When I came to Lancaster, California, I had one goal in mind—reach this community with the gospel of Jesus Christ! Every pastor or leader in ministry that I know has the same goal. You want to reach your community with the gospel.
So how should you do it? It’s a big task for sure, but the short answer is “in as many ways as you can!”
In other words, you want to saturate and engage your community with the gospel. The Apostle Paul did that “publickly, and from house to house” (Acts 20:20), and I believe a strategy that involves both is important.
Here are five ways we have found effective to engage our community with the gospel:
1. Door-to-Door Soulwinning
For twenty-eight years, door-to-door soulwinning has been our primary way of strategically getting the gospel to every home in our community. We’ve mapped out our community down to every individual street, and we’ve assigned areas to adult Sunday school classes in our church. Each year, soulwinners knock on every door a minimum of three times.
Through door-to-door soulwinning, we see many salvations every year. And we work tenaciously to follow up on each one of these for baptism and spiritual growth.
(In the book Out of Commission I give a detailed explanation of how we organize our door-to-door soulwinning and follow up.)
2. Acts of Service
The old adage is true, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” People in your community need to know that your church cares.
We began to implement gospel-orientated acts of service in a big way about a year ago with our Love Works initiative. Additionally, we’ve done things from free single mom oil changes to Christmas concerts on our town boulevard. In these acts of service, we present the gospel and/or an invitation to church. In each church-wide effort, we have seen people saved.
3. Evangelistic Events
Several times a year, we host special events at our church with a focused emphasis on presenting the gospel to unsaved guests. This would include Easter and Christmas musicals, Friend Day, First Responders Appreciation Day, and—coming up this week for us—Open House Sunday.
These events actually combine the efforts of door-to-door soulwinning with a special event because many of the people who come do so as a response to an invitation at their doorstep. (Through the emphasized doorknocking prior to a special event, soulwinners present the gospel whenever they can—as normal—and lead people to the Lord.) But it also allows for a great opportunity for church members to invite a neighbor, family member, or coworker to a specific Sunday at church.
People today take in much information through media—online and print. I want the gospel and our gospel-preaching church to be included in what they take in. Practically speaking, what does this mean?
At the most basic level, it means that you write your church website content with the unsaved person from your community in mind. Think of your website as the sign in front of your church because many people will check out your website before they’ll ever set foot in your doors. Make your website welcoming and informative.
Additionally, use other forms of media to get the word out about your church—billboards and community newsletters are both excellent ways to let your community know that you are there for them.
Frankly, there are some people in a community that you will only reach through developing a personal relationship with them. Relationships take time to build.
The average pastoral tenure is less than four years. If every four years you’re moving to a new community, you are losing opportunities to engage the previous community with the gospel.
If you are presently in a difficult situation where you are questioning resigning and moving to a new church, I’d encourage you to remember that there are benefits to longevity in a church and a community that you will only understand by staying.
Maximize the Impact
By using every available means to engage your community with the gospel, you maximize the impact of every effort.
For instance, next Sunday our church is hosting an Open House Sunday (evangelistic event). In preparation, our church family is making extra effort in doorknocking and planning to cover every one of the 75,000 homes in our community over the next seven days (door-to-door soulwinning). Last week, our church touched over 10,000 lives with Love Works projects (acts of service). Over recent weeks, we’ve advertised locally and updated our website for the Open House (media). Finally, this is our twenty-ninth Open House in Lancaster, so people who have lived in our community for years actually expect to be invited (longevity).
The message of the gospel which has been committed to our trust (1 Timothy 1:11) is too important to only share haphazardly or as it is convenient. Seek every biblically sound means you can to engage your community with the message they need to hear and receive.