The month of August has been a different month for our church. First Baptist Ruidoso has experienced great crowds. Some of our highest in over a year. We are holding our own financially. We are baptizing. We are moving forward and are doing all the right things (for the most part). Yet all those things are not what I’m focused on tonight. I’m thinking of another thing.
Many people say old school “outreach” or “visitation” doesn’t work. Yet for the month of August I’ve watched 6-8 people come each Monday night to visit people who were either “guests” on Sunday or have been connected in the past. I’ve done outreach in every way imaginable: door-to-door, email, invite, servant evangelism, preaching the gospel in country and out in the bush, serving as a decision counselor, and simply witnessing in a Walmart line. No bragging here. Just stating the facts.
I live in Ruidoso, New Mexico. It’s a settled, retirement/recreation community. Most of our community is lost. And that’s the rub. I want to share a few reasons why the “touches on peoples’ lives” at any level are important:
1. You never know how lost people are until you go door-to-door. I’ve gone door-to-door in suburban areas. In an hour you can hit about 25-30 homes. You will get 15-20% of those homes to open a door. Of that 15% you will only get to actually talk beyond the initial greeting to 5% of the people. Yet you would be amazed at what you will see on a door step. You will see the lostness of humanity even in the most affluent home. You will see sin, spiritual apathy, kids who come to a church campus while parents could care less. You never know how lost people are until you are out there among them.
2. Outreach touches are crucial because a simple invite sets the stage for people to return to your church campus. I’ve found true the stat that says, “95% of Christians never share their faith.” Evangelism is “sharing the gospel of jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God.” I’ve also found true the fact that most Christians will not share their faith until they become confident in inviting their friends to the church campus. Igniting by inviting is the way to get people sharing. How does a campus become a place where people are confident to invite their friends?
- Vibrant worship service
- Friendly people
- Passionate biblical preaching
Without a positive, purposeful atmosphere, people will not be motivated and will not invite people because they are not confident.
3. Working on the right atmosphere is crucial but you have to do two things at one time. At our church we are blessed to have a good atmosphere for doing God’s work. We are not perfect but we are not a church not pursuing God. We are working to do all we can to challenge people to become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. Yet these past Monday nights have shown me that what most people think needs to happen in a church (even ours) is not enough. We must ALSO reach out. Touching people now requires an attitude of urgency. Simple touches matter. You can’t wait until everything is right. You, and your church, must reach out now AND make things better for your church.
And for those people out there who say “visitation” or “outreach” doesn’t work, tell that to the people who are lost. They won’t get a mail out. They are not following God. PLUS, Jesus commanded us to “Go … make disciples.” Doesn’t sound optional to me.