When Terrie and I moved to Lancaster over thirty years ago, I began an eighteen-month season of intense personal outreach. Every week, I would knock on no less than five hundred doors personally with a church invitation and a purpose to share the gospel at the door.
But my goal was not to personally evangelize the Antelope Valley. My goal was to lead Lancaster Baptist Church in reaching our community with the gospel.
One of the ways we do this is through special outreach times, such as Christmas, Easter, and Open House Sunday. Our obedience to the Great Commission, however should be consistent year round.
As a pastor, here are some of the ways I have endeavored to lead our church in consistent soulwinning and outreach.
- Preach about the command and need. I regularly preach on the priority of our obedience to the Great Commission as a church. I highlight the need of the people of our community to hear the gospel from compassionate Christians.
- Have two soulwinning kickoffs per year. For the past thirty years, we have had soulwinning kickoffs for which we invited the entire church family to sign up or resign up for weekly outreach and a new soulwinning partner. Signups are usually offered over a two or three week period in the adult Bible classes, and the new season with new partners begins on a specific week at the regularly scheduled soulwinning meetings. This is a tremendous time to encourage new members to get involved as well as to encourage long-term members to stay faithful.
- Offer multiple times and places to meet. A Thursday evening soulwinning may work for some people, but it may not for others. At Lancaster Baptist, we have weekly soulwinning opportunities on Thursday morning, Thursday evening, and Saturday morning. Additionally, we have split our Thursday evening meetings into four locations to be nearer to where soulwinners live. We organize our visits around these locations as well. (This is the premise of the 4Outreach program.)
- Provide different types of calls. At each soulwinning meeting, we have maps of our community with specific streets highlighted as well as visits for new move ins, recent guests, prospects people in our church have given, and absentee visits. These are all organized by a church secretary into baskets for each adult Bible class.
- Specifically ask new members to participate. This may sound obvious, but it’s crucial. Publically announce soulwinning opportunities and an upcoming kickoff, yes. But many people need someone to personally ask them, “Will you come soulwinning with me this Thursday night?” Or “Would you sign up for the soulwinning kickoff? We’ll get you a partner who will teach you how to lead someone to Christ.”
- Create service opportunities. Provide a variety of ways throughout the year for soulwinners to serve your community with gospel intent. (In other words, we’re not talking about a social gospel, but about gaining the community’s ear to speak of Jesus.) We’ve done community-wide events such as Love Works or our church choir singing for our city’s Christmas program. This fall, our teens served meals after practice to athletic teams at local high schools. In all of these, we’ve seen people saved through them.
- Set an example. I mentioned earlier that I used to knock on five hundred doors each week. I don’t go full-time, five days a week anymore due to increased pastoral responsibilities. But I still go regularly. And I believe it is important for our church family to know that I do. Our deacons and staff (including school and college faculty), children’s teachers, and adult Bible class leaders are also faithful in coming to regularly-scheduled times of outreach.
Remember that one of your main responsibilities as a pastor is to equip your church family in the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11–12). Although you are as personally responsible to obey the Great Commission as any other Christian, you are also responsible to lead your church family in obeying Christ’s command as a church.