The Many Faces
Outreach = Reaching Out
by Daryl Grimes
What do a coin collector, housewife, neighborhood watch member, telemarketer, former outlaw biker, homeschool mom, landscaper, antique dealer, grieving daughter, furniture salesman, retiree, great-grandmother, fuel purchaser, former pastor, college student, fast-food worker, dollar store shopper, and a former cult member have in common?
Actually, more than you might think!
Each of these “titles” represents someone with an eternal soul. Each individual represents a person for whom Christ died. And each of these people began attending Flagship Free Will Baptist Church because someone cared enough about them to reach out. As church planters in Erie, Pennsylvania, we have tried many different methods to meet and reach out to people. And each person listed above probably represents someone in your hometown who either needs to know Christ or needs to be part of a loving, nurturing church family.
It is easy for an established church to develop a lukewarm attitude toward the lost in their community. It can become easy to maintain the status quo when the building is 70% full, and all the bills are paid. But whether you are planting a new church or a member of one that has been around for more than a century, you must remember that Christ came to seek and save the lost. He has saved us to be His ambassadors in a lost and dying world.
I encourage established churches and church plants alike to find new ways to plant the seed of the gospel. A church needs to be visible in the community and involved in the lives of others. Sharing the love that demonstrates we are Christ followers may very well give us a platform from which to share the gospel to a receptive audience.
How are we reaching out to the people of Erie? We met the people mentioned at the beginning of the article through casual conversations, distributing invitations and tracts, being involved in the community, and by canvassing the area around the church. Many responded to an invitation to visit our church simply because someone took time to strike up a conversation and hand them an invitation.
Another method of outreach to our community involved setting up a booth in Erie’s Rib Fest, which attracts thousands of people. Over four days, we shared the gospel hundreds of times, and as a result, we added 120 people to our mailing list. Though we haven’t seen immediate fruit, we planted the seeds of the gospel, and we are praying that God will give the increase.
It is unfortunate that many people downplay the effectiveness of handing out tracts and going door-to-door. Nothing takes the place of one-on-one, Great Commission evangelism and discipleship, and going door-to-door often produces contacts with whom such relationships can be developed. While door-to-door evangelism is not the only method of outreach, neither should it be discarded as “out of date.” Many people will be in Heaven because someone took time to leave a tract, share an invitation, or visit their home. A couple that recently made a profession of faith began attending our church because someone left a simple invitation on their door. Someone decided they would take the time to reach out.
Will you be such a person in your community? Will you lay aside excuses and take God’s call to be His ambassador seriously? Will you be involved in outreach by reaching beyond your comfort zone, saying no to self and yes to the Spirit’s prompting? Just remember, when it comes to sharing your faith, outreach = reaching out.
About the Writer: Daryl and Michelle Grimes are planting Flagship FWB Church in Erie, Pennsylvania. Erie is the fourth largest city in the state, with a large segment of residents claiming no religious affiliation. Learn more: FlagshipChurch.org