This Sunday will be our church’s twenty-ninth Open House Sunday. Much work has already gone into every aspect of this day. From hours of prayer and preparation for the gospel message I will preach to the dinner for our guests, to the 1,001 other details of the service and hosting guests—we are not entering this day unprepared!
But there is more to preparing for an Open House Sunday (or “Friend Day,” “Christmas musical,” or any other Sunday with an evangelistic emphasis) than the elements of what actually happens on that day. There is the cultivating relationships and engaging in the work of soulwinning.
Jesus commanded us, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). “All the world” surely includes our immediate neighborhoods and the communities in which we live!
Below are ten suggestions for how you—whether you are the pastor or a lay person—can use a special outreach Sunday at your church to reach people for Christ.
- Pray daily for souls. Every day, ask the Lord to give you opportunities to witness and to go before you to prepare and convict hearts.
- Pray for God’s power. The Holy Spirit is the real Soulwinner. Ask Him to fill you and to empower your efforts to reach people with the gospel.
- Obey every impulse of the Holy Spirit. As important as it is to schedule time for soulwinning, the Holy Spirit doesn’t work in hearts only on Saturday mornings and only on the specific street you are canvassing! Be sensitive and spontaneous when He prompts you to speak to someone, and be ready with gospel tracts and printed invitations to the upcoming special event.
- Set goals. Write down names of those you want to invite, and begin checking them off as you make phone calls, send emails, or stop by to visit. Additionally, I would encourage you to set goals for how many doors you want to knock on with the purpose of soulwinning and inviting the community in the weeks leading up to the event, and share your goals with a friend for accountability.
- Give the gospel. Although you are inviting people to a special event at church, seize the opportunity (especially when out doorknocking) to speak to them about salvation as well. I treat this canvassing in the same way as any other doorknocking—I’m not just inviting people to church, but I’m looking for a chance to share the gospel with them. If the timing isn’t right, I don’t push it, but I do look for opportunities.
- Train your partner. If you are an experienced soulwinner, the evangelistic emphasis in preparing for a special event is a wonderful time to train your soulwinning partner. Because I schedule extra time for soulwinning before special events, I find it a good time to invite multiple people to come with me in a given week, providing additional opportunities for soulwinning training.
- Cultivate your prospect list. When you’re at someone’s doorstep and they indicate they may come to church for the special event, graciously press for a commitment. Give them your phone number and ask for theirs so you can call the day before to remind them. Jot down their address, and send them a card a few days later. Work to cultivate your prospect list with as great care as a salesman would use to cultivate his prospective sales list—only for a far greater purpose. (As an additional note, special events are also a great time to review your prospect list and follow up on old contacts.)
- Ask your partner for the names of his friends. Prompt each other to think of friends or acquaintances either of you should be inviting. If you are training a young Christian, he may want you to go with him to give out the invitations.
- Make Saturday night calls. Late afternoon or early evening before the special day, call through your prospect list to remind folks that you’re looking forward to seeing them on Sunday. This takes only a few minutes, but it goes a long way toward bringing a prospect to church. (You might send them a reminder email on Friday or Saturday as well.)
- Expect great blessings from God. William Carey famously said, “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.” There is nothing greater than bringing souls to Christ, and you’ve spent weeks attempting the great. Now it is time to pray and expect God to work!