We’re likely to think of evangelism only as introducing people to Jesus who don’t yet know him. When the word evangelism comes up it should also encompass the ideas of reintroducing Jesus and his Church to those who were once believers, and finding creative ways to make it possible for those who are still his followers to once again participate in his Body.
Life circumstances can cause people to, intentionally or unintentionally, be distanced from Jesus and his Body. Events such as moving and not reconnecting to a new congregation, a bad experience in a former church, becoming indigent, suddenly single or having a close relationship with someone who doesn’t know Jesus can contribute to people becoming inactive in a congregation. Some people have to deal with circumstances they have little control over such as a person becoming physically or mentally incapacitated, having a lack of transportation or working on weekends.
There aren’t any congregations or fellowships in Seattle Presbytery that can’t participate in some variety of an evangelistic outreach to people who, for whatever reason, have drifted away. We do need to remember that the goal is to present opportunities for people to have a continuing and growing relationship as a disciple of Christ, rather than to just enhance or enlarge the fellowship we presently attend.
Keeping an open mind as to how we as individual Christians and congregations can participate in fulfilling Christ’s call enables us to be more creative than we might otherwise be. There are a great many ways to go about helping people to reconnect with Christ, but only a few will be included here.
Add a service
We’re very blessed to have an abundance of resources in the Seattle area to make additional services available where and when they’re needed. In addition to the many church buildings already in operation that can volunteer their facilities, we also have other important resources that are already available. Some of these include Seattle Presbytery’s large roster of Candidates and Inquirers, several first rate seminaries with students yearning to serve, capable elders and deacons in our congregations and quite a few retired pastors who are competent and may be interested in continuing their call to serve God’s people.
Because we already have the necessary resources, providing additional worship opportunities needn’t be an overwhelming venture. It’s also reasonable to assume that not all new groups would require ongoing oversight. As time progresses the people involved in the new service would take the responsibility for it.
An additional service can, but need not replicate the complexity or style of what happens in your or other churches, on Sunday morning. Not all worship needs to take place in a church building or to happen once a week. Nor does it require a crowd. The only firm requirement is that the worship is directed to God.
Depending on when it takes place, a new service could help those who work on weekends, people who want to sleep in or have kids who do various activities on Sunday. Early morning and early evening services during the week give people a chance to attend before or after their workday. A daytime service during the week gives seniors and others who are home an opportunity for worship and fellowship when public transportation is most frequent.
A visit to shut-ins in the neighborhood once a month to share Communion might involve the use of some form of technology that could bring together two or more households that are also receiving a visit in order to enhance the sense of Christian community among neighbors.
Several congregations in relatively close physical proximity could work together in a new outreach so the effort is shared and the number of potential participants is increased.
People in the congregation and old records are a source for the names of people who no longer attend. Phone calls and visits by church members can open up possibilities for renewed interest. Many older people can be included in the congregation again if pastoral care, transportation and an invitation that lets them know they’re needed and wanted is extended.
Being needed and wanted is a very important consideration and draw for people of any age. The partner who isn’t a believer can be included in a church community by giving them an opportunity to participate in the mission programs in addition to the fellowship programs. It’s important here to be respectful of people’s choices and to include others without having personal agendas.
Mission programs can be an entry point for people. Consider having an article, or a paid advertisement, about a mission program or mission event in a newspaper that includes an invitation to those not involved in a congregation. There are people who would appreciate an opportunity to serve who might welcome an official invitation.
In 2004 Great Britain held it’s first “Back to Church Sunday”. The event was so successful that it’s grown to be a worldwide event that’s held one Sunday in September each year. These events include denominations and churches from one end of the theological spectrum to the other. Take a look at this website to learn more,www.backtochurch.co.uk
It’s clear from how successful this has been that many people would welcome opportunities to reconnect with Christ and his people. Of course, some may not even be aware that they’d welcome a new beginning or a reconnection. We’ve been given the job of letting them know that they could by bringing it to their attention. We don’t have to wait for a particular day each year to do it though.
Be a Contributor
Talk to the Lord about your part in this outreach. Talk to each other casually then get organized and share ideas, questions, pipe dreams, potential plans. If want to exchange information or would like support as you develop plans feel free to contact us. (firstname.lastname@example.org (425)775-8832)
Evangelism Team Co-Coordinators,
Leslie Fox & Maxine Neel