The basic purpose for beginning this type of outreach ministry is to provide a consistent, well-organized, spiritual Sunday school class for the residents of a housing project or a local community. Some advantages of this type of outreach are:
- Provides a Sunday school growth outlet for a cramped mother church with little or no extra room for expansion
- Provides a small, close-knit fellowship which may be preferred over a large church
- Provides a means of getting the gospel to the lost.
The main goal is to win people to Christ; therefore, emphasis should not be on establishing a “religion” but on developing a definite “relationship” with the people. There should be a concerted effort to build a warm, loving, Christ-like relationship with the people; and, in so doing, credibility with the community will be established.
To begin with, the format should be a single service on Sunday morning. The service should contain a combination of worship, congregational and special singing, testimonies, prayer requests, and an interesting Bible lesson.
Just as the term “outreach” implies, it is a labor of love that “gives” and does not take back. It is impossible to love without giving and to give without loving.
Once the chapel ministry is begun, don’t stop! This type of ministry is not meant to be a one-time effort. It should continue indefinitely. Many churches begin outreaches; but when the enemy begins to fight and problems begin to occur, they quit. Don’t let this happen. Plan on success!
Faithful workers are going to have to be recruited for teaching and weekly visitation. In the outreach ministry in the housing projects or in the community, there must be weekly visitation to each apartment or to the homes in the neighborhood. Workers must visit during the week and on Saturday and encourage the residents to attend the Sunday services. Personal selection is the best way to get qualified, dependable workers. They should be contacted on a one-on-one basis, told of the work for them to do, and then asked to pray about it and get God’s direction.
Plans will have to be made to visit every apartment or home in the complex or community. Each local family should be well-informed of the services of the outreach chapel. Attendance in the chapel rises and falls on the amount of time spent in visitation.
The first consideration is finding a place to have church. If it is in a neighborhood, a vacant church or building would be an excellent location. Even a house or apartment would be suitable if it is strategically located. Many of the housing projects have a community room (sometimes even a separate building) that would be adaptable for a Sunday school class. Step one is to get permission from the administrator of the project to hold religious services. At this juncture, it is well to point out to the person in charge the following positive reasons for the ministry:
- Give assurance that the services are interdenominational and that all faiths are welcome.
- Relate that it is more than just a weekly “religious service.” Point out that the ministry is to the “total person.” There will be special dinners for the residents, socials, bus trips, films, etc. Show that your purpose is in the “community spirit” and that the residents will benefit in many ways other than just as a Bible class.
- Promise to be there each and every week.
- Promise to take good care of the facilities.
- Point out that the service will not be a “preaching” type but will be a “teaching service”— one which will involve all who attend.
After securing the building, weekly visitations must take place. Saturday seems to be the best day, since the Sunday church services will be fresh in the minds of the people. Always have an inspiring and motivating Sunday class. The way the class is conducted will determine whether or not the people come back. If it is interesting and full of fresh and exciting ideas, they will return. But it if is dull and dry, they just will not come back.
Ideally, due to the small numerical size of an outreach chapel, there is one built-in, ongoing form of promotion. This is the bond of fellowship that exists between the attendees. As they continue to worship from week to week, love and a deeper understanding of each other begin to develop. Every person seeks to be recognized by his own peer group. Everyone wants someone to listen to his “opinion.” The chapel program provides the opportunity. Promotion helps to do the following:
- Binds the group into a strong Biblical fellowship, which is conducive to the unity of all factors.
- Welcomes others to participate in a non-church, sociable environment. This helps in providing eligible prospects to add to the visitation list.
Plan to begin right away. This outreach ministry will prove to be one of the most rewarding that the church will ever initiate.