Summary: A Summary of some of the fine outreach guidelines from Tom Clegg’s award winning book, Lost in America
Suggestions From Tom Clegg’s Lost in America for Effective Church Outreach
1. Pray regularly in community and by name for lost or unchurched people you personally know. Prayer requires discipline but the body of Christ helps us pray with greater consistently. Solomon wrote, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Eccl. 4:12) Ask the Lord to give you several prayer partners, add praying for the lost a part of your meal time routine, start a prayer journal and sign up for prayer requests on internet prayer services.
2. Start or join a new small group. Growing churches tend to do best when they are managed through groups that care about one another. Relationships do not occur naturally in a church. The best way to build friendships in a church is usually through small groups. People will come to Christ through small group Bible studies or in groups where they feel loved into the kingdom of God. Some churches will offer Alpha courses to give their congregations a structure where the gospel can be shared with seekers.
3. Champion a face-lift at church that will give people an excuse to invite a friend. The face-lift may include a new program, a coat of paint, or a new event that appeals to the needs of people in the community. Whatever it takes to get people more excited about bringing their friends to church can be a morale booster for many who have lost their excitement about outreach. Consider what barriers need to be removed to help newcomers have a greater feeling of being welcomed and accepted into the family of God.
4. Develop a more guest friendly way of helping newcomers fit in. Give people the benefit of having a sponsor or a mentor or a buddy to form new friendships in the church. Care teams often look out for newcomers so they are nurtured into the fellowship. Most people who do not find friends in a church usually lose interest or look for another place to worship.
Maxie Dunnam, the President of Asbury Theological Seminary asks the following questions of each church:
A. Do you really want to know these people who are all around us?
B. Do you want them in your church?
C. Are you willing for your church to become their church?
D. Are you willing to go where they are and engage them on their turf?
E. Are you willing to spend time with them – identify with them and show genuine compassion?
5. Join the most outreach effective ministry at your church that matches your spiritual gifts. Move with your church instead of fighting against the maintenance trends of many churches. Find out what the churches are doing where people are coming to saving faith in Christ and learn from them. Of the five aspects of Acts 2:41-47 that are mentioned in Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Church (Disciple-making, Worship, Evangelism, Edification and Service ministries) which of these can you best use your spiritual gift to help the kingdom of God expand best in quantity and quality.
6. Find or help create other relational and culturally relevant contexts to bring guests to. The key to evangelism is not learning how to win arguments with people, but learning how to love them. Build on people’s hobbies and interests. These may include motorcycles, fishing, sports or children’s sporting events.