Copyright 2012 Church Growth Associates, Inc.
CREATING COMMUNITY AWARENESS
CARING & SHARING
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
1 Timothy 2:3-
You may be surprised at how many people in your community do not know anything at
all about your church. They do not know what programs you have or what caring people
you have in your congregation. Many of them do not even know where your church is
located. I can tell you first hand about this because when I go into a community
for an onsite consultation, I talk with people around the area. I know we build a
church through relationships and a personal invitation to friends relatives and associates,
but we tend to overlook a large area of prospects the Lord Jesus is concerned about.
Not only do the unchurched people in your community not know what a great church
you have, they do not know what a great God you have. We are not to conserve our
evangelistic efforts for just the people we already know. I can also tell you as
Is your church the one people know about because you sell trees at Christmas time, or pumpkins in the fall? Are you the church people know about because you care about people and meeting needs? A pastor of one of the churches I worked with was skeptical about this fact. I took him out door to door on the same street his church was located on. We knocked on nine doors and seven of the nine people we talked to could not tell us where the church was. They were surprised when we told them it was just a block away. As the pastor and I were walking back to the church we came upon a pedestrian. I suggested to the pastor that he ask the pedestrian where the church was. He could not answer even though it was in plain view. The pastor of that church is now convinced his community awareness was very low. He made a commitment to personally introduce himself to the people that live around his church.
Take this challenge to discover the community awareness of your church. Stop into a local convenience store or other local business and ask if they can tell you where your church is located. Do not tell them you are a member or the pastor. Just find out if they know where it is located. If you have a neighborhood church, drive through the area and find someone outside. You can ask the people you find out in the yard if they can direct you to the church. You may be surprised how many people pass by your church on a regular basis and do not even know where it is. If you fail this first test, I can assure you these people do not know anything else about your church.
In a survey of the unchurched, only nine percent felt like the church was very sensitive to their needs. Chances are, you want to be sensitive to the unchurched or you would not be reading this now. It is God's desire for the church to reach out into the world around us to meet needs, and bring people into the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. In a survey taken in the United States, over eighty five percent of Americans believe there is a God who answers prayer, but over sixty percent think Christians and all other people groups pray to the same God. This indicates a serious lack of understanding of whom Jesus Christ is. The good news is, there is a receptivity to allow you to pray for them. That is the approach Caring & Sharing is designed to take advantage of.
You can get creative with this ministry and let the Lord take it for you where He will. This material was written with a strategy of praying for people, meeting needs when possible, and getting the opportunity to introduce people to your church and more importantly, to Jesus Christ. Not everyone in your church will feel comfortable sharing their faith, but everyone in your church can take some part of this ministry if they want to be involved. If you do not already have a food pantry or a clothes closet, pray about starting new ministries, this might be an opportunity to meet needs and reach more people for Christ. I have started this in churches that did just that. I also have organized a church to take up a weekly offering (We used Wednesday night offerings) and gave the money to their needs oriented evangelistic outreach. God will provide everything you need if He wants you to give to the community, but this ministry can be done without spending a penny since it is based on praying for people, and loving people.
If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?
Ask God where He would have you to reach out, and then enlist people to pray for the efforts. There may be a few or there may be many members who want to be active in this outreach, but start with what God gives you. Be sure to keep testimonies in front of your members. Be certain this is not done in a way that embarrasses or offends newcomers through this outreach, you don't want visitors to think you sit around talking about people. I suggest a report back time with refreshments for after the outreach. This will build a lot of excitement, and encourage the people that had a poor response on that day. If you plan to do this when you do your weekly visitation outreach, include everyone in the report back time, not just the people who participated in the Caring & Sharing event. Separating the report back will divide your forces and give Satan the opportunity to make them feel like one group is favored over another.
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.
Some people seem to think this type of ministry is outdated, but you will quickly see this biblical strategy is still useful for the church today. I have led hundreds of people to Christ, and trained large numbers of workers and pastors in these methods.
For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
The model I will use here is for a small church that has no resources, but there is a willingness to allow God to use them to make a difference in their community. I went with a pastor just last week into such a community. Within a little over one hour, we knocked on nine doors, talked with seven people, shared the gospel with five people and saw two people place their trust in Jesus Christ.
When they answer the door, introduce yourself and tell them where you are from and what you are there for right away. This will keep Satan from playing on those questions in their minds while you build your relationship with them. I carry nothing with me, so I do not look like I belong to one of the cults. It is not even close to the approach the cults take at the door.
Let's say you and I were going to try this together. My first dialogue when they answer the door would go something like this…
Hi, I'm Rick and this is (your first name). We are from (your church name), and we are just out in the community today praying for people. We want to let people know that somebody cares about them, and wants to help them in any way we can. Do you have anything at all we can pray for you about?
This is going to get some kind of response. I have had people slam the door in my face, but more often when I was a Mormon than as a Christian. I have had them tell me they attend another church. Those are not your prospects, so move on to the ones God wants you to meet.
You will find some people to be cautiously interested in allowing a stranger to pray for them. Do not force yourself on them or pry into their personal life. After you have introduced yourself to them, And they have talked with you briefly but the conversation seems like it may be closing, it can be an excellent opportunity to find out if they know for certain they will go to Heaven when they die. I generally ask them point blank…
(Their first name here), we appreciate your hospitality in talking with us, I know God has a great plan for your life. Before we go can I ask you, do you know for certain, if you were to die today, you would go to Heaven?
The response will be anywhere from I don't know to I hope so, and some may not be able to answer at all. (That can be taken for a no.) Most of them at this point will say they don't know. Questions like "Do you know Jesus?" will likely generate a yes response, because people don't understand what you are really asking.
Now you can ask permission to share with them by saying something like…
(Their first name), can I share with you how I came to know I am going to Heaven when I die, and how you can know it too?
If the answer is yes, share the gospel with them. If you have accepted Christ, then you already know enough information to tell someone how to get saved. (What is your story?) We have resources in the iLibrary at MyChurchGrowth.com to help you with that if you need it.
The biggest enemy you have is not standing in the door of that home. The most common enemy you will have is the one named fear. When I was a Mormon, fear did not try to stop me, we were on the same team. Once I got saved, fear has tried to divert me from ministry every step of the way.
2 Timothy 1:7
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and
You need to recognize the spirit of fear for what it is. There is nothing wrong with you, it is normal for Satan to try and stop you from reaching out. Don't let the spirit of fear stand between you and what God wants you to do. Getting started is easy, being disciplined to finish strong is essential and trusting in Jesus Christ to lead you is everything. Place your trust in what Jesus has already done.
"My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 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. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”
BUILD ON YOUR MOMENTUM
Be sure to keep good records of your outreach. Following up on your new prospect families will still be a lot of work, it's not on auto pilot now that they have met Jesus. Set up an appointment to return to their home, and begin building a lasting relationship with them. To continue your ministry to these families you will need to develop a strategy to assimilate them into your church family. The more information you can capture about them, the more you will be able to be successful with this. For example, if they love fishing, and you have someone in your church that loves fishing, you may have a natural bridge to use. There are free resources to print notebooks you can use for outreach in our iLibrary at MyChurchGrowth.com. I pray this material will stir up the creativity and vision within you to take your church into the community for life change. People are home waiting on someone who cares right now.
There is no time like the present to get started with this ministry. Get creative and be sure to let us know what you are doing to reach the people in your community for Christ, we want to pray for you too. You can send your prayer request to prayer@MyChurchGrowth.com or you can go to MyChurchGrowth.com and select prayer request from the menu.
He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done.
WHERE THE COMPLEXITY OF CHURCH GROWTH INTERSECTS WITH THE SIMPLICITY OF THE GOSPEL
…upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.
— Matthew 16:18