Public Evangelism Resources
By Jose Cortes, Jr.
I get the impression that Jesus was a very likable fellow. When reading the Gospels, Jesus does not strike me as someone whom people feared. On the contrary, He was known for transforming lives as He walked the earth: at the wedding, on the road, at the pool. He did not scare people, He attracted people because He loved them and they sensed He loved them. The helpless children, the outcast Samaritan woman, the blind Bartimaeus, the wealthy Zacchaeus, the influential Nicodemus; Jesus’ appeal went beyond culture, generation, gender, and socio-economics. How did He do it? It was definitely not by scaring people. His broad appeal had much to do with His love and compassion.
What Jesus did during His earthly ministry, He wants to replicate through us today. How do we do it?
Venture outside the walls of your church. Walk the streets, talk to people, attend community town hall meetings, go to little league games, and neighborhood parties, ask people how they are doing, be normal, don’t feel you need to give a Bible Study to everyone you meet, let them talk, and listen. The majority of the people in your community have no intention to ever step into your church building, if you don’t venture outside our walls and mingle, like Jesus did, you will never have a shot at meeting them, much less reaching them. We cannot make friends with people by staying away from them. It is OK to befriend non-Adventists, Jesus did.
Ask people about their needs. For years we have gone to the community to unload what we have, which is our beliefs, and in many cases have been rejected because at that point in time, the community was in need of something different than what we had to offer, which is very important, just that our timing has been wrong. We forget that “showing sympathy and ministering to the needs” come before the “follow me”, Jesus taught us that. There are many ways to collect data: surveys, focus groups, town hall meetings, yet one on one conversations with neighbors and community leaders may help to create a strong bond.
Do something transformational. When the Adventist Church is in town the community must feel it in a very positive way. Adventism is not only here to proclaim the best upcoming future but to help create a better present. Jesus knew the world would get worse with the passing of time and before the Second Coming, yet He always aimed to make life better in the present for those He came in touch with. As soon as we know the people and their needs, it is time to work focusing on their well-being. The appropriate time for literature distribution, invitations to Small Groups, Bible Studies, or Public Evangelistic Meetings will come, and the invitation will be much effective if it comes from someone who is loved and trusted. We must also remember that at some points in the lives of individuals, a Steps to Christ, a DVD or book on grieving, surviving divorce, good parenting, or health may be very appropriate. Some will accept our books and our message once they know that we genuinely care for them. If they sense that our care and love for them is only temporary, they may resent us; we may never hear from them again.
When Jesus said GO, He meant GO! Let’s get out and venture outside the walls!
Pastor Jose Cortes Jr., is an Associate Ministerial Director and Leads Evangelism for the Adventist Church in North America
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