Worship Service Accessible to the Unchurched - Paul proclaims the primacy of preaching as the Holy Spirit's means of converting sinners in Romans 10. But in western culture unbelievers have been thoroughly indoctrinated to despise church. At best Christianity is considered to be untrue, boring and irrelevant, and at worst it is considered to be a manipulative tool in the hands of self-serving hypocrites. We need to demythologize Christianity and demonstrate the genuine reality of worship in the presence of the unseen, true and living God.
DA Carson suggests holding serious, biblical worship services which contain explanations for unchurched people (Lecture 3, 48:40). For example, prayer can be explained this way: God is a talking God. He talks to us in the Bible and He asks us to talk to Him. When we talk to God, we call it prayer. We close our eyes when we pray to block out distractions.
Evangelism is costly in terms of time, resources and personal comfort. However, as with every divine vocation, obedience is both exciting and thoroughly satisfying. Not only are hell-bound sinners offered eternal life, but your faith matures as you regurgitate and defend the gospel.
We need to cultivate a friendly openness in our congregations which welcomes outsiders, especially visible sinners - the kind Pharisees wouldn't eat with.
Many people are looking for genuine authenticity in religion. The sinner will be compelled to repent by the Word and Spirit of God, but we should do our part not to scare unbelievers away at the door by negative stereotypes such as hypocrisy and dry formalism.
Hospitality - Hebrews 13:2 - Not only is it a Scriptural command to entertain strangers, it is also a great way to get into conversations with unbelievers. In the course of conversation over a meal, you will inevitably find opportunity to offer explanations for your life-style and Christian faith without being aggressive with the unbeliever. We live in a individualistic society where you and your neighbours may not be comfortable entering each other's homes, but we should change that.
Lending Library - Giving people a Bible is a great starting place. There are also many good evangelistic books, videos, CDs, etc. which can be shared with unbelievers as an introduction to the Bible. Make a list of materials available for lending, and offer them to unbelievers you know. Here are some suggested books and videos. Keep a lending record with name/date/phonenumber and specify a finite borrowing period if you want to get your material back.
Write in Community Newspapers - All kinds of unbelievers write to the news paper promoting anti-Christian views. We have a right and obligation in the public media to counter unbelieving thought . Well-written, short, and intelligent letters will often be published. As DA Carson says, postmodernism at least gives us the right to get back into public debate.
Saturday Men's Breakfast - Book an interesting speaker, arrange a simple spread of muffins, rolls and coffee, and invite people you know to come. Write up a flyer and let people know you'll be doing this on monthly basis. A local Presbyterian church has been doing men's breakfasts for years inviting a new speaker each time and drawing men (and women!) from other churches and the immediate neighbourhood.
Coffee Shops - To some degree the coffee shop is a modern "market place" equivalent where people come to talk.
Web site - Many people live on the internet, banking, shopping, studying, socializing, and recreating by surfing the net. If your church doesn't have a visible presence on the internet, you are missing an increasingly large portion of the "marketplace." Besides information about the ministries offered by your church, online tracts, articles, and audio sermons can be distributed digitally.
Internet - Email, Chat Rooms, Boards - If you want to find out where people are exchanging ideas check out a few news groups or online bulletin boards. Literally thousands of people spend hours daily interacting through cyberspace. This medium of communication is inferior to personal face-to-face communication. Often people are more combative and less polite due to the lack of personalism. However, you'll find people are willing to exchange ideas. This is one more avenue through which Christians can get back into the debate and spread some light.
Door to Door Evangelism - This can be intimidating because you may be mistaken for a Jehovah's Witness (JW) and that might get you chased away. However, knocking on doors may reach people you would otherwise never cross paths with. Politicians do it so it must work. Try an approach which respects the resident's time/privacy, disassociates you from salesmen and cults, and offers the resident something rather than asking for something. For example, offer a free booklet, a free CD, or an invitation to hear a special speaker at the community center. Be ready to explain your reason for coming, and to give a gracious answer to some common objections/excuses people raise as a smoke-screen to avoid doing business with God.
...the only Christian witness which is allowed, is a kind of gentle sharing of my experience which may help you, not proclaiming truth in the public arena to which we will one day have to come to terms.
(DA Carson Lecture 1, 62:02)
Tract Distribution - People don't read much these days, but a brief
thought-provoking tract may be read especially if it's given to someone with
dead time. For example people at the bus stop or on elevator may take 30
seconds to read a well written tract. Samples >>
Train Evangelism - See DA Carson Lecture 4, 20:40 Listen >>
Biblical Counseling - People all around are dealing with depression, marriage problems, child-rearing problems, financial problems, health problems, and psychosomatic problems. People of the Book have God's answers to the complex problems of life. Only the power of the Holy Spirit can initiate the heart renovation necessary to apply Biblical wisdom. The Biblical counselor, then, offers real hope for change, only after the gospel has penetrated the subject's heart. Professional pastoral counseling may be offered by the church, or Christian books/media may be shared with troubled people. For example Tedd Tripp's Shepherding a Childís Heart tapes/videos combine child-rearing instruction with the necessary gospel foundation. Details >>
Small Groups - Home Bible Study - People who have rejected organized religion may still attend an informal Bible study group. Using prepared Bible study outlines or video presentations biblically-informed lay people or elders may facilitate small group discussions about ultimate issues. There's a danger of untaught "leaders" misinforming their hearers (e.g., Apollos, Acts 18:26). But a proper balance of humility and wisdom can prevent you from overstepping the limits of your knowledge. A proven way to get people to come to a small-group Bible study is to offer a free meal first. Running a Bible study course over a period of six weeks, or on an ongoing basis, gives your guests an opportunity to build relationships and to really engage with the Word of God. Here are some Suggested Videos for use in a small group study.
Informal Bible Discussion Guidelines - The goal is to help people interact with God through His Word. Donít pretend to know what you donít know. Donít be afraid to consult Bible study helps, or to promise to research an answer to some question. Donít be unnecessarily offensive. God's servant must not be quarrelsome (1Tim 3:3). Diffuse offensive or hostile remarks by acknowledging whatís right about the person's statement, then offering the truth claim of God's Word on that issue. Don't get caught up in semantic debates, and quarrels about elusive, peripheral subjects.