Category Archives: outreach

Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out

SharingJesusWithoutFreakingOutAlvin Reid’s latest book, Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out, is a great read that will encourage you as a witness for Christ. Shorter in length than his textbook The Evangelism Handbook, which I recommend you read as well, this book is very personal, borrowing from personal stories of witnessing encounters of Reid and others. Jesus desires for us to be His witnesses (see Mark 4:19, Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8). Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out will help you in this pursuit as a believer.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book to wet your appetite:

  • In our mastery of fellowship with the saints, we’ve lost a burden for a friendship with sinners.
  • Lost people are more amazed at our silence than offended at our message.
  • The only “failure” in witnessing is the failure to witness, and even when that happens God still loves you.
  • Daily prayer: “God, give me today (1) an opportunity to speak with someone about Jesus; (2) the wisdom to see it; and (3) the courage to take it.”
  • living for Jesus is not hard, it’s impossible! That’s why God gave us his Son to save us, his Spirit to live within us, his Word to guide us, and his church to encourage us.
  • You can’t evangelize effectively on a consistent basis without prayer.
  • if you know someone really closely for years and never speak about Jesus, you are speaking about him: you are saying with your lack of words he is no big deal.

Right now you can buy a box of 20 for $5 each from Lifeway.com. Grab a box for your church, small group, etc. I’m giving away a couple of boxes at our Louisiana Church Planting Network gatherings this summer. Also, our church is also giving this book away on Sunday’s this summer.

Pray4EveryHome.com

Loving the App http://pray4everyhome.com/. You can sign up as a praying neighbor and get your church signed up as a partner church. Get five neighbors names emailed to you everyday.

Why Pray for Neighbors? In a typical neighborhood:

  • 7 struggle with depression and thoughts of suicide
  • 7 abuse or are addicted to drugs and alcohol
  • 14 are crippled with fear and anxiety
  • 60 don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ

Check out pray4everyhome.com.

pray4everyhome-com

6 Simple Holiday Outreach Ideas for Your Church

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Here’s a few simple Holiday outreach projects that any church, small group, family, or individual can afford. I can testify that these make a big impact with a small investment of time & money.

1. Gift cards for ICU Waiting Rooms. At any given time in your community there are people reeling from traumatic events or devastating illness. Their families can be found in waiting rooms at your local hospital. Pick up a handful of Gift Cards to the closest restaurants & coffee shops, drop by & give them out with a “Praying for You” card from your church. Offer to pray for anyone you get to talk with. Simple act of kindness can breathe life into someone that is overwhelmed with bad news. If no one is there, give them to the nurses desk & they’ll pass them out for you. These nurses could also use prayer & encouragement. Call ahead & find out when visiting times are so that you know when people are in the waiting rooms. $100 for 5-10 gift cards.

IMG_56232. Care packages for the Homeless. If you live in a metro area or near the interstate, you probably get an invitation to serve the homeless everyday at area red lights. “Should I give them money?” is a constant question. Few of us carry cash anymore. Doing nothing is not desirous for most believers. How about make up some simple care packages with some goodies that that can be passed out the window of a car? Keep 3-5 in your car at all times. $10 per bag.

3. Christmas Decor for Nursing Home Residents. Go to your local nursing home & ask for a list of residents with no local family. The reality for these residents is often few visits if any, few seasonal decorations for their walls, few convenient items like warm socks or lotion. Offer to pray for them. Find out what they want or need & plan a return visit. Spend some time listening to their story. $25 for a few Christmas decorations & simple cards colored by kids.

IMG_57214. Fruit baskets for Elderly shut-ins. Local shut-ins are lonely. They often feel trapped. They often have simple to-do’s around their home that can be taken care of in less than an hour. Making up fruit baskets to deliver to them gives you a reason to encourage them with a visit & find out other needs that your faith community can take care of on their behalf.  $25 for a bowl or basket & fruit & other goodies to go int them.

5. Weatherization for Local Widows. In every community there are widows & widowers that can no longer take care of simple things like wrapping their pipes or preparing their home for winter. A great project for the men’s group could be spend one Saturday per year wrapping pipes. $100 worth of weatherization supplies.

teachersloung6. Holiday Treats for Local Teachers Lounges. We often hear laments about churches not being able to “get into the schools.” Most of the time, we’re trying to get in on our terms instead of thinking of ways to be a blessing. We found one way that is enthusiastically accepted 100% of the time at our local schools: stuffing snack baskets full of goodies for teacher’s lounges at the beginning of the school year, holidays, & end of school. Christmas is a great time for this. Shoot for the week that school is getting out. There’s probably a party going on! $100 per Teacher’s lounge.

What other similar outreach ideas have you or your church done at Christmas?

What if…

  • Every ICU Patient family got a gift card & a prayer.
  • Every homeless person got a care packet.
  • Every Nursing Home resident had Christmas decorations.
  • Every shut-in got a fruit basket.
  • Every widow had her pipes wrapped for winter.
  • Every Teacher’s lounge had holiday treats & a note of encouragement from your church.

Do Something TODAY About Declining Baptism Numbers!

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Christ’s Community Church in Denham Springs baptized 135 last year utilizing intentional strategy.

Annual pre-convention report on Southern Baptist Church life is out and again show baptisms in decline. I can’t (or won’t) speak to how to change the decline in the Southern Baptist Convention (plenty of other smarter people than I can & will do that), but I can think about how to address this decline in MY church. As a mentor of mine says, “The Southern Baptist Convention never baptized anyone. LOCAL CHURCHES baptize its converts.” And it takes intentionality! So here’s the To-do list of one small town, bi-vocational pastor of an average size (150 attenders) SBC church:

Question: Do we have a list of potential candidates?

1. Look over our church directory & circle the names of people that I know have not been baptized or that I’m not sure have been baptized.

2. Make appointments with at least one of these each day, until everyone circled has been challenged to consider where they are in their journey toward Christ.

3. Plan a sermon on Baptism where everyone will be challenged to follow and obey Christ with the opportunity to respond.

Question: Are we making Evangelistic Contacts?

4. Pray for open doors to share the gospel.

5. Plan a time today & at least three times each week, to intentionally interact with people that are far from God.

6. Put at least three outreach events on the calendar between now and the end of the year that are sure to engage people who are far from God. Get names, pray, follow up.

Question: Are we developing an Evangelistic Culture in our Church?

7. Plan at least one evangelism training for the entire church between now and the end of the year.

8. Put on the calendar at least one monthly special prayer time for lost and unchurched people in our community.

9. Challenge our church leaders by email and in person to right down the names of five people that they know who need Christ. If they don’t know five people, challenge them to get to know five people who need Christ.

Question: When’s the Next Baptism?

10. Put on the calendar at least 3 Sunday’s that the church will have baptism services and begin to announce those in every church communication.

11. Print up a brochure or pamphlet that answers questions about baptism & display it prominently throughout the church and in communications.

 

In Louisiana, Baptisms are actually slightly up over the last three years, but are down from an all-time high of 14,193 in 1994. 2016 is a VERY different world than 1994. 1994, was pre-netflix, pre-facebook, pre-email world where Billy Graham could still be seen on TV regularly. Intentionality, cultivation, consistent & deliberate action is needed to evangelize our communities.

You CAN do something today!

 

Hot Summer Outreach Ideas

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9 Ways to Reach Out, Serve, & Make Connections this Summer

Along with Vacation Bible School, summer offers us some great opportunities for outreach, servant evangelism, & gospel seed planting in our communities. Here’s a few that I’ve tried or learned from other Louisiana churches:

1. Water Bottles for Front Yard Lawn Mowers

Fill a few ice chest full of ice cold water or Gatorade, then head out on Saturday morning & watch for people working in their front yard. Interrupt them by giving them a bottle & a small connection card to your church. I promise they won’t mind. This is also great to do before church on Sunday!

2. Face Painting or Balloon Animals at Local Festivals

Every Louisiana community has a festival, car show, farmers market or something. Add to the gathering by offering something fun for kids. Face Painting is easy for almost anyone. Poll your team for other talents that might be unique & entertaining. Don’t forget to have invite cards to your church or Bible Study.

3. Fun for Kids at Multi-Housing Complexes

If you haven’t already, you should get to know the managers at local multi-housing complexes. They’re often required by upper management to provide events for the park & in my experience they are stressed about that! Offer to help by extending a VBS activity or showing up with a snow cone machine or bounce house a few times over the summer. Great way to build some relationships & show the community your church cares.

4. Snow Cones at Local Daycare’s

Private daycare’s are usually very open to engagement with churches. Especially if you offer free snow cones for every child in the afternoon! Snow cone machines rent for $100 or so, check around to see if another local church has one, or if you’re part of a Baptist Association, they may have a block party trailer equipped with a snow cone machine plus. Ask the daycare if they’ll send home an invite card or event invite from your church in backpacks in return.

5. Outdoor Movie Nights

Pick an area park, backyard, subdivision common space, & a short movie. Outdoor movie screens can be purchased for around $200. Projectors are available from partner churches or your local association. Pop popcorn & show the latest family friendly movie that has come out in theaters & a crowd is usually easy to draw. Our church gives away microwave popcorn with a sticker that says “Pop In On Us Sunday” inviting people to our church.

6. New Resident Welcome Baskets

If families are relocating, chances are they’re trying to do it during the summer. Help your members get their eyes open for the houses for sale around them & watch for new people moving in. Prepare a welcome basket with things that would be helpful for new movers & new residents in your community, along with a connection card from your church.. This also helps your members to make early connections & build relationships with their new neighbors.

7. Hurricane Prep for Local Mobile Home Parks

Great men’s group project. Connect with a local trailer park & offer to cut low hanging limbs back away from trailers in the run up to Hurricane season. This is a great service to residents & management that will never be forgotten. Pole saws rent for $125 or so & probably at least one guy in your group has a chainsaw.

8. Free Movie Day for Stay at Home Moms with Kids

Turn your church or a local meeting hall into a free cinema for the afternoon. Show a favorite kid movie with popcorn & box drinks. There’s probably a local mom’s Facebook group that you can spread the word through.

9. Outdoor Summer Concert

If your church or community has a nice green space, find a local musician or band (no shortage of those in Louisiana) & throw a free sunset concert. Offer free drinks & invite cards to your churches gathering.

There’s really no right or wrong way to reach out & make contact with people for the sake of the Gospel. We only fail, if we don’t try. Praying for many seeds sown across our state this Summer!

Got other ideas for summer outreach? Don’t be stingy. Please share.

Your Church Can Grow This Summer!

Last year our small church actually grew by 30% between Memorial Day & the first day of school. Here’s what we did that helped us beat the summer slump. And it does not even include VBS!

1. Celebrate Summer

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Memorial Day Outdoor Worship Gathering on the River in Madisonville.

There are at least four great opportunities already on the calendar to build in celebration over the summer: Memorial Day Weekend, Father’s Day, Fourth of July Weekend, & Back to School. Plan on doing something special & unique for each of these weekends. These four Sunday’s were the highest attended weeks of the summer for our church. Sure, some people went out of town, but we made each a special opportunity for people to invite unchurched family & friends & we reached out to each prospect with a special invite. The guests made up for the vacationers. Make the most of the holiday weekends!

2. Break the Routine

When summer comes around, everyone is thinking, “I need a break,” including your church’s teachers & volunteers. Structuring the calendar in such a way that gives some relief to hard working volunteers will help them stay enthused about their teams work all summer. It also builds in the expectation that volunteers will be out of town in such a way that momentum is not lost & relationships are not strained. Our kids ministry combined classes for special days several times & our holiday celebrations were planned in such a way that kids volunteers & setup crews had those weeks practically off.

3. Get Outside

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4th of July Weekend Worship Gathering at an area State Park.

For Memorial Day & Fourth of July, we held our Worship Gatherings at some of our communities favorite outdoor venues. Every community has a park, picnic area, lake area, etc. where people like to gather & hang out. Incorporate cooking out, fishing, games, water slides, etc. & you’ve got a crowd. Share the gospel clearly & gather info from visitors. And depending on the location, you may can even maximize the hearing of the Gospel with people that show up not knowing that a church would be meeting there that day. Everybody loves being outside in Louisiana & in our case, outdoor worship gatherings have been a great tool for connecting new people to our church.

4. Connect New People

Of course, sustainable growth depends upon the systems you have to connect people to Christ, to one another, & to a mission greater than themselves. Plan for new people by continuing or starting a new comers class & by having special opportunities for connections with small groups throughout the summer. Also, keep in mind, if new families are relocating to your area, it will likely be during the summer. Make your gatherings accessible to new people in the community & plan on helping them feel welcomed & help them make meaningful connections. Our Connections Team prepares New Resident Welcome Baskets for people to give to new people moving into their neighborhoods throughout the summer.

Summer is a great time to grow things. Churches included. Celebrate. Have fun. Get outside. Get ready for new people. Expect God to bring an increase.

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Father’s Day Pancake Breakfast. All you can eat pancakes right through the sermon! Yea!

Things Pastors of Evangelistic Churches Say

This week, I had the opportunity to facilitate a Breakout at the Louisiana Baptists Evangelism Conference with three men that lead churches with great Evangelistic culture in Louisiana. Jacob Crawford – Life Point Mansura, Willis Easley – Christ’s Community Denham Springs, & Checkerz Williams – Celebration LaPlace. (See my previous post for a bit of bio on them & their churches). These churches are responsible for 100’s of baptisms each year. We threw out several questions designed to just get them talking, so that we could glean insights & be inspired. These men had never met each other before this conference, but it was interesting to hear how many of the same things came out of their mouths related to creating an evangelistic culture. Here’s some things they said over & over that have stuck with me:

“It’s about casting vision.”

Checkerz Williams said he uses the statement “Can you imagine what our community would be like if…?” to get people to see the possibilities.

“We teach people, ‘It’s not about you.'”

Willis Easley said at least monthly they tell people to turn to the person next to you & say “It’s not about you.” And interestingly enough the other two churches do the same thing!

“Our church looks like our community.”

Life Point is 60% white, 40% African-American, which matches the demographics of the community it is in. Celebration LaPlace is 55% African-American, 35% white, 10% Hispanic, which matches the demographics of the community it is in. Each of these churches are diverse, multi-ethnic churches. A lot of people talk about diversity & multi-ethnic ministry, but what I’m learning is that diversity & multi-ethnic church development is a product of an evangelistic culture.

“We share the Gospel at every gathering.”

Each church makes the gospel an important part of every service. Jacob Crawford said, “Never assume that everyone believes. Assume the opposite & share the gospel.” And these leaders go out of the way to share the gospel in ways that are reproducible & easily picked up by others. Willis Easley says, He uses the Roman Road EVERY time he shares the gospel from the Pulpit, because it’s easily picked up by others.

“We love people to Christ.”

Service & outreach to the community is of course a major part of the ministries of each of these churches. Christ’s Community & Celebration Church both sponsor a big day of service at least annually, where everyone takes on outreach & evangelism projects together.

“We started an additional service to reach more people.”

Each of these churches have started multiple services to add capacity for reaching new people for Christ.

“We encourage people to pray for friends that are not believers.”

Each of these churches have a system in place for people to identify people in their relational network who are without Christ & pray for them. For Celebration it’s the FRAN list – Friends, Relatives, Associates, Neighbors. For Christ’s Church it’s called the High 5’s.

“We network with community leaders.”

Being involved in the community is important to each of these churches. “Building bridges not barriers” – Checkerz Williams.

“We baptize people that become believers quickly.”

Baptisms are down across the Southern Baptist Convention, so I was very curious as to what the process these churches have for baptism. Each said they baptize people very soon after they make a decision. Checkerz Williams says their baptistry at Celebration LaPlace is ALWAYS full & ready. Ushers at Life Point show up early & ask every Sunday, “How many do we have today?” in reference to baptisms. Their is an attitude of expectancy in these churches that people will be getting saved, so lets get ready to baptize them.

“We equip & train members of the church to do the work of evangelism.”

It was clear that for these men, their role is to equip the people & groups to do evangelism. So, from modeling, to training, to keying on reproducible processes, the desire is for the entire church to own evangelism of the lost community.

Great conversation. What do you need to add to your vocabulary this year related to your church’s culture? These sayings will be a great start.

Here’s a few other great quotes from our session:

  • Willis Easley – “When I saw that we had only baptized 5 or 6 in a year, I got alone with God, & said, ‘Lord, we’re not doing what you called us to do.'”
  • Jacob Crawford – “We cast a vision for community transformation. Avoyelles Parish’s suicide rate is similar to North Korea. We teach people that only Jesus can fix this.”
  • Checkerz Williams – “Our Baptistry stays full. We talk about it every Sunday. Once per year we do a Baptism emphasis. You’ve got to keep it in front of people.”
  • Willis Easley – “If you’re not sharing the gospel with lost people, you won’t be baptizing many people.”
  • Willis Easley – “Southern Baptist have been trying to harvest in fields in which we haven’t sown.”
  • Jacob Crawford – “The biggest obstacle to evangelism in our church was ME, the Pastor. I had to get out of the way & equip the members to do the work of the ministry.”
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Left to Right: Jacob Crawford, Checkerz Williams, Willis Easley.

Outreach Idea: Christmas Eve Stocking Giveaway

Christmas is about a BIG GIVEAWAY! God gave away his very best so that others could know Him & have Eternal Life (John 3:16). This year, Bridge Church took on a BIG GIVE in order to help others know God & have eternal Life. We set out to give a  stocking to EVERY MULTI-HOUSING RESIDENT in Covington on Christmas Eve! Great project that any church can take on! 

Here’s what we put in the Stockings:

  • A copy of The Value of A Soul, this year’s My Hope DVD from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. $1 per. Three great testimonies from real people on how life In Christ impacted them. 
  • The Living in Christ Book from My Hope with Billy Graham. $1 per. Includes how to begin a relationship with God, 4-part study on beginning the Christian life, & the Gospel of John.
  • Christmas Candy & Goodies. (Most of this was left over from our rained out Trunk or Treat. Ha!)
  • Some type of small family game. Like a deck of cards or mini board game or puzzle. $1-$2 at local dollar stores.
  • Fresh fruit purchased at a local fruit stand. $35 per case.
  • A few packs of Hot Chocolate. $.10 each at Sam’s Club.
  • Invite to our church & an area Bible Study.

We knocked on each door & said “Merry Christmas from Bridge Church!” & asked if there was anything we could pray for them about. Great conversations. Loved serving with my family & other on mission believers from our church on Christmas Eve. With great participation we were done by noon. We even had some leftovers that we were able to deliver to area Fire Stations. Probably touched over 500 people on Christmas Eve.

Hope you’ll pick a multi-housing complex or a neighborhood & tackle a BIG GIVE project next Christmas!

A Few Simple Holiday Outreach Ideas

Yesterday our church kicked off Advent with a number of simple service projects that any church, small group, family, or individual can afford. These make a big impact with a small investment of time & money.

1. Gift cards for ICU Waiting Rooms. At any given time in your community there are people reeling from traumatic events or devastating illness. Their families can be found in waiting rooms at your local hospital. Pick up a handful of Gift Cards to the closest restaurants & coffee shops, drop by & give them out with a “Praying for You” card from your church. Offer to pray for anyone you get to talk with. Simple act of kindness can breathe life into someone that is overwhelmed with bad news. If no one is there, give them to the nurses desk & they’ll pass them out for you. These nurses could also use prayer & encouragement. Call ahead & find out when visiting times are so that you know when people are in the waiting rooms. $100 for 5-10 gift cards.

IMG_56232. Care packages for the Homeless. If you live in a metro area or near the interstate, you probably get an invitation to serve the homeless everyday at area red lights. Should I give them money? is a constant question. Few of us carry cash anymore. Doing nothing is not desirous for most believers. How about make up some simple care packages with some goodies that that can be passed out the window of a car. Keep 3-5 in your car at all times. $10 per bag.

3. Christmas Decor for Nursing Home Residents. Go to your local nursing home & ask for a list of residents with no local family. The reality for these residents is often few visits if any, few seasonal decorations for their walls, few convenient items like warm socks or lotion. Offer to pray for them. Find out what they want or need & plan a return visit. Spend some time listening to their story. Yesterday, some of our team got to meet a lady who was 105 years old! Incredible story. $25 for a few Christmas decorations & simple cards colored by kids.

IMG_57214. Fruit baskets for Elderly shut-ins. Local shut-ins are lonely. They often feel trapped. They often have simple to-do’s around their home that can be taken care of in less than an hour. Making up fruit baskets to deliver to them gives you a reason to encourage them with a visit & find out other needs that your faith community can take care of on their behalf.  $25 for a bowl or basket & fruit & other goodies to go int them.

All day I’ve been hearing stories from those who delivered these items to people in our community. Simple acts of kindness make a big difference & the holidays offer many opportunities for us to extend kindness & plant seeds in the hearts of people in need.

What other similar outreach ideas have you or your church done at Christmas?

 

 

 

#Outreach Idea: Gift Baskets for Teacher’s Lounges

We often hear laments about churches not being able to “get into the schools.” Most of the time, we’re trying to get in on our terms instead of thinking of ways to be a blessing (see Matthew 5:16, Philippians 2:3-4). We found one way that is enthusiastically accepted 100% of the time at our local schools: stuffing gift baskets full of goodies for teacher’s lounges at the beginning of the school year, holidays, & end of school. Snacks, healthy & not so healthy. Homemade baked goods. Office supplies & teacher gear. And always with a note of encouragement.

What are other ways that you or your church have been a blessing to your local schools?

WHAT IF every teachers lounge was filled with encouragement from local churches all year long?

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