But when some were hardened and did not believe, but spoke evil of the Way before the multitude, he departed from them and withdrew the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus [Ac. 19:9].
If you are going to reach the lost in your community you need to engage people with the gospel.
Paul began his efforts to reach the lost of Ephesus primarily at the synagogue. After three months the Jews who rejected the gospel prevented Paul from proclaiming the message at the synagogue. Paul then moved his ministry hub to the school of Tyrannus. The school was typically a place where Gentiles were educated and trained. In the culture of Ephesus, many businesses closed for several hours during the hottest part of the day. Paul leveraged the availability of the hall during those hours to meet with and train disciples, and reach curious seekers with the gospel. The school would have been more accessible to Gentile seekers than the synagogue. In effect, Paul engaged the community and created a means to effectively reach the lost and make disciples.
Paul engaged the community and created a means to effectively reach the lost and make disciples.
Where and how do you engage curious seekers with the gospel?
Leaders need to engage the lost. Seems simple and intuitive enough, but it is often neglected by Christians. Research published by the Barna Group in December 2013 revealed that only 52% actually shared their faith in the preceding year. Ironically, one of the tenets of the evangelical is the responsibility to share the gospel. Unfortunately, many people in the local church who have the term “leader” associated with their role don’t share their faith. Effective church leaders create a culture where Christians engage the lost.
Effective church leaders create a culture where Christians engage the lost.
They model the behavior by actually doing it and sharing their experiences with others. Finally, they develop others to share their faith and create meaningful accountability especially among other leaders to share the gospel.
Finally, they develop others to share their faith and create meaningful accountability especially among other leaders to share the gospel.
Church planters, pastors, and Christian leaders generally need to discover where they are most effective at reaching the lost (as well as making disciples and developing leaders). Generally, outreach and evangelism tend to logically be limited to about 5 generally described areas:
1. Relational Evangelism: Get to know your barista, neighbor, co-worker, fellow soccer parents, and others in “your community” and engage them in life. Develop meaningful relationships and then share the gospel as God opens the doors.
2. Service Evangelism: Create service projects that provide opportunities to share the gospel as you minister to the needs of the community.
3. Large-scale Events: This includes concerts, conferences, and worship services in public spaces.
4. Community Groups: Small groups become the front door to the church community. People come to the group, get saved, and later to the church building for the weekend services.
5. The Weekend Gathering: The “attractive church” model where seekers are invited and come to the gathering, and hear and receive the gospel.
Certainly churches do all of these to some extent. I encourage pastors and their core team to rank 1-5 the order where they believe that they are most effective. Ideally there is consensus, or through discussion an easy consensus can be established. I encourage you to leverage where you are most effective at reaching the lost and stop activities that are not effective. For example, a church that hosts a large Halloween Alternative and sees many volunteers mobilized and multitudes of guests may consider the event successful. However if there was no meaningful way to share the gospel and none of the guests returned to the church, I would not consider it a success. Furthermore, I would suggest they stop doing the activity unless they can resolve those hurdles.
Finally, print attractive invitations for as many of the above-described activities as possible. Make sure the graphic quality is excellent, and the church service times, location, phone, and website are included along with all relevant event information. Print sufficient quantities so that every person in the church community receives several to distribute. Encourage people to pray for God to open doors and direct the distribution. Then engage people with the gospel and share the stories of the experience.
- Where and how do you engage curious seekers with the gospel?
- Where are you most effective at reaching the lost?
- Where is your local church most effective at reaching the lost?