A previous article looked at the difficulties of reaching into a pagan culture and impacting lives for Christ. There are people being saved in North America and brought into assembly fellowship but not in the numbers that were seen in 1940 to 1970. The reasons may be varied, some we may guess at, and some perhaps on the divine side relative to the hand of God in the matter. Certainly culture, customs, language, morality, and spirituality have changed over the last forty years.
Many of the comments from the previous article hold true with regard to the earnestness of prayer and the depth of concern for the lost. The watering down of the gospel in the evangelical world and a lack of conviction among believers in general may affect the work of the gospel. The formalism and structure in some places that some saints see as spiritual can certainly be a hindrance to growth. In some assemblies the hindrance may be as basic as a lack of friendliness toward visitors or a lack of easy accessibility to the building.
Examples of Creative Evangelism
I will present a few examples, unnamed, but some will guess at the names due to the outreach activities. These are presented not as the pattern of how things should be done, but as examples of what has “worked” in some communities.
- One assembly that has seen many saved and brought into fellowship have used some innovative means that worked in their area. Over decades there has been a weekly sports activity with a testimony or message after the game. Using this means, it has resulted in the fact that perhaps close to 200 unsaved men have heard the gospel over the past forty years.
- Another yearly outreach has been a Christian athlete’s banquet that has drawn as many as 200 – 250 unsaved. Over 40 years that activity may have resulted in over 10,000 different individuals hearing the gospel. The testimony or an account of it was printed in the city newspaper the day after the banquet. Sometimes it was just the reporter’s words, but at times there was a clear presentation of the gospel allowing thousands more to be presented with the message. These types of outreaches have been effective because individuals invited their friends and family members to attend. This assembly did gospel series until the mid 90’s after which it became difficult to get Christians to commit to a week of meetings and hard to get the unsaved to come into a chapel.
- Another assembly has used their parking lot and building to attract young people. In playing ball hockey either inside or outside there was an opportunity to connect. Some of the contributors to this site were reached by this means, befriended, witnessed to, and then discipled.
- An assembly I know of has seen growth because several believers work in the same place and have reached out to fellow employees. By this means the assembly is growing and there is some excitement as new Christians start to grow.
- Several assemblies in cities with universities have realized that if they offer students food the young people will return. One of the realities of life is that youth can attract other youth in a way that older folk cannot do.
- There are assemblies that have reasonably large properties or access to space that has been used for community events. In this way they were at least able to make contact with their neighbours. Some places have benefited numerically as a result of people getting saved through a tract or from reading the Bible and these individuals coming to an assembly in their search for a church home.
- One assembly hosted a community carnival with games, food, prizes and preached the gospel to over 600 people. On another occasion they invited a professional juggler who is a believer to put on a 90 minute show and share the gospel – over 300 attended. Last year they hosted a Christmas family night with free portraits and had 13 families from the community attend.
Hindrances to the Gospel
One hindrance many places face is an inability or unwillingness to use their main auditorium for anything but meetings. In some chapels this is the most viable place to do something unique in terms of outreach but there is the struggle to accept it as just a room. There are some assemblies that have effectively used their building for outreaches other than a gospel meeting.
By far a bigger issue is the lack of individuals making meaningful contact with the unsaved. Along with this is the challenge of reaching across cultural lines as immigrants flood into North America. A reality in many assemblies in North America is that generally few of those in fellowship live close to the meeting place so it becomes more difficult to reach a neighbourhood. I know of some individuals who have purposely moved closer to their assembly so as to be an influence in the immediate neighbourhood.
These thoughts are presented with a view to encourage those who are trying to reach out to the lost and to show that there are things happening in some locations. I know of many who are concerned, who are active in the spreading of the gospel but have seen little if any results. Every assembly should give those in their neighbourhood the opportunity to read or hear the gospel so none can say in a future day “they had the truth but they never shared it with me”.
Editorial Note: Please share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page ways your assembly has been creative in evangelism.