It’s easy to create church outreach programs. Just plan the details and add it to the church calendar.
It’s more challenging—and needful—to pastorally cultivate a church culture that prioritizes compassionate gospel outreach to unsaved people.
So often, the disconnect in a church between the stated value of “consistent gospel outreach” and members who are actively involved in witnessing to the lost is one word: compassion. If we care for the lost the way Jesus did, it reorders our priorities and compels us to proactively engage in outreach—scheduled and organic.So often, the disconnect in a church between the stated value of *consistent gospel outreach* and members who are actively involved in witnessing to the lost is one word: compassion. Click To Tweet
So, how can pastors and church leaders cultivate this spirit of compassion throughout a congregation? How can you cultivate this in your own life?
Here are five ways to prayerfully incorporate on a regular basis. These five are also great to emphasize as you come into a new season of church outreach.
1. Bible preaching
Why do we need compassion? Why do we consider it our Christian duty to share the gospel with the lost? Because the Bible says so! Messages from the great evangelism passages of the Bible—from Jesus with the woman at the well to Philip with the Ethiopian eunuch, to Paul’s declaration that we are ambassadors for Christ—stir our hearts to make Christ’s last command our first priority.
Bible preaching is essential to cultivating a culture of compassion within a church family. Click To Tweet
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:19–20)
2. Gospel singing
Songs that emphasize God’s grace in our own salvation encourage us to remember the significance of the moment we were saved. (“Heaven Came Down and Glory Filled My Soul,” “Jesus Paid It All,” and “At Calvary” are a few.) And songs that emphasize the responsibility of the Great Commission and the needs of lost people around us (such as “Rescue the Perishing” and “So Little Time”) help focus our hearts on a world in need of a Savior.
Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. (John 4:35)
3. Salvation testimonies
There’s something about hearing how God has used gospel outreach to reach others that stirs our faith that God could use our efforts as well. To hear how God used a single tract or simple invitation to change a person’s eternal destiny is so encouraging. Look for opportunities to incorporate testimonies from people who came to Christ through someone else’s witness. You might ask someone to share a testimony in a public service (live or as a prerecorded video), or you might share such testimonies in your preaching and teaching.
To hear how God used a single tract or simple invitation to change a person’s eternal destiny can encourage others to participate in outreach. Click To Tweet
Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad… (Acts 11:22–23)
4. Careful preparation
If you want to encourage people to participate in an organized outreach program, make sure the program is actually organized.
If you want to encourage people to participate in an organized outreach program, make sure the program is actually organized. Click To Tweet
And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two… (Mark 6:7)
It’s a discouraging destraction for a church member who has chosen to set aside his Thursday evening or Saturday morning for outreach, only to arrive and find out that he has actually set aside his time for you to track down supplies and addresses. Have everything ready ahead, including tracts, specific visits or areas to canvas, and clear instructions. (For more practical help on organizing a church outreach program, see chapter 12 of the book Out of Commission.)
5. Fervent prayer
This is really where the process of growing in compassion should start and end. Pray personally, and pray with those you mentor in outreach.
Personally, ask the Lord for a true heart burden for the lost. Ask Him to give you His compassion and to see people as souls—not as interruptions or inconveniences. Pray for specific people you have witnessed to in the past. (See this post on prayer as part of your prospect list.) Pray for opportunities throughout every day to witness and for open doors and hearts during times of scheduled outreach.
And as you bring a partner along with you for a time of outreach, pray together for God’s power and the filling of the Holy Spirit. Pray that you would both have the very compassion of Christ as you seek to engage people with the message of the gospel.
But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)
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