my November visit to the church.

Mid-afternoon I will be working with The River Church in Butler meeting with a Children Church leaders for an hour before heading back to where I stay to pack so that I am ready for a 6:00a start on Friday. I head out on Friday – an hour’s drive to Columbus, Ohio, a 1.5 hour flight to Toronto, a wait, and then the 3.5 flight to Regina… home by early evening. It is always good to be heading home. Better to be at home.

I am looking forward to preaching on Sunday. I finished that teaching just yesterday and I believe I have the heart of God for both churches I work at this Sunday. Then life can return to normal for a while – whatever normal may be. Regular blogs will return Monday.

Thanks for reading these blogs over the past two weeks and for praying. It has been a seriously good trip – not without its bumps but good overall. Your prayers are much appreciated.

Wednesday and It Is Challenging

I am into a very challenging time. There were some decisions made on Tuesday morning that were then reversed late Tuesday night. I was involved in the planning and organizing in the morning and agreed to some things… by late evening text messages were indicating that some of those not involved in the morning session were not pleased with the decisions and had, in some way, managed to have them reversed. Today, therefore, will be even more challenging as I sort out these changes and, more importantly, the reasons for the reversal as well as the emotions behind it. Prayer needed.

Today I meet with some young men – they are helping to build a church called The Upper Room. Great young men. Then I am having a lunch meeting with several pastors from The Marion Center in Marion, Ohio. One I have met with before the other I have not. Following that – time to sort through what changed late last night with the person who initiated the change and let me know by text late last night. Then, a supper meeting with two pastoral couples before heading home. It needs to be an early night back to where I stay as I have preparation work to complete for some events I am involved in on Thursday. Your prayers for all of these meetings would be greatly appreciated.

This trip is quickly winding down… two more full days and then a day to travel home (Friday). It has been a good trip but a challenging one. I have grown some, learned a lot, and given a lot. Can’t ask for more, I guess.

I personally appreciate all your prayers and support. This trip and what has been accomplished would not have been possible without your prayers.

Monday-Tuesday in Ohio

Time flies when you are ministering daily. In fact, you wake up and have to quickly sort out what city you are in and what day it is. It is Monday and I am near the city of Mount Vernon. I am spending the day with Jamie and Ruth Overholt discussing their church in Mt. Vernon called Overcomers Christian Church and their ministry there. I mentor them and they have a church that is undergoing a serious transformation. So, lots to do and discuss in the next four days before flying home to Canada.

During this shorter week I will also be meeting with the pastor of The Upper Room where I have ministered a number of times. And meeting with several other pastors I have not met yet but who have heard of my ministry and want to meet to begin a relationship and then see about future ministry opportunities. Never dull to say the least.

It is now Wednesday lunch – yesterday flashed by and now it is Tuesday. Just finished a three hour meeting with a senior pastor and his wife. Now meeting with the assistant or associate pastor of the same church at a small coffee shop on Main Street in Bellville. Afternoon with him. Then supper with another pastor and then back for a planning meeting with my mentor regarding a meeting we are running jointly on Thursday night. The week continues to fill up.

Thanks for praying. I really appreciate the support and encouragement.

Second Sunday in Ohio

This morning I am on my way to the city of Orrville, Ohio and the church called New Hope. This is my second visit to this great church and I am looking forward to renewing friendships and worshiping with them this morning. It is an hour from where I live. Then a lunch with some of the leaders.

The drive back is a different route taking me to the city of Marion, Ohio. I will be dropped off by my ride on the side of the highway and picked up by my second host for the day. I will be meeting with the 17 leaders from Alex Church in Marion. Yesterday I spent the afternoon with the two main leaders of Apex and answered a lot of questions. They then came on Saturday night to the service in The Upper Room, learned more and actually helped me as team members on the prophetic team. After the leaders meeting this afternoon I will then have supper with the lead pastor and his family before heading back to where I am staying.

Please pray for New Hope in Orrville and Apex in Marion and my time with both the people and the leaders. Your prayers are a great encouragement to me and God is faithfully answering your prayers as I move in and out of various ministry opportunities every day. Pray, as well, for Overcomers Church as I start work with them on Monday…

Modern Technology

Jesus said, “Go into all the world” and we can now do some of that via modern technology. Today I have connected with the nations of Armenia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkey, and Canada all while in rural Ohio in the United States. Some of my time has been spent planning and organizing; some has been keeping in touch and encouraging new believers; some has been mentoring people with a call to be an apostle. It is simple, quick, and convenient.

Of course, this does not stop us from actually physically “going into all the world.” I did venture forth and speak with several about Jesus while buying a new supply of Coke Zero at the local Shell station, looking at some new technology in a Verizon Store, and while purchasing coffee at the local coffee bar in the small town I am staying in. Even while doing this I was able to use a Gospel sharing App that works on a smart phone to show people what Jesus’ death and resurrection accomplished for those who come to believe.

With emails, text messaging, Skype, FaceTime, smart phones and the many other ways to connect we can have instant and constant with those we are working to influence and win to the Lord. We can stay in touch with the people we are ministering to as believers. We can stay connected to our leadership teams. We can disciple and mentor others. We can share information and help to move people forward in their walk with the Lord. All without leaving home.

Last night I picked up a note pad page from a local high school here in Ohio. The slogan for the school:
“Expect Greatness, Demand Resuts… No shame, No blame, No excuses.

I believe that just might be a comment that Jesus would make to us today if we are not going into all the world.