I have said it many times, “The local church can be like a black hole!” Don’t get me wrong. I love the local church, I am a pastor, and I believe that God’s people (both gathered and scattered) are the best hope for the gospel to impact lives and communities.
But the local church also has a massive gravitational pull that seems to draw believers inward toward each other rather than propel them out into the world with the love and message of Jesus. If Christians are going to have a transformative and lasting impact on the world, we must commit to a rigorous rhythm of infusing four critical elements into our hearts and lives. When we do this, we will be thrust out of the church and into the world.
Every Christian leader and influencer should seek to adopt a 30-day cycle of gathering with other believers and focusing on four essential practices. If we do this consistently and passionately, we will propel ourselves and others into the world with fresh expressions of love, articulations of grace, and revelations of Jesus Christ.
Share stories of evangelistic encounters. Celebrate people who have taken steps toward Jesus. Pray for each other. Remember what God has done in your life since you became a follower of Jesus. Spend time cheering each other on and challenging each other to be faithful, bold, and strategic in personal and church outreach.
Ask each other how you are doing in your own walk with Jesus. Then talk about how much time you are spending with people who are still far from Jesus. Talk about the condition of your heart when it comes to evangelism and passion for the lost. Challenge each other to increase your outreach temperature and passion. Talk about the people you are close to who are not yet believers in Jesus. Actually commit to pray more, love more, speak of Jesus more, and engage more with your non-believing family members and friends.
Learn more about articulating your faith. Grow your faith-sharing skills. Practice telling stories of God’s work in your life. Learn to share the story of the gospel in fresh new ways. Read articles together, watch videos, and intentionally learn how to be more effective in sharing the message of Jesus. Make learning about how to articulate your faith a regular part of your relationship with other believers.
Planning and Prayer
Talk strategically. What will you do in the coming 30 days to reach out more effectively? Who will you be praying for? How can others pray for you? What outreach activities can you engage in together? What church outreach events are coming up and how can you be part of these? Ask specific questions that will allow you to identify your goals and plans for scattering the seeds of the gospel in the coming thirty days. Then, pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to fill each of you as you take action.
If we just hope that outreach will happen, we can plan to be disappointed. Good things rarely just happen. Most followers of Jesus are nervous about sharing their faith and doing meaningful outreach. Evangelism scares many of us and we tend to avoid it. To make things worse, the forces of hell mount themselves against us when we get serious about sharing our faith.
We need to be ready for the battle and attacks that will come our way. To do this, we need a monthly infusion of inspiration, accountability, education, planning, and prayer! Commit to this and watch your outreach temperature rise and fruitfulness increase.
Kevin Harney (KevinGHarney.com) is the lead pastor of Shoreline Community Church in Monterey, California, the Founder and Visionary Leader of Organic Outreach Ministries International, and the author of the Organic Outreach series of books and many other books, studies, and articles. He is also a regular contributor to Outreach Magazine.