outreach-1

Ideas on Doing Outreach – Daniel Fusco

The critical mistake that many church planters make is that they think that God’s calling on their lives equals a ‘successful’ plant. Planters think that since God is calling them to an area that they will simply show up, put up a sign, and people will flock into the building because they are ready to teach the Bible. Oftentimes people get the false impression that if you simply teach the Word, people will flock into a new church. This may be true if you are planting a church in the middle of a full on revival, but in reality, in 2009, there aren’t too many place in the United States that are in the middle of a full on revival. Effective church planters need to do outreach to meet people so that they can come to the building to hear that Word of God. This was brought into focus for me when I was speaking to one of the older pastors in the Calvary Chapel movement. This pastor was there in the beginning of the Jesus Movement. He told me that not only was the Pastor Chuck Smith’s teaching anointed, but there was also a ton of outreach going on. There were concerts and Christian communes. There were outreach studies going on in schools, homes, and by the side of the road. Greg Laurie was inventing new cartoon tracks and they were being handed out. Teaching tapes were being given out. There were people, outside of the church building, meeting people with the intention of communicating the Gospel to them. A successful church plant is one that is reaching out to their community. When the people who are reached come to the church, then they will get the opportunity to hear God’s inspired Word.

In one of Mark Driscoll’s books, he gives a great and simple insight into casting vision for outreach. He asked three simple questions: Who are you reaching out with? Who are you reaching out to? And how are you reaching out? Feel free to read that article to see the finer points of these questions. But to begin our discussion, these questions are important. Who are you reaching out with? Is it just you? Do you have a small team? A large group? The answer to this question will affect the scope of our outreach. Who are you reaching out to? Depending on whom we are trying to reach, this will color the style of outreach. In the Jesus Movement, Christian concerts worked well, but might not in every context. This speaks to the need for cultural exegesis and understanding our target communities. This is where statistics and demographics can be incredibly helpful. Do we love the community that we are called to as Jesus does in such a way as to understand them? Finally, how are you reaching out? This is the culmination of the first two questions. When we understand who we are reaching out with and who we are reaching out to, then we can formulate an action plan as to how we are going to reach out. It is this third section that I want to spend some time on.

Have A Plan

It is simply wisdom to have a goal and that can be executed. If we have a plan and set some goals, we will have a better chance of accomplishing anything. So I always recommend that church planters come up with a plan, no matter how basic it may be. Set some goals and work towards their fulfillment.

Don’t be Seeker Sensitive, Be Seeker Sensible

I don’t know who coined this pithy phrase, but I like it. We need to be sensible to the people that we are trying to reach and the message that we are giving out. This is important because oftentimes our outreach ideas are not relevant to the people we are trying to reach. We have a tendency to import an outreach strategy that we saw used in another context. We need to be sensible. There is nothing worse then investing time and energy into something that isn’t sensible.

The Gospel is Free; But Getting It Out is NOT Cheap

We need to spend money on outreach. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it isn’t. It seems that oftentimes we would rather spend our money on anything else other than reaching people for the Gospel. We would rather spend money on the building a church (building) than building the church (community). Are we more concerned with getting ourselves a salary our reaching our community? Getting the Gospel out in our community will cost money and we should be prepared for this. It is money well spent (as long as we are mindful of who we are trying to reach).

It’s The Slow Drip That Works

What I mean by this is simply that it’s the cumulative effect of all the outreach attempts that work. We are apt to judge the effectiveness of an outreach based on immediate fruit. But in a church plant, it is the entire breadth of outreach that will have the effect. A continued outreach initiative, over time, will be effective. So have a broad view of it. Think about it, how many times have you heard about something before you try it? Like a restaurant? Oftentimes you’ll see an advertisement or two, maybe a billboard, then you’ll hear of a few people who went there and then you’ll try it. Churches are the same way. After someone gets used to seeing your name, if they know someone who likes it, often they will try it.

Put Your Name and Logo On Everything

This is the simplest outreach style. I call it ‘passive outreach’. To simply get name recognition, you want to put your logo, name, and website on everything: handbills, t-shirts, pens, everything. If you put your branding on everything, eventually people will notice you. As a Calvary Chapel pastor, if I am driving through a town and I see a dove, I instantly know what that means. There is recognition of the name and symbol. In our towns, if no one ever heard of us, there is a good chance that they are not stopping by for a visit.

Maintain A Good Website (and keep your name in the Yellow Pages)

In the technologically obsessed United States, it is criminal not to have a strong web presence. We are really shooting ourselves in the foot if we are not all over the web. Simply google your community and see what comes up. Put your name everywhere. On every community website that you can. The internet is here to stay and we want to be a part of it. People still use the Yellow Pages as well. Make sure your name is in the Yellow Pages. Also, don’t forget that you can negotiate with the Yellow Pages salesman. That we have in the Yellow Pages was being offered at $120 per month and we settled on $30 per month. That’s an extra $90 for other outreach ideas.

Train The Congregation in Community Engagement

Jesus’ outreach style was to train up twelve apostles. Jesus knew that having thirteen points of contact (Himself plus the twelve) would be more effective than it just being Himself. As we are teaching the people the Word, we need to be constantly raising up people who are effective witnesses on their jobs, while at school, as they recreate and the like. I am constantly downloading outreach sensibilities to the congregation as we walk through the Scriptures together.

Finally, The Church Will Be Passionate About What The Pastor Is Passionate About

Brothers, if we are not passionate about the lost, neither will the folks in our fellowship be. Just as Jesus reproduced Himself spiritually in His disciples, so will we. If our hearts do not burn for the lost, then we will never inspire them to care enough to share. Brothers, do we have a passion for the souls of men? Is it a passion that will drive us out of the safety of our offices and studies and into the places where people congregate to them won for Christ? A church planter without an outreach passion is not a church planter.

bible

Biblical Meditation and Spiritual Blessing

BIBLICAL MEDITATION AND SPIRITUAL BLESSING

Psalm 1: 1-2 “(1) Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; (2) But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.

Spurgeon Insight: “He delights to be in it (the Law) as his rule of life; he delights, moreover, to meditate in it, to read it by day and think upon it by night.”[1


Two Sources of Influence

This Psalm is about two different types of counsel by which a person can live, and the practical results a person can experience from following one or the other.  On the one hand the Psalm warns against living life by the counsel of the ungodly, those who don’t live by God’s wisdom and have a right relationship with Him.  On the other hand the Psalm graphically describes the blessed life a person will enjoy if they turn to God’s law for counsel which is found in God’s Word, the Bible.


The Subtle Key to Blessing

I have often read this Psalm and took encouragement from it to keep studying the Bible as my guide in life decisions.  Reading it over today it stands out to me that being blessed through God’s Word involves a lot more than studying the Bible.  The Psalmist doesn’t say that the person who merely reads or studies the Bible will be blessed.  He says that it is the person who “delight(s)” and “meditates” on the Law of the LORD who will be blessed.  Delighting in God’s Word speaks of taking pleasure in it.  Meditating on God’s Word isn’t just reading it, but chewing on it mentally, and I believe, praying over what is found in God’s Word.


Delight = Spiritual Nourishment

So the big application for me is not to stop short with mere Bible reading and expect to be transformed by the Word.  I must delight in God’s Word and meditate on God’s Word.  Only then will I be the blessed and transformed person glorifying God that this Psalm describes.  The ability to do either of these things will take the grace and enabling of the Holy Spirit.  Pray with me…

Lord, we pray right now that you would increase delight for your word inside our spirits.  Increase our capacity to enjoy it through meditation.  Our spirit is willing, but our flesh is weak.  By Your grace and Spirit accomplish these things in us so we can live the transformed and blessed life You desire to produce in, and through us.


[1] Spurgeon. Charles. The Crossway Classic Commentaries. Psalms. Page 2.

Note- The above post is taken from “Lift: a Devotional Journey through Selected Psalms” By Kellen Criswell

balance

The Balancing Act

“So it was, from that time on, that half of my servants worked at construction, while the other half held the spears, the shields, the bows, and wore armor; and the leaders were behind all the house of Judah.”

Nehemiah 4:16

This is by no means exhaustive or complete…just thinking some things through…

There is no doubt that the “work” we are involved in as the Body of Christ is vast and extensive from our point of view. As we look at the “walls” that lie in disrepair and comprehend that its “breaches are many” (Isaiah 22:9), we begin to understand the scope of all that has been done, and begin to understand the reach that still has to be accomplished in our own communities, to the ends of the globe.

What greater thing is there than pouring our very lives that have been redeemed from the slimy pit and have now been washed clean, purged from the stains of our guilty consciences and shot-out lives, into the great and eternal “work” that we have been called to and given gifts by His Spirit which enable us to engage ourselves in this work effectively and profitably for the renown of Jesus’ name.

There are those that each of us know and love and care for that are fighting and laboring and toiling, expending spiritual and physical blood, sweat, and tears in this “work”. They are the ones that fill the seats on Sunday, falling asleep, nodding off during our sermons, not making it to the discipleship classes, the home fellowship or mid-week study all the time, “‘cuz their just plumb wore out”. And unfortunately, we sometimes question their dedication to the work because of these realities. These are the ones who are directly involved in the “front lines” work of the ministry. We sometimes fall into the mindset that “We are the ones on the front lines, that I am the one forging ahead into the vast hordes of the unchurched and unbelieving. “I alone am left, Lord!” (and not wrongly so, in all instances).

But here in Nehemiah 4:16 we see the position of the leaders in the “impossible” work in Jerusalem…namely repairing the breaches, rebuilding the wall. The leaders are positioned squarely behind the “frontline”. Yes, they are also directly involved in the work themselves, fighting, laboring and toiling alongside. But they are also functioning “behind the scenes”, watching, directing, re-directing, encouraging, equipping, etc.

With this picture in mind, one thought stands out. There is the necessity that we must teach, by our lives and by our words, that in the work of the Lord and in the service of the Lord, in desiring to accomplish the task that is before us, there is a needed balance, with which we will be able to be most effective in our watching and in our working.

We, as your pastors, have been separated from “waiting on tables”, so to speak, and strive to be constant in our giving of ourselves, our entire lives, to the ministry of the word and to prayer. Our desire, our goal, our calling, if you will, is to excel in being the leaders that God has gifted us to be so that you might be the best equipped, as you each are laboring and toiling on the front lines, rebuilding the walls.

Ephesians 4:11-16


The-Cheap-Seats

When Faith Deteriorates into Hope

My wife and I have been to beautiful AT&T Park in San Francisco to watch the Giants play on two occasions.  The first time there, we weren’t too many rows above third base and many people had a mitt with them – they were anticipating some foul balls coming their way.  The second time found us high in the right field upper deck seats and virtually no mitts were to be seen.  We had gorgeous views of McCovey Cove, the Bay Bridge, and the upper skyline of the City, but had no expectation of any balls coming our way.

Close to third base, I needed to watch every pitch because something could have come my way in a second. But high in the upper right field seats, I didn’t expect anything to come my way.  Up there, I was at the game, but not in the game.  We see something of this dynamic in Martha’s life in John 11.  After Lazarus died, Martha went from being near third base to the upper right field seats.  She went from expecting something from Jesus to expecting nothing from Jesus.  She took herself out of the field of play.  Her faith deteriorated into hope.  This is what happened to Martha and it’s what can happen to you – you can find yourself sitting in the cheap seats with Martha.  How do I know it can happen to you?  Because it happened to me.  I’ve experienced how faith can deteriorate into hope.  I’ve taken that long walk up the ramp to the cheap seats where I don’t expect much to come my way.

“If only You had been here, my brother would not have died.” 

You know the story – Lazarus is dead and buried.  Jesus delayed His arrival and it was now, after Lazarus has been in the tomb four days, that Jesus finally showed up.  Not only were Martha and Mary grieved by the death of Lazarus, they were shaken by the seeming indifference of Jesus who hadn’t come in time to heal their brother. 

Martha’s faith took a hit.  She didn’t lose her faith – but she did lose the fervency of her faith.  She still loves & believes in the Lord, but her faith isn’t as vibrant & vital as it had been.  She is disappointed with Jesus and tells him so.

On a lesser scale, I know exactly what this is like.  My faith has taken numerous hits. I have been gun shy about promoting various ministry opportunities because they have been largely without effect in the past.  Poorly attended concerts have made me reluctant to want to promote and participate in other similar events.  I just can’t be certain Jesus is going to come through for me.  Ineffective outreaches leave me not so gung-ho the next time because I can’t be sure Jesus is going to show up.  Mediocre ‘body life’ services have made me think twice about scheduling others.  Where was Jesus at our ‘body life’ service?  I have thought many times that Jesus has been late and left me with a funeral to arrange.

From our vantage point, we know what Jesus had in mind.  Jesus assured Martha that her brother would rise again.  Jesus meant resurrection today, but Martha couldn’t go there with Jesus – she said that he would rise in the resurrection on the last day.  Her expectation migrated from today to the last day.  This is precisely where Martha takes the cheap seats.  This is where her faith deteriorated into hope.  This is where she left her seat just above third base and took the long walk up the ramp to the cheap seats.

Faith says that Jesus is with me today.  Hope says that Jesus will be with me tomorrow.  Obviously, hope is a good thing to possess.  It’s one of the Big Three – …now abide faith, hope, love…  But when hope abides without faith, it takes you out of the game and relegates you to the cheap seats.  When hope abides without faith it robs you of today and shifts everything to tomorrow.  Martha had no expectation her brother would rise today.  The deadline had come and gone and Jesus had not come.  Faith says that Jesus is with me today.  Since He is not with me today, all I have is tomorrow.  All that’s left is hope.  She went from faith for a miracle today to hope for one on the last day.

This is one of the devil’s greatest, subtlest tricks – not to deny the power of Jesus, but to relegate it to another day – to make faith deteriorate into hope – to rob me of today and shift everything to tomorrow.  A tomorrow Jesus is a great hope, but I need a today Jesus.

Indications of a valid, but not a vital faith

Disappointment becomes accusation – 21If You had been here…

When I am disappointed, I am overcome by the Ifs of life – the would have beens/could have beens/should have beens of life.  I am not elated by what could be, I am deflated by what is.  I no longer look forward to the miracle I expected, I look around at the mess I am left with.  I shift all my expectation to heaven.  And the expectation of heaven is good, but not at the expense of a faith that says Jesus wants to move in power today.

Confession becomes profession – 22 – Martha said, Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, He will give You… 

It’s true, He will – but we know she doesn’t really believe this.  Her confession of faith was a  mere profession of truth.  When faith deteriorates into hope, the dynamic of faith becomes the rehearsal of doctrine.  When faith deteriorates into hope I take refuge in truth, not in the Lord and the strength of His might.  I retreat from a passionate personal faith into a propositional doctrinal one.

Faith becomes hope – present anticipation becomes future expectation – 24  Martha says that Lazarus will rise again on the last day – not today.

22-28  Martha’s present faith is replaced by traditional theology.  She is fearful of believing too much.  She takes refuge in hope, not faith

Martha is in a place where she needs to rededicate her life to the Lord

Rededicate?  Why?  There’s no sin in her life – and there is no life in her life, either!  And it’s more than the death of her brother – it’s the death of a dream.  She was more shook up by the seeming indifference of Jesus than the death of Lazarus.  It is one thing to give yourself to the Lord in the excitement and passion and idealism of youth.  It is another thing to give yourself to the Lord in the realism, the brokenness, and the disappointment of unfulfilled expectations.  So much has happened, so much damage has occurred, so many opportunities have been missed, so much sin has done so much harm, so many regrets have been accumulated, so much disappointment has taken a toll on the soul.  Possibly, without even realizing it, you find yourself next to Martha in the cheap seats and need to give yourself once again to God.  No, you haven’t backslid – there is moral purity and doctrinal integrity, but something has died within you.  Yes, your calling is still intact, but the passion of your calling, that intensity you experienced, that expectation of Jesus moving in power today is a thing of the past.  Disappointment has robbed you of passion and anticipation.  You’re sitting in the cheap seats surrounded by thousands of others who may be cheering, but when you look closer, they aren’t wearing any mitts, either.

Jesus seeks to reignite her staggered faith – to restore her gutted faith

Jesus wanted to move Martha and wants to move you from the cheap seats back into the place of action – from doctrinal profession to personal confession, from future hope to present faith, from tomorrow to today.

Do you have an “if only” faith or an “even now” faith? 

Martha had gone from, “If only You had been here,” to, “Even now God will give You what You ask.”  And even though she really didn’t believe that, you can.  Is He Lord only before bad things happen or is He Lord even now, after bad things have happened?  If you have an ‘if only’ faith, it will turn into mush as did Martha’s.  You do not have an ‘if only’ God, you have an ‘even now’ God.  An ‘if only’ faith cannot fully trust an ‘even now’ God.  Even now, God can comfort; even now God can restore; even now, God can use you; even now God can heal; even now, God can deliver; even now, God can bless.

Abraham had an even now God – and even after his ability to sire children had expired – even now God can bring forth children of Abraham.  Joseph had an even now God – and even after years of imprisonment and loneliness and servitude – even now God exalted him to the right hand of Pharaoh.  Joshua and Caleb had an even now God – even though the Canaanites had cities walled to the heavens and the Israelites were like grasshoppers in their eyes – even now God would drive them out of the land.  Martha, Mary, and Lazarus had an even now God – even though Lazarus was dead for four days – even now Jesus is the resurrection and the life.  You have an even now God though ministry has battered and torn you up. You have a Jesus who is the resurrection and the life today!  May your hope become faith, may your tomorrow become today, may your profession become confession, may your expectation of an even now God become glorious reality as Jesus shows up in your life and in your ministry.  It’s time to get up and change seats.