Last week, Thom Rainer wrote a very interesting and compelling blog post. It is one that I believe all “church people,” especially “church people who have been in church a long time” ought to read. Really – it is for “Southern Baptist’s who have been in the church for a long, long time.”
The title? “Seven Reasons Why Most Church Outreach Programs Fail.”
Click on the link above to read the whole thing. For now, here are his 7 reasons:
- They are seen as an end instead of a means.
- Most outreach programs are not addressed in front-end membership classes.
- Many outreach programs do not feel natural.
- When a church has an outreach program, it can be perceived as a ministry for the few.
- Most outreach programs fail to explain that sharing the love of Christ is a vital part of spiritual growth.
- Outreach programs can offer excuses for people not to be outwardly focused.
- Outreach programs can put the responsibility of evangelism on institutions.
Why do I bring this up on “Throw It Out There” Thursday?
I’m glad you asked.
One, I believe Rainer is SPOT on in his observations and I want as many as possible to read what he says.
But two, I believe he has hit on something that I want to highlight and “Throw Out There.”
More times than I can count, as a pastor I have heard “long-time” church members say that their “thing” is not sharing the Gospel with unbelievers. In other words, they do some things at the church – but their “thing” isn’t sharing Jesus with the lost. These are good people (for the most part!). These are people who love Jesus and love the church. . . so I think. For a while, I questioned the salvation of people who would say something like this. And while some may need genuine salvation, I think there is something else going on. I wonder if – when long time church members say they don’t share the Gospel – their understanding of “sharing the Gospel” (i.e., evangelism) is meeting on Tuesday nights to try to memorize 4 spiritual laws, go make cold call visits, and regurgitate what they memorized? I wonder if their understanding of sharing is having 8 people from the entire church gather, gripe about who isn’t present, memorize some canned version of sharing, and then go out until time to meet up at Dairy Queen?
If that’s the case – my “thing” isn’t sharing the Gospel either! If that is “evangelism” to you, I have great news: It is so much MORE, and dare I say it, more natural than this!
I want to “Throw This Out There”: Sharing the Gospel is about constantly looking for people and ways and relationships in order to infuse a Gospel witness with those you believe are without Christ. Can it happen on Tuesday nights when you are trained to share Jesus? Sure. But that’s not near all it is. It is to happen when you go out to eat. It is to happen in your neighborhood. It is to happen in your cubicle at work. It is to happen when you are on the phone with a telemarketer. It is to happen in your family meal times. It is to happen when you get your hair cut. It is to happen whenever and wherever you go. Sometimes, it is a “one shot” deal when you are paying for your groceries. Other times, it is a result of an intentional relationship you have built with a friend or coworker or neighbor. The Gospel is NOT something to be proclaimed just on Tuesday nights between 6:15 and 6:45 pm. It is a lifestyle that MUST be on the heart and lips of every genuine follower of Jesus. Sharing Jesus with others is not something that “some” do on Tuesdays while others “knit for Jesus” on Mondays. It is something that every follower of Jesus is equipped and called to do.
I don’t believe you can be an authentic follower of Him and NOT want to make Him known.
I don’t believe you can be a real Christian and NOT desire to see others want Him too.
I don’t believe you can walk with Jesus and not talk about Him with those around you.
Please understand what evangelism really is and pray for the Spirit’s empowering and divine appointments to intentionally go out and make Him known where you are.