Yesterday I posted five reasons why organized outreach is declining in the church today (read that post here). Today I want to share two forms of outreach that we did at First Baptist Church of Edmond, Oklahoma while I was the interim Education Minister.
Short-term Home Groups
Last spring we had 24 families host neighborhood home groups using JD Greear’s Gospel Revolution. So why did we use home groups? If your church has chosen to no longer offer some kind of weekly outreach ministry, then you need to replace it with something. We chose to try replacing weekly outreach with home groups. Honestly, most of the people that attended the home groups were church members, and a significant number of other people attending home groups were members of other churches. But we did have some lost people attend some of our home groups and we did have two professions of faith.
This fall, we conducted weekly outreach. Rather than start an ongoing 52 weeks/year outreach strategy, we decided to do a 10 week semester beginning after Labor Day and ending in early November. We met on Sunday evenings and found most people are home on Sunday night. In addition, our average participation was almost 50 people per week. In 10 weeks, we visited 349 people in their home, had three professions of faith, and had 91 people join the church during the 10 weeks of outreach. Much like our home group experience, most of the people we visited were already saved, but were either unchurched or recently relocated.
The 10 week semester for outreach worked much better for us. During that 10 week semester, we met in the home of every person that visited our church and completed a guest card, from August to November. The response from our guests was phenomenal. Many said that our church was the only church they visited that followed up with them. In addition to visiting our guests, we also visited every guest at our Trunk ‘n Treat that was not already a member of another church. The enthusiasm of the people participating in our weekly outreach was extremely high.
In addition to following up on our guests, we also had a team go to a parking lot of a grocery store. They returned shopping carts from the parking lot to the store and handed out information out our church. Our college team went to the university campus and distributed water bottles on the soccer fields. They built rapport with the students and shared the Gospel several times.
20 minutes of video training (we used CROSS)
75 minutes of home visitation
15-20 minutes of report and celebration time
As a result, our church has scheduled three, 10 week semesters of organized church outreach for next year (spring, summer, fall).
A home group outreach strategy may be the best choice for your church. Our church found weekly outreach to be a better choice for us, although we may do home groups again too. The bottom line is that churches schedule what is important. Look at the weekly calendar in your church bulletin or worship guide. Your church schedules corporate worship, small group Bible study, discipleship groups, mission trips, and age-group activities because they are important. Can you locate evangelism in your church’s schedule?
Here are two suggestions to promote outreach and evangelism in your church. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below…