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.
7. Start a new worship service. Churches that begin new worship services generally experience renewed vision and greater excitement about inviting guests, especially when it is geared to a younger more contemporary crowd. Charles Arn gives several benefits in his book, “How to Start a New Service”
A. Reach the unchurched more effectively B). Minister to more people C). Become more contextual D). Help the parent church shift its life cycle to a healthier point E). Allow for change while retaining the familiar F). Help the parent congregation survive. G). Reach new kind of people
8. Help sponsor, or actually participate in a new church. Begin by starting groups that will love the unlovable, bring justice to unjust situations and generally meet felt, real, perceived and spiritual needs of people. Follow the guidelines and examples seen in the book of Acts. Tradition has it that Matthew went to Ethiopia, Andrew traveled to Scythia and Bartholomew journeyed to India and Arabia. The most effective way of reaching new people is to start a new fellowship that is designed to meet their needs. Peter Wagner says, “The single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven is planting new churches. We want to remove as many obstacles as possible for helping people hear and respond positively to the word of God.
9. Revise your churches budget to identify and increase spending in the specific area related to evangelism. For example you can say, “For the next budget year, this church will direct at least 5% of its general fund income to the evangelizing of this community, including training church people and hosting events designed to build bridges of outreach. Money tends to follow vision. Find the areas where God seems to be blessing the most and urge decision makers to commit funds to expand these programs. The average church spends about 3% of its budget and resources on local outreach and at best 3% overseas. Try to whittle down the remaining 94% of what a church is spending on itself and put it more toward kingdom expanding priority purposes