“For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).
The number one priority of our Lord Jesus was to reach people. Just think about it! This was the only reason He left the beauty and splendor of heaven. Indeed, the Bible says, “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor” (2 Corinthians 8:9). As believers we know that reaching people is the highest priority of the church, yet it seems that many times our efforts are spasmodic. We seem to have motion but no mission. If we went duck hunting the way we go witnessing or evangelizing the neighborhood, we would go out into the backyard, point our shotgun up into the air, shoot aimlessly and hope that some poor duck would fly into the bullet!
How do you hunt ducks?
First, find a pond around which ducks hang out. Second, go in with something to entice the ducks; a duck caller for instance. Wait until the duck are within range, get as close to the ducks as possible then take aim and fire. After they have felt the impact of your shot set up your retriever to bring in the catch.
How do you reach people?
Find your place to work. Maybe it is where you pastor or perhaps it is a community where you live or visit regularly. When you drive into this place realize that God has appointed you to find a way to reach the people who live there.
Step One: Get Organized.
Invest the small amount of money needed to purchase large index cards. On these cards place the names and addresses of the people you meet (if you’re into computers, you can create a database file). On these cards place all of the information you can find about each individual. How many children? What are their names? Where do they go to school? What is their place of employment? Where does their spouse work? File your cards in alphabetical order and put them in a safe place.
Step Two: Make Contact.
Start making regular contact with the people in your prospect file. Write on the card when you last made contact, and the response you got. Place them on your mailing list and keep them informed about the activities of the church. On special occasions, send the children a note about a class you have available for them or a youth activity.
Step Three: Take Aim and Shoot!
Vance Havner once said, “We have become canvassers looking for members instead of gatherers looking for souls.” Reach these people! Work your index cards! Send cards, letters, promotions, brochures, newsletters, make phone calls and personal visits (a personal visit is the “flesh and blood” edition of the Word). This is hard work. Do you know that hard work alone will not bring the best results? It takes hard work and correct work. Some of the poorest people in the world are the hardest working. Some of our smaller churches have pastors worry themselves to death with many activities. If they start reaching more people they can let go of some of the less important task. Take aim!
Step Four: Train Others.
Continue to expand your prospect file and continue to work the file. Then begin training others to become responsible for portions of the city or community. The can take one or more blocks, a district or a whole community. Keep a master file in your office but show some of your trustworthy people how to begin a prospect file for their prescribed area. Your goal is to work yourself out of a job by spending your time training them and then letting them do the work. After some years the ideal situation would be to hire a full-time minister of outreach and evangelism for the local church.
Who are our prospects?
There are two types of people in your community. Those who attend your church and those who do not! Every person in your community is a prospect.
- The best prospects are the people who visit your church. How you treat your visitors the first time will dictate whether they come back again. Find a way to tactfully get their names and addresses and add these to your index cards to your list.
- The next best prospects are people who have attended your church before. If you were selling cars, the best prospect would be the person who walked into your showroom. Your second best prospect would be the person who had bought a car from you before. In many instances there are people in a community who attended the Church of God, but for some reason they dropped out. Why? Lack of interest? Hurt feelings? Bad marriages? With the right kind of motivation they might drop back in. Begin developing a list of people who used to attend your church. Go through the membership roll, look in old Sunday school records, ask members of the church—in short, reach these people.
- Other sources of good prospects are people who know someone in your church, newcomers to the community, and other believers who may be dissatisfied with their church.
Joe Girard is a world-famous salesman and is even listed in the Guiness Book of World Records. He says, “If I had to name the tools that work best to build my business, the list would include the telephone, my prospect file, my mailing list and my business cards. I guard my card file of customers practically with my life. I keep two sets. There is no way I could ever get all that information together again.” Can we do any less for Jesus? As long as you follow these simple procedures you will never lack for contacts in your church ministry. Let’s start reaching people today!