Seven Keys Terms to Effective Outreach

by Dr. Larry Gilbert

Team: God has not called the individual Christian to go it alone in an effort to influence and reach the lost for Christ. He has equipped the entire local church as a team where corporately we all play different roles, using our individual gifts to fulfill the Great Commission (Eph. 4:16).

Relationships: The majority of unchurched people do not come to church seeking to become more spiritual or to get saved. They come to connect with others. As in the popular Cheers theme song, they're looking for "a place where everybody knows their name, and everyone is glad they came." The fact remains that more relationships an unchurched person has within the church, the more apt they are to join the church and less apt to leave the church. Research has shown that 86% of church attendees are there at the invitation of a friend or relative. Therefore we must develop a system that equips laypeople to intentionally develop trusting, redemptive relationships with as many unchurched people as possible.

Saturation: Saturation never settles for the status quo but is going that extra mile. It is persistence. Saturation creates synergy. Synergy says the combined effort is greater than the sum of individual efforts. It says that two plus two equals six. Therefore each evangelistic effort we attempt must be saturated in prayer and as many different tactics as possible to influence the targeted individual for Christ.

Presentation: In order to be saved, at one point or another an individual must hear the gospel and have an opportunity to respond to it. This can be done through many forms: an invitation at the end of a sermon, sharing one's testimony, a tract, audio or video tape, Exploring Christianity classes, outreach Bible studies, or one-on one presentations. Therefore, it is necessary for every Christian to be equipped to effectively share their testimony and a verbal witness of the gospel.

Intentional: most of these relationship-building things above come naturally to new Christians because of their excitement. But as Christians grow older, they tend to become complacent in the Lord and gradually quit doing them. Thus, our churches quit growing. To get Christians growing again or keep them growing to begin with, we must start looking at the types of things we used to do, the things that come natural to new, excited Christians, and commit ourselves to doing them again-intentionally.

Experiment: Today there are many different schools of thought, strategies, tactics, programs, plans, philosophies, and ideas on how to do outreach. Some may be very effective in some congregations while ineffective in others. Therefore, we should be open to experimenting with any effort that does not violate Scripture, while constantly evaluating its effectiveness. After giving proper time to evaluate each tactic, we should set aside the ineffective as we continue to search for and adopt methods that best fit the life of our congregation.

Excitement: Excitement builds a church. When people get excited about what is happening in their lives and in the church, they cannot keep it to themselves. When they share that excitement with others, it attracts people to them and to the church.

Taken from Church Growth Institute, vol. 6, no. 4, Elkton, MD, p. 12

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