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As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
By Chris Elrod
This is the third installment of a series of posts in “How To Reach The Hard To Reach.” Today I would like to discuss the methods for reaching the hard to reach.
1. Evangelistic leadership – Pastors or staff with a heart for discipleship, deep Bible teaching or administration are very necessary in reaching the hard to reach for Christ. However, they don’t necessarily make very good top-level leaders in the effort. A church needs a Senior/Lead Pastor that eats, sleeps and breathes reaching people far from God with Good News of Jesus Christ. Leadership building and culture building is top down. It has to flow from God to the top tier leaders – and then to the rest of the church.
2. Let go of style or structure – People far from God have very little church experience. In essence they have no clue about what church is suppose to be. Chances are your church will be what they eventually consider the norm. They don’t care about hymns vs. choruses, traditional vs. contemporary, expositional preaching vs. topical preaching, etc. They just want to know that they will be accepted with open arms and that they will hear Truth. Don’t get hung up on trying to change the style or structure of your church. Concentrate on loving people and preaching the Word of God without compromise.
3. Respect their privacy – People far from God want to remain anonymous until they are ready not to be anonymous. Much of this stems from current culture, pains of past church experiences or preconceived notions about the Church. Respect that or you will lose opportunities. Don’t have visitors raise their hands or stand for a guest card. Don’t show up to their house during the week unannounced to satisfy the weekly “visitation program.” Don’t drive folks crazy about joining the church, faithfulness about prayer meeting attendance or needing their contact information. When you have loved on them, shared Truth with them and showed them you cared – they will gladly give you all of that – and more!
4. Preach Jesus – Our church is an expositional sermon series church. It can sometimes take me months or a year to get through a book of the Bible. I preach from both Old and New Testament. I never get in the pulpit unless I can somehow bring the message back around to God’s saving grace through His son Jesus. Reaching the hard to reach has to be about preaching for life change and not strictly knowledge.
5. Never miss an opportunity – We have an “altar call” every Sunday. I truly believe that the Holy Spirit is present in every situation where the Bible is being taught. I never want to miss an opportunity for a person far from God to respond to the Gospel presentation. Sometimes we have them come forward – other times we have them raise their hand – other times we just have them pray along to the “sinner’s prayer.”
6. Go where the hard to reach hang out – People far from God do not hang out in coffee shops, dinner on the grounds or the lobby of your church. The hard to reach hang out in bars, movie theaters, emergency rooms, local parks, college campuses, the streets and homeless shelters. Pastors – church leaders – I can’t emphasize this enough – GET OUT OF YOUR OFFICE! If you have to spend 40 hours a week prepping a sermon then you can forget reaching the hard to reach. Leaders lead by example. If you want your church to reach the hard to reach you have to set the example with personal action.
Next week, come back here for the next installment of Chris Elrod‘s series, where he will discuss methods for reaching the hard to reach for Christ.
And be sure to share your thoughts in comments – we’d love to hear what you think.