This is the plan to show you step-by-step how to conduct an evangelism program for a church or a para-church. This is what needs to be accomplished before a crusade, before a "revival meeting," then continued so we can be the light in the world. Many of these insights will also apply to personal one-on-one witnessing, too.
The Basic Evangelism Plan
We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:20
What do we do? How do we do it? Where do we start? There are many ways to preach and reach people for the Lord. We need to remember the insights from the previous chapter on witnessing personally, as these precepts are still essential, especially when combined collectively as a group. We are always to present Christ authentically and represent Him with passion from the excitement of our spiritual growth, from conviction because we know He is true, from clarity so we make sense, and have compassion and love for the people with whom we are sharing. In addition, we are to proclaim Christ in truth, and we do this from knowing the Scriptures.
We are to present Christ as He is; we are never to bend Him to fit a mold that He is not, either out of fear that others may not understand or accept Him, or from our embarrassment. The understanding is purely the role of the Spirit, not of us; we are just to be clear and real. Essential doctrine is crucial because we are proclaiming God, and God is a God of truth. We are His ambassadors; we are never to misrepresent Him.
Understanding how Andrew and Philip witnessed will enable us to apply the same principles as a group. By means of the principles of Scripture along with over twenty-five years of evangelism research and experience, I devised a simple step-by-step process that anyone, regardless of age or experience, can use to step out for Him. The key is simple; rely on God. The how is simple; pray. Every real and great revival was sparked and fueled by prayer. The Spirit uses our prayers. When we pray, God will use us as well as others for whom we are praying. Our prayers line us up with His truth and allow us to be usable for His glory. If you are too young, too old, or incapacitated, and all you can do is pray, you are doing the most important work.
Step I: Pray!
Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. Romans 10:1
Follow the precepts of the previous chapter, but spend even more time in prayer, and enlist even more people to pray. Spend as much time as possible just praying for at least three months before embarking on evangelism campaigns and crusades. It is essential to commit several months to prayer, as we do in the Billy Graham and the Harvest Crusades. We do not just show up and "do" a crusade; it takes months, sometimes years of ground work, enlisting churches, training counselors, setting up prayer groups, and so forth. Each person involved in the crusade's planning and training is praying for a particular person and training others to do so too-for their salvation and for opportunities to share and invite them to the event unless God gives a clear and open door beforehand. If we are going door-to-door in a neighborhood, we need to spend at least one month walking that neighborhood in prayer before we talk to anyone. Remember, the more you pray, the more you will be used. Your full time job will be to pray for them.
Step II: What Are the Needs?
And because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them. Acts 18:3
Churches that have successful ministry and evangelism programs are geared to fit a need in their community. One of the things we do in my church is tutor children. Through that program, we have countless opportunities to witness to the parents by our willingness to take the time and show them the love and care they just do not get elsewhere. This has worked extremely well. Because we started our tutoring, we now have many outreach programs canvassing the neighborhood that the neighborhood people want there. In fact, we have recently adopted a school, involving many people both in and outside of our church; we spend time with those who are in need and in so doing, we are sharing the faith. It took a lot of work and a slow relational process to allow a school that has liberal tendencies and not always friendly to churches to now invite us, a church, to the campus to do faith-based outreach!
After 10 years of doing neighborhood outreach, my once predominately white suburban church is now about 50 percent White. The rest are Black, Hispanic, and Asian. In fact, I predict our next senior pastor may not be Anglo. Our church now better reflects the make-up of the community and shows the Light of our Lord. We are far from perfect, but we are trying. Our biggest problem is we just do not have enough people to go to the schools and help with counseling and outreach. In a previous, inner-city church where I was on staff, I looked for the needs of our youth's parents such as jobs, cars, and such. Then, I networked with others to find them jobs, cars, shoes, or whatever they needed. This program became too successful and we could not handle all the people coming. Remember, we all have needs; be a listener and find out what those needs are, and then help out joyfully, without being pretentious or condescending.
To effectively engage the community, we have to find out what the community needs are and what the church can do to meet those needs. There are three questions to keep in mind when seeking God's will to evangelize:
1. What are the needs in my community? Then develop a needs based community outreach programs.
2. What can my church and I do to fill those needs? Is it gangs? Develop a teen center and after-school program along with parent training and counseling. Is it joblessness? Develop a work-training center and referral program. Is it substance abuse? Develop recovery programs. Is it a run-down neighborhood? Develop a program to clean it up and build a park. Is it literacy? Develop a reading and tutoring program for adults. Is it an upper middle class neighborhood? Then, I bet the people are two-income families who are so busy the cat raises the children. Develop an after-school program and concentrate on better partnering, counseling, and childcare. Many helps are available from Focus on the Family, found on the web at www.family.org. Do not know? Then go to your local Chamber of Commerce or various community groups and ask around. Too small? Partner with other churches. After all, we are the body of Christ!
3. What would be the proper biblical response to strangers, considering outreach and evangelism along with discernment and protection, especially for young people and women? Ask other churches for copies of their procedures and rules (your denomination may have them, too) and ask what they are doing, so you do not have to "reinvent the wheel."
What can you do to improve your church's cooperation, encouraging them to work together for a unified vision and purpose and for the value of encouragement? How would you take that to your neighborhood? Be sensitive to culture and feelings. Be a person who loves, cares, and listens. People need that!
The needs could lead to seminars of interest, such as "Effective Parenting" or "How to Handle Your Teenager." You could have a "date night" program and "baby-sit" community youth for free so parents can get some rest and get out of the house; start a job-help and training center; develop an "Alpha" Program (http://guide.gospelcom.net/resources/alpha.php). If you are overseas, you could dig a well, make a road, start an orphanage, or sponsor a school. Start a business, help plan or provide a school to help people start their own businesses. Provide no to low interest loans for new businesses, or create a youth center. The options are as numerous as the people you are reaching. Think creatively, without the hindrances of money and time, and see what God can do through you. Then, step-by-step pray, and figure out how it can be accomplished.
Step III: Have Prayer Walks Through Your Neighborhood!
As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. Matthew 10:12-13
This is the "Matthew 10 principle." After praying for the communities for at least a month, go door-to-door and just ask people how you can pray for them; then pray as a group for those needs. About a week later, go to them again and see if there is anything else you can pray for; then pray. Ask if they would like to hear about the Lord. Have a short presentation ready and, if possible, some information they could use to learn more and get in touch with you or another Christian. In countries where this is illegal, you will have to be creative, cautious, and discreet. Remember, your character and attitude are more important than your words.
1. Divide your neighborhood, section by section, until the whole city is prayed for (within reason-if your church is in Los Angeles, not realistic). Then, just pray in authority for your city. Pray as you walk, pray at home, pray at your church.
2. In teams of two, go to each house, knock on the door, and ask how you can pray for them. Give none of your church propaganda (unless they ask for it) or even an invitation to church; just ask their prayer needs, then go back to the church and pray for them. If there is a request you can fill, then fill it. You may even get a bulletin board for your church "narthex" (entry way, foyer, hallway, lobby, or whatever you call where people congregate) and place all the prayer requests on it so the members have a chance to fill the needs. Have the cards number-coded so they remain anonymous to every one except the director and the people in the loop.
13. Pray where the people are. Public school teachers, you can come to your class early, sit in your student's seats, and pray for each of them, so each student gets prayed for at least once a week. Pastors and church leaders should do this for those who only attend the worship services as well as for those in the Sunday school classes. This also works for people at your work and your family; just make sure you do not intrude on or violate their privacy.
Step IV: Church Planting!
Praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:47
If you already have a church, then funnel the people into it. Make sure it is a church that teaches the gospel with truth, clarity, compassion, conviction, and passion. If no church is available, or if one is needed, then plant one.
1. Follow the "Matthew 10 Principle" to plant a church. Spend a month in the village/town just praying before engaging in witnessing unless God opens up clear opportunities.
2. Provide discipleship training, encouragement, and start a Bible study that also has worship and prayer for the people who come to the Lord.
3. Use a Bible study to plant your church; if your church fails, do not be dismayed or give up. Do not neglect the people; feed them into your church or another church where they can be shepherded. When our timing is not God's, a church plant will fail. When you are ready and He calls, try again.
4. When you share, do it with care. Start with prayer; then care, share, and continue to pray. After that, plant and disciple the church. If you leave out any of the above, you are not planting; you will be as 1 Corinthians 13:1 puts it, a noise.
Assign people to pray for each church planter, pastor, and missionary of the church on a constant basis. This is essential. Do this for both individual prayer warriors and collectively in a prayer group. Once the "Matthew 10 Principle" is finished (it may take months, and can be revisited at any point or be a continuing ministry), have prayer teams visit each member and potential member of the church. Pray for and with them at least once every six months. Assign people to keep them in prayer daily.© 2006, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org