Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Friday, July 21, 2017
By Jonathan Howe
Outreach events for churches can be predictable in the fall. Your church likely has a back-to-school event for kids, a fifth quarter for students, and a fall festival for families already on the calendar. It’s just what churches do.
But what if you tried something else—maybe something with an intentional evangelistic focus that your community might not expect? These ten outreach ideas will allow your church to be noticed in your community and, most importantly, provide your members with several opportunities for gospel conversations.
1. Sponsor a booth at the county/state fair. County fairs are a big deal in our part of Tennessee. And the fair in my county, Wilson County, is the biggest of deals. Several churches from the area sponsor booths at the fair and provide free face painting or even henna tattoos as a means for gospel conversations. The key is to be strategic with your booth and to train your workers in gospel conversations.
2. Wear church t-shirts to a local event. This could be related to the previous item or a few others in this list. Having your church members wear church t-shirts to a specific event—especially one at which your church is serving—can raise awareness of the church.
3. Host a hunting season event for men. The start of hunting season is a major event for men from all over. Consider hosting a kickoff event for hunting season with a men’s dinner and have the men in your church invite their friends. You can use this as a catalyst to launching new small groups as well.
4. Honor first responders in a worship service. In the US, September 11 is designated as Patriot Day and many communities honor first responders. Your church could invite and provide a breakfast for all first responders then briefly recognize them in the worship service.
5. Sponsor a breakfast for teachers at a local school. School starts in just 11 days here in Tennessee, but other school systems will be starting up shortly as well. Use the new school year as an opportunity to minister to local teachers, administrators, aides, bus drivers, and staff.
6. Staff the concession stand at a local park or stadium. Want your church more involved in the community? Then be where the community is. And in many communities, that’s the local football games on Friday nights. What if your church staffed the concession stand at the local games? Or maybe you can staff the local kids’ sports stadium or park. Parents will appreciate the service, and your presence will likely result in gospel conversations and invites to church worship services.
7. Coordinate a community outreach day through your small groups. Pick a Saturday or Sunday afternoon for all small groups to participate in a community outreach event. If you provide a list of projects to the groups, they can choose the project that fits their group the best.
8. Hold a family movie night on the church lawn. Autumn evenings tend to get dark earlier and the weather can be quite nice. Consider having a movie night on the church lawn and encourage families to invite their neighbors and friends. Provide water and popcorn and you’re sure to have a great event that families will enjoy.
9. Host an Invite Your One day. We’ve been blown away by the response we’ve seen from churches who’ve hosted Invite Your One days. The fall is a great time to host these events, and they can be great catalysts for creating an atmosphere of inviting in your church.
10. Set a gospel conversation goal for your church and provide training. In all of these outreach events, make evangelism a clear focus for the event. The gospel conversations that can result from these intentional outreach events can be a major catalyst for growth and revitalization in your church. But this will only happen if your church members are trained and intentional. So set a goal, train your members, and provide the opportunities for gospel conversations to happen.
These are just 10 examples. What else would you add to this list? Does your church already do some of these?
Jonathan Howe serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources as well as the host and producer of Rainer on Leadership and SBC This Week. Jonathan writes weekly at ThomRainer.com on topics ranging from social media to websites and church communications. Connect with Jonathan on Twitter at @Jonathan_Howe.
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
Monday, July 17, 2017
Friday, July 14, 2017
The calendar says July, but many of us already have fall Bible study in mind. What will your group study? How can you be sure the group is meaningful? Will women be vulnerable or closed off? What about snacks?
Wednesday, July 12, 2017
By Aaron Earls
New research undermines an often-repeated statistic about church decline, but still reveals a difficult situation for Southern Baptist churches -- and an opportunity to encourage more Gospel conversations.
On his website, LifeWay President and CEO Thom S. Rainer has published findings from research of 1,000 randomly selected Southern Baptist churches, including challenging the idea that 80 percent of churches are either plateaued or declining. The new findings are based on analysis of Annual Church Profile data from 2013 and 2016.
Unfortunately, the research doesn't give a much better picture, Rainer reports. His analysis found around 65 percent of churches are stalled or are shrinking.
"The evangelistic deterioration within churches across North America has been a reality for several decades. This is not new information," Rainer said, "but we wanted to find out the degree of the deterioration."
Even among the 35 percent of churches that are growing, the signs are not all positive.
"Growing churches are primarily growing through transfer growth," he said. "If we look at which churches are actually healthy from an evangelistic perspective, it's only about 6 or 7 out of 100."
Rainer will continue to release new information on his website, ThomRainer.com, including insights into those 6-7 percent of churches that have been effective at evangelizing their communities.
Escaping the 'death spiral'
His analysis points specifically to worrying signs for smaller congregations.
"Over 61 percent of churches average fewer than 100 in worship attendance," he said. "But, 2 out of 3 of these churches are declining."
As a former small-church pastor, Rainer said he's troubled by the findings, which point to what he calls a "death spiral" for churches that dip below 100 in worship attendance. The research shows churches decline at a faster rate as they become smaller.
"Once a church declines below 100 in worship attendance, it is likely to die within just a few years," he said. "The life expectancy for many of these churches is 10 years or less."
But there is hope for the small church and its pastor. Rainer knows this first hand.
"At the first church I ever pastored, we started with an attendance of seven," he said. "When they called me to be their pastor, it was either that or close the doors."
Rainer points out that he didn't have programs or money. "All I had was the Holy Spirit giving me opportunities to share the Gospel," he said. "The turnaround started with me leading one person to Christ. Others in the congregation began to do the same. After one year, the attendance had grown to nearly 70. It wasn't money or the latest fad. It was just obedience."
As a way to encourage evangelistic obedience among pastors and congregations, Rainer has partnered with the North American Mission Board to launch EvangelismRenewal.com.
The site will encourage churches to record how many Gospel conversations they hope to have in 2018. "We know conversion is only by the Holy Spirit, but we also know that God begins most of these conversions with Gospel conversations."
The goal of the research and EvangelismRenewal.com is to start a conversation about difficult topics, said Rainer, but also to point struggling churches to evangelistically successful congregations and offer encouragement for those in decline to follow suit.
At the site, visitors can sign up to receive a free e-book, "Rainer on Evangelism." "We hope this will give church leaders a reason to lead their churches to be evangelistic and give those in the congregations resources and ideas on how they can be evangelistic," he said.
The website will contain testimonies, resources and research, but the emphasis will be on encouraging Christians to share their faith with others.
"It is our prayer that the research, the website and the e-book will spark millions of Gospel conversations that God will use to bring about the conversion of men and women, boys and girls."
Aaron Earls is a writer for LifeWay Christian Resources.
Monday, July 10, 2017
Friday, July 7, 2017
Wednesday, July 5, 2017