Archive for Evangelism

Making Visitation Work

By Rev. Rick Robinson


Mark 16:15
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.

IS IT WORTH IT?

How effective is home visitation? Some say visitation is not effective in the modern church culture. Try explaining that to the cult members who are growing by proselytizing 70 to 80 percent of their membership out of our churches. Only 3 out of 10 Protestant churches have an organized visitation program and most of those have their sights on the church visitor. Churches with effective outreach should be touching the lives in five people groups. These include members, guest, the hospitalized, the homebound, and the unchurched. Each one of these people groups will require a different strategy, and you may have people with a passion for each one of those categories to help. If not, get organized, God will send them.

So how effective is home visitation? The most influential component of your church growth mix is the friendship factor. The effectiveness of visitation is cut in half when a paid staff member does it, because the perception is the staff is being paid to make visits. When ordinary members of the church make those visits, it is an act of wanting to be friends. When we look at the growth mix of your church, we use church growth ratios to determine the strengths and weaknesses you have. We can determine how your assimilation strategy is working by looking at the visitor retention ratios. Ratios from first time visitors are as follows:

  • Declining churches will see 12% or less of their first time guest join the church.
  • Slightly growing churches may see around 16% of first time guest join the church.
  • Growing, healthy churches will see 25% or more of their guest join the church.

If your strategy for growth includes only visitation, you have no strategy. Effective assimilation will require a detailed follow-up strategy, and until you are retaining at least one out of four first time visitors, it is not working. We can help you with assimilating your guest, but this lesson is going to help you get your visitation started, or organized first. You will see how it all comes together.

GETTING STARTED

Mark 7:6
Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two …

Let’s begin here with the visitation team itself. Some Christians prefer visiting alone. This can limit your opportunity for ministry and invite a potential uncomfortable situation under certain circumstances. Having a second person on the team has advantages. Each will have different gifts and perspectives that will make a successful team. This will also increase the safety of the visit. A husband and wife team would be ideal. I do not believe a man and woman should visit alone on the team when they are married, but not to each other. The next logical choice would be a third person team. As with the two-person ministry team, there will be more opportunity for witness and ministry with the variety of gifts, testimonies, and perspectives. There is not a right or wrong number of people to use on the team for basic visitation purposes. There is a common sense number, don’t storm the house with a bus load of people.

RECRUITING WOKERS

Luke 10:2
He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.

When we do the Thoughts & Perceptions surveys in a church, it always reveals there are people who are willing to be trained in outreach. Most churches already have people that are ready and willing to work in outreach ministry. Pray for God to guide you as you begin this ministry in your church. I would encourage you to start by building a leadership base that you personally recruit, one on one. These are the people you can trust, that love the church, and love you. Make sure outreach is kept in the forefront of the church. Utilize the free help that is available to you in our library at MyChurchGrowth.com as a guideline. As your ministry grows, God will continue to supply the workers you need.

WE DON’T HAVE ANY PROSPECTS

John 4:35
Do you not say, „Four months more and then the harvest‟? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.

Unless you got this message out of a bottle that floated up on the deserted island you live on, you have plenty of prospects. Let’s take a look at where we can go visiting. Any evangelism or outreach ministry will be more effective with understanding the fields to be harvested. We must develop meaningful relationships through meeting needs both in the community and the church. So, what types of prospective new members are out there? The simple church growth principle of. No visitors, no growth, really comes into focus here. Our iCONSULTATION can help you with this part of your church growth mix, but here are some basic thoughts.

THE CHURCH GUEST

Matthew 22:9-10
Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.‟ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

The church guest is one of the best prospective members we have. Remember the contact should be made within 36 hours after their visit if possible. This is because 60% of first time visitors will return if the contact is made within 36 hours, while 15% will return if you wait until the end of the week.

INACTIVE MEMBERS

James 5:19-20
My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

Inactive Sunday School and church members are another resource for visitation. Don’t get discouraged when dealing with inactives. You should be aware that it is likely to require six to ten hours of visitation to move into ministry with the inactive. You can get detailed help with ministry to inactive church members in our library on our web site at MyChurchGrowth.com. Everything in the library is free.

FRAN’s

Mark 5:19-20
… “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

Friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors are rich mission fields for ministry. I have gone to many churches that thought they had no prospects, and asked them to make a list of people they can think of that do not attend church. A small church with a handful of people can easily come up with hundreds of prospects. Try it! Make your list, start praying for the people, and ask God to present opportunity. God does not procrastinate like we do. He is more than willing to set up divine appointments for us.

HOSPITALS AND NURSING HOMES

Luke 8:41-42
Then a man named Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came and fell at Jesus‟ feet, pleading with him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying.

Hospitals and nursing homes are full of people waiting for someone to come by and spend some time talking and praying with them. If you do not have members in the hospital or nursing home, try going from room to room, asking if anyone would like prayer. I have also asked nurses on duty if there is a certain patient that may enjoy a visit from someone. You run the risk of being asked to leave, but unless it is a small hospital, there’s more than one floor and more than one shift of nurses. You may be surprised with the results.

GOING DOOR TO DOOR

Acts 5:42
Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.

Sound a little scary? Being a little frightened is only Satan trying to stop you. Before I was saved, I visited as a Mormon with no fear. Satan did not want to stop me. After I met Jesus Christ began visiting with the true gospel, I found that spirit of fear trying to stop me. Remember that we must only be willing to do it, and God will bless our efforts.

When you consider where you may want to go door to door, something else to consider is the natural traffic pattern. When the church is between the prospects home and a destination the prospect travels to on a regular basis, such as work, it is in the natural traffic pattern. These prospects will be easier to reach since they are accustomed to traveling from home in the direction of the church. It will require approximately 5 visits to get someone to attend worship when the church is in this traffic pattern. It will require about 9 visits for those who live outside that pattern. The most important question is, which field does God want you to work in, and what will the strategies be? These questions will be answered through prayer, the most important, effective part of outreach. Be sure to read the Caring & Sharing article in our library for more help on this subject.

THE BASICS

Acts 19:17
Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Now we want to lay a foundation for knocking on the door and keeping a follow up strategy going. This article will assume first, that the prospect you are visiting has previously attended your church. Other articles in our library will support other types of visitation. Secondly, we will assume the reader knows little or nothing about visitation.

PRAYER

Romans 10:1
Brothers, my heart‟s desire and prayer to God … is that they may be saved.

Prayer is the most important part of the visit. Pray together before leaving the church, not in front of the prospects home. If your prospect looks out the window and sees people sitting in a car in front of their home, it can make for an uncomfortable situation. Praying inside the home silently as someone on your ministry team shares is always appropriate. I recall a visit I made a few years back with a new trainee. “All you have to do is pray as I share Christ with our prospect” I said. Well, as I began to share the gospel with our prospect, my trainee dropped to his knees and began praying loudly, “Oh God, save this wretched sinner!” I couldn’t believe this was happening. I continued as though I hadn’t noticed what my ministry partner was doing. Although our prospect received Christ that night, I explained to my new trainee that this is not be the best approach the next time.

THE APPROACH

Colossians 4:5
Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.

Be sure not to park your vehicle on the grass or a flower bed, and try not to block in other vehicles. You don’t want to position your vehicle so it will have to be moved if someone in the home needs to leave. If there is a woman on your team, she should be the most visible person on the team at the door. This is much less intimidating for most people. Introduce yourself and the team members and state you are from the church immediately. If no one is home, be certain you leave a door hanger with church information, and a brief note to let them know you stopped by.

INSIDE THE HOME

Colossians 4:6
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Once inside the home, you can look for visible things to build a friendly conversation with. For example: Musical instruments, trophies, pictures, etc. Begin building a relationship with the prospect by talking about the things they like. Remember to retrieve any information that may be used for follow up and ministry. Do not take notes in front of the prospects. Stay focused on ministry to the individual. Listen for feelings, attitudes, perceptions and values as well as for facts. Pay attention and avoid interrupting. Never tune people out because you don’t like them, you disagree with them, or you find them dull. This time should not be rushed although you should not overstay your welcome either. Be Spirit led and use good judgment.

LEAVING THE HOME

Ephesians 5:15-16
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, …

Do not end your visit with a reason you must leave. (i.e. We have a meeting to go to, we have more visits to make, I’ve got to get home, etc..) The prospect should feel special enough that you have designated this time just for them. Praying with the prospect is a good way to conclude the visit, but always ask permission to pray for them and never call on them to pray, some people will be very uncomfortable with that.

KEEP GOOD RECORDS FOR ASSIMILATION

Colossians 4:9
… They will tell you everything that is happening here.

In establishing a visitation ministry, report back and record keeping are very important ingredients. A report back session gives opportunity to share about our ministry time for purposes of follow-up ideas and prayer. You can serve refreshments and turn this into a special time of the outreach night. A report back time also brings the paper work or reports back to the church. How will you carry on the assimilation process without this information? It is vital the information retrieved will be useful. The biggest problem I have seen when it comes to visitation reports, is a name of the members who made the visit and “Good visit” written on the form. What strategy would you use to assimilate the prospect with the term “good visit” penciled in on a report? Strategic detailed information must be captured if we are to be effective in outreach ministry.
These are the simple basics of a visitation ministry to get you started. When I watch the weekly attendance records for the churches we work with I can tell when they are not doing the outreach, because The growth starts to level off. Visitation still works today, just as it did in the early church.

For other free articles on ministry to inactives and other evangelism and outreach training for your visitation ministry, visit our library at MyChurchGrowth.com/library.

From the library of MyChurchGrowth.com
copyright ©2011 Church Growth Associates, Inc.
Where the complexity of church growth intersects with the simplicity of the gospel

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Run as if Your Life Depends on It!

By Rev. Rick Robinson

Have you ever worked on something as if your life depended on it? That expression is used when someone puts his or her whole heart into something. The Apostle Paul used the analogy of running a race to succeed in life. Paul is telling us how important it is to place your focus and attitude—that is your whole heart, into winning. (Not whining!)

1 Corinthians 9:24
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.

Like running a race, living life to win requires a healthy heart. God warns us to watch over our hearts. We must be cautious of anything toxic that leads to heartbreak or a hardened heart. Your faith grows and your heart strengthens only when you are stretched to live in a situation like your life depends on it. That is when you have the opportunity to grow toward God or to allow the stress to shift your focus from mission to survival mode.

Proverbs 4:23
Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.

When you find yourself in survival mode, you are accepting what life gives you instead of what God wants you to have. God wants your trust to be in him with your whole heart, not just part of it. A halfhearted trust in God will give you more stress than living for Him like your life depends on it. There are believers in Christ that are stressed out because they refuse to give their hearts and trust over to God.

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

There are times we need to stop whining, making excuses or playing the blame game, and run our race with endurance and perseverance. Is there something you need to let go of so you can live like your life depends on it? Are you making excuses to protect an attitude that needs to go–so you can win the race?

Hebrews 12:1-2
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

If you want to run this race to win, you are going to have to agree that blaming someone else, or your circumstances, are not going to be enough. You are still the one who is going to lose. In the story of the fig tree, Jesus cursed the tree with no fruit, despite the circumstances of it not being fig season. The disciples were being told to bring fruit, not excuses to the Lord.

Mark 11:12-14
Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry. And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. In response Jesus said to it, “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.” And His disciples heard it.

The Prophet Ezekiel was asked to work as though his life depended on it. Could you stand up to this pressure?

Ezekiel 3:18-19
“When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. “Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.

Running to win the race is not only about you. While you are trying to just survive, Satan has a better chance to get you to minimize the fruit you bring to God. Your life may not depend on you sharing Christ with someone, but theirs does. Forty percent of the people who share their faith say they are worried they will not do a good job explaining their faith. A third of those who share their faith enter the conversation with fear they will not be able to answer questions the person has about Christianity. Do you have excuses not to share your faith?

Winning the race requires a healthy heart, but even that is a gift from God. Share the gift.

Isaiah 61:1
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
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