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Reaching the UnChurched

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Liberty University

Operation Lost Sheep: A Strategy to Reach the Unchurched

A paper submitted to Dr. Wheeler

In partial fulfillment of the Requirements for

the course PATH 610

Liberty Theological seminary

By

Christopher W. Myers

                                                                                   

Lynchburg, Virginia

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

Table of Contents

Introduction- 3

The Equipping phase- 3

The Energizing Phase- 5

The Mobilization Phase- 8

Conclusion- 12

APPENDIX A- 14

Bibliography- 16


!!! Introduction

           

       This strategy to reach the Unchurched is specifically designed for the situation at my local expression of the body of Christ, Faith Bible Church.  This strategy consists of three phases: to equip, to energize, and to mobilize.  The equipping phase deals primarily with the necessary changes to be made within the church body itself.  The Energizing phase deals with the result of the implementation of the equipping phase by motivating and facilitating members to do the work of Christ.  The third phase is the mobilization of Christ's disciples to fulfill the Great Commission of Christ through the four areas of discipleship, outreach, fellowship, and ministry (helping others).

      It must be noted first that the current situation at my local church is that: first, we do a fine job of facilities management, and we also are Biblically sound in doctrine and conservative and convictional on life issues.  Secondly, Faith Bible Church strives to give the most energy to those things that are pertinent to the spread of the good news of Jesus Christ.  Where we fail in this area I believe it would be corrected by the implementation of this strategy to reach the Unchurched.

The Equipping phase

       The first thing that must be accomplished in any strategy for a church to reach the Unchurched is to have a called man of God that has a clear mission and vision for the direction of the church he is leading.  And he must lead.  Secondly, the element of his preaching should be centered on God by presenting God's glory in all things because by the people beholding the glory of God it will change them from one end of glory to another.[1]  In order for the glory of God to be beheld, the preacher must present his sermons in a systematic matter.  His sermons should be expository from the Word of God as its foundation; even his topical and textual sermons should exposit the word of God.  Everything must be drawn out of the Word of God and nothing should be read into it.  Also the sermons should be meat for all believers and never should anything be "dumbed-down."  Rather the Bible's depth should be exposited in depth, Rainer made it clear from his research:

The evidence and data are clear.  Both the formerly unchurched and the leaders of the churches that reached them verified the efficacy of "meaty" teaching and preaching...[2]

       The amount of new members and visitors that come to church to pay their dues is devastating.  This leads to a complacency of Christians and churches.  The easiest way to combat this is by "plugging them in" to the church through small groups.  This ensures that visitors and new members take ownership of the vision of the church.  It also closes the backdoor of the church and is a valuable tool of ensuring that new members or visitors do not fall between the cracks in the church, never to be seen again.

      Stemming from the small group is the idea of the new member/inquirers small group.  This is a class that has a limited life span, but its goals are threefold.  First, train prospective members to see and understand the vision of the church and the major doctrines of the church, this would include going over the church constitution and the meaning and implications of the church covenant and membership.  Secondly, find the spiritual gifts of the individuals and show them opportunities to exercise them in the local church.  Thirdly, the new members should be plugged-in to a small group and discipleship partner/couple for after the small group ends.  Also, one of the Deacons, usually he who leads the discipleship times, should provide spiritual oversight to the individual and add the new member to his church families who he oversees.

       Not everyone will be able or will desire to be a teacher or someone with high responsibilities.  But simpler ministries such as: a Greeter's ministry, Usher ministry, food pantry ministry, missionary contactors, fellowship supervisors, prayer ministry and other administrative or low commitment ministries can be designed to allow for the involvement of all church members for exercising spiritual gifts.

       The most important thing for shepherds of the church is to be able to know what particular areas God's people need training in or what knowledge or skills they are lacking in order to carry out the Biblical vision of the church.  The ways to go about this is threefold: by having the congregation complete a questionnaire that reveals their worldview or the same can be accomplished by a visitation ministry[3] that interviews church members personally or interpersonally, and finally this can be accomplished through discipleship or small groups.  An acceptable worldview questionnaire is attached to this paper as Appendix A to accomplish the first option so church leader's can determine where God's people are at and how much equipping needs to be done and in what areas emphasis should be placed.

The Energizing Phase

       With competent leadership in place, with God-glorying preaching every week, and the implementation of small groups for spiritual growth and interpersonal aspects, then it comes time to energize the body of Christ in order to complete the final phase of mobilization for this strategy.  The energizing phase consist of setting accountability and high expectations using the Deaconship to set the standard for accountability and high expectations, and finally training in the Word to the end of completing specific tasks in order to meet the vision of the church. 

      The heads of the energizing phase is the Deacon body commanded by the Elders.  One attribute of the mobilization phase is discipleship.  It is assumed in the energizing phase that the deacon body is undergoing discipleship individually by individual Elders.   

      Accountability and the expectations set on church members are determined by the Elders according to the vision of the church and the Elders enforce these on the deacons and the deacons enforce this on the church body.  The Elders hold one another mutually accountable and all believers are accountable before the Holy Spirit. 

     The Deacon body should empower the church by teaching small groups, by personal discipleship sessions, by home groups, and by overseeing the spiritual health of no more than 15-20 families within the congregations.  Deacons may hold house fellowship groups outside the grounds of the church with their respective families in order to build a more intimate knowledge and spiritual partnership with them.  This would be a time of fellowship, prayer, and edification.  Any problems among the families that a Deacon oversees should be directly notified to the Elders.  The Elder and Deacons should hold meetings together to share the spiritual status of the families they oversee.  The majority of the time the meeting should be spent in prayer.  By the prayers of every deacon for his respective families, the Elders will hear the heart of the deacons and know if there is anything further to discuss after prayer is complete.  The meeting time should never exceed the prayer time.  This is a description of the foundation of the most important aspect of empowering individuals for discipleship, ministry, outreach, and fellowship; it is the prayer of upright men.

         The leaders of the church should be engaged in active and unceasing prayer such as described above, but prayer must also be given priority elsewhere for regular members to exercise their spiritual gift of prayer.  One important way to do this is by having an unknown and unannounced person pray in a quiet room alone from all people for the duration of the Sunday morning worship service.  The prayer should be focused for the lost and for the worship service and for God's vision for the church and for the Holy Spirit to be at work among all peoples, and for the missionaries, and for the leader of the church to be serving in joy.  It is to be an unceasing prayer for the duration of the worship service.  This prayer can be directed or supplemented by a written list of needs and names of lost people who need Jesus.

       Additionally, the Deacons should know when a member of their particular church family misses church, foregoes tithing, or has spiritual, physical, or mental issues to which counseling, helping ministries, or contact by one of the Elders may be needed.  This allows for biblical accountability and encouraging expectations of high standards to exist within a trusted body of believers for the edification of the saints and makes sure that the flesh of men abstains from evil.

      As already mentioned, a new members/inquirer's class should be taught in the church as God provides and the primary purpose for this has already been described, but the most important aspect of it is that ALL new members should be assigned or choose a small group and house fellowship to become a part of.  Furthermore, that person should be assigned to a discipleship partner. 

The Mobilization Phase

       There is no doubt that the entire mobilization phase is centered on this idea of discipleship.[4]  And the mobilization phase starts and ends with the discipling of a new convert or a person finally beginning to make Jesus Master of His life.  The person to be discipled is usually placed under the care of a Deacon or Elder.  If it is a couple joining, then a Deacon and his wife or an Elder and his wife should be chosen to disciple.  If it is a single woman or a single man, then a person of the same gender in leadership should step up to disciple new single members.  Elder's or Deacon's wives can attend to the new women converts or the Elder or Deacon and his wife can do the discipleship as a team effort.  The discipleship times should at least start out weekly and should cover the foundations of the faith.  It should have no time restraints and should become as regular or irregular or as long or as short as the discipled and the one who is discipling feel it should take place.  In the end, a beautiful Christian relationship should exist where confession, prayer, and fellowship are always welcome and trusted.  If that does not occur than discipleship partners should lovingly stop meeting and seek new partners to seek further maturation in Christ.     

       Fellowship is the net result of discipleship times and small groups and house fellowships among believers.  The focus of fellowship should be more on God than on self.  This is easier said than done.  Here are some simple strategies to keep this in view.  Center the fellowship on a particular truth of the Bible, also strive to make fellowship a learning experience, make sure testimonies will be shared, make sure there is adequate time to reflect on one another's lives, but also reflect on the work of God in the life of the family, church, and individual.  Make it a time of celebrations and praise, rather than requests and negativity.  Fellowship should naturally spawn Christian relationships that should overflow into everyday communication and life.  If it does not do that, then it is failing as fellowship.  

       Between the double action of discipleship and fellowship is the inevitable and necessary outcome of outreach.  Outreach is the most important part of discipleship.  The more mature Christian should bring the baby Christian under his wing to do outreach and ministry.  The young Christian will learn most from doing outreach with his older mentor in Christ. 

      The mobilization of disciples for outreach must first identify the Unchurched.  This strategy calls for outreach to start within the church family.  Rainer notes that:

One of the many surprises of our study was that one of the best connection to reach the Unchurched was Christian wives reaching their unchurched husbands.[5]

By including a bulletin insert to be placed in the offering plate, the identity of these "church family" unchurched can be revealed.  The bulletin insert would require every church attendee to write three of the closest people that were unchurched and their relation to this person.[6]  This would give an excellent foundation for both reaching the most receptive unchurched community and in time this foundation for outreach could produce many spiritually mature men to take leadership in the church.

       Secondly, a strong emphasis will be given to parents of children that attend the children's ministry at the church.  Every child's parent will be given the status of the child's spiritual growth.  This will be an opportune time for leadership within the church to identify the spiritual status of the parents and give them the opportunity to share the good news of Christ's death and resurrection.

     Thirdly, friends and coworkers will be outreached through events at the church or an event arranged by the church where they are invited.  An event could be a Bring-A-Friend service where a luncheon follows the service or a gender specific event that is evangelistic in tone.  Men can be reached by going on an Adventure Hike in Canada or women can be reached by going to an Arts and Craft Seminar, all of which would be evangelistic in nature. 

     Once this outreach within the church has been identified and evangelized, now it is time to reach outside the church's patterns of relationships with the ultimate goal of church multiplication outside of the outreach area.

      The unchurched outside the normal church's relations will be found by sending people out of the church to evangelize.  Evangelization to the unchurched not affiliated to church members will be completed by door-to-door and public place evangelism, help-needs ministry, and hosting events and seminars off of the church grounds.  Door-to-door evangelism and help-needs ministries (such as soup kitchens, habitat for humanity, etc) are executed within discipleship relationships and are not necessarily a church-wide event, although this could be a strategy also.  It is absolutely necessary that all help-needs ministries have the intention and purpose of evangelization NOT JUST meeting needs and helping others.  The needs of people in this world are secondary to their need of Christ.  Hosting events and seminars for things that can be secular in nature such as marriage seminars is the primary strategy to reach unchurched people.  The event will be cast in the guise of the need the seminar is trying to help (such as marriage problems, parenting issues, etc.) and then with love and precision the gospel of Christ is weaved into the seminar along with information on the church and encouraging visits to the church for more life-filling and life-changing adventure.  The event should always be held off the church grounds in order to reach the most reluctant unchurched and it can be held at universities, school grounds, fairgrounds, or other popular community meeting places.

       It is foreseen that these events would draw the unchurched to the church and then the unchurched will become Christians and become churched and so they will know many more unchurched that they will be able to reach.  So the process for church leadership will start all over again where they will have to discern the patterns of relationships in the church once again and learn to sustain and plan the facilities, ministries, and people for much growth.  And attention can be returned to reaching the most reachable in the midst of believers in the church, but eventually it will move to the outside again and the cycle will always keep spinning by the power of the Spirit.

     Lastly, as already mentioned ministry that is for helping others by meeting needs is a tool for evangelization outreach and a tool for spiritual growth among those in discipleship and ministry produces the edification of believers because of fellowship that occurs among those who work together to help people's needs for the cause of Christ.

Conclusion

       Now this strategy begins and re-begins with discipleship.  Discipleship is required to equip believers for those who are equipping.  Discipleship is the number one medium by which to energize Christians for the work of Christ Jesus.  It is discipleship to teach a small group and a new member's class and to interact with these people on an interpersonal basis showing interest and care and love in the concerns of their life and teaching them to show interest and care and love in others.  It is discipleship to hold members accountable and hold everyone to high standards within the body of Christ.  It is discipleship among the leaders to meet weekly in prayer and learn from one another in total submission to Christ and therefore one another in a spirit of meekness.  It is discipleship to teach the congregation to properly exposit the word of God and root them deeply in its doctrine.  It is discipleship to teach people to communicate with their God so that His speaking back to them changes their lives.  And discipleship is never complete unless the one who receives the discipleship is able to take a new believer under his care and see that he matures in Christ.  A disciple is a mature disciple when he can make other disciples and make a disciple sufficient to carry on the constant work of making mature followers of Christ.

       This is why mobilization is the act of making disciples and seeing them through to maturity.  Discipleship, outreach, fellowship, and ministry are not separate entities.  But they are interconnected because without one they all fail in some extent.  Without outreach, disciples cannot be made.  Without ministry, outreach and fellowship is left lifeless.  Without fellowship, disciples will burden and tire in their work for Christ.  Without discipleship, then nothing will function correctly.  The church would then be full of baby Christians and outreach would bear only little fruit.

      The most important thing for the implementation of this strategy is to recognize the cyclical nature of it.  One may complete the equip, energize, and mobilize phases, but if that it is true then the growth of the church has greatly multiplied and therefore the facilities will have to be modified, classes expanded, leaders rallied, new visions made, ministries added, and tons of missionaries sent out from the body.  The planning of a church plant should ensue.  The church should always have a Jerusalem and an international outreach view.  These church plants should not be left to the world, but the new church will need to be attached in a discipleship relationship until it can reproduce itself.  And so the new church plant will need to implement this strategy from the start.  And the mother church will need to implement this strategy again applying to its new situation in the world with new members and new leaders and so the cyclical nature continues until the return of our Lord. 

     Maranatha, I hope that when the Lord comes He will be pleased with His church because it will be able to be described like this:

But practicing the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ, who is the head. From him the whole body grows, fitted and held together through every supporting ligament.  As each one does its part, the body grows in love.[7]

Amen.

      

APPENDIX A

NAME:                                                                         Church Member:  Yes / No

1.  What is the vision for this church?

2.  What are your spiritual gifts?

3.  What do you think is the purpose of baptism? The Lord's supper?

4.  How do you 'fit-in' to Faith Bible Church?

5. How often do you share Christ with unbelievers per week?

6. Are you currently being discipled, by who?

7. Are you currently discipling somebody?  who?

8. Do absolute moral truths exist?

9. Is absolute truth defined by the Bible?

10. Did Jesus Christ live a sinless life?

11. Is God the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe, and does He still rule it today?

12. Is salvation a gift from God that cannot be earned?

13. Is Satan real?

14. Is Hell a real place?

15. Does a Christian have a responsibility to share his or her faith in Christ with other people?

16. Is the Bible accurate in all of its teachings?

17. What is the purpose for prayer?

18. Why did God create the world?

19. Why did God save sinners?

20. Was Jesus Christ God?

21.  Is Church discipline Biblical?

22. Is Church membership a Biblical concept?

23. How do you worship God as a family, together?

24.  Are you married, do you pray with your wife?

25. How many times a day do you pray? for how long?

26. How do you share the gospel with someone? What texts do you use?

27. Is the Holy Spirit God?

28. Do you believe in God as a trinity?

29.  What kind of faith is true faith?

30. What should a Christian's view be toward government?

31. What social issues should be of concern to a Christian?

32. What is the purpose of education?

33. What is one word that you would use to describe God?

34. Should Christians be accountable to the leaders of their local assemblies?

35. Is tithing required of a Christian in the Bible?

36. Is war and Christianity compatible?

37. Is there an intermediate place that people go to?

38. Do you speak in tongues?

39.  Have you ever been baptized by the Holy Spirit? Explain:

40. Have you ever given your testimony? When? To whom?

41. Have you ever been baptized? When? How?

42. Explain what it means for a Christian to be a disciple of Christ:

 

Bibliography

Hull, Bill.  The Disciple-Making Church.  Grand Rapids: Revell: A Division of Baker

House Company, 1990.

NET Bible. 1st ed.  A New Approach to Translation, Thoroughly Documented with

 60,932   Notes By The Translators and Editors.  Biblical Studies Press,

        www.bible.org, 2007.

Rainer, Thom S.  Surprising Insights From The Unchurched and Proven Ways to

 

          Reach Them.  Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001.

Rainer, Thom S.  The Book of Church Growth: History, Theology, and Principles. 

       

Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 1993.


----

       [1] This would be based on 2 Corinthians 3:18

       [2] Rainer, Thom S.  Surprising Insights From The Unchurched and Proven Ways to  Reach Them.  (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001.) pg.226

       [3] Or by the Deacon who oversees the family within the congregation.  See the discussion below.

       [4] Hull, Bill.  The Disciple-Making Church.  (Grand Rapids: Revell: A Division of Baker House Company, 1990.)  My thoughts on discipleship were strongly influenced by this book and various works by the Navigators.  Although, discipleship is an idea wrought by the Bible, God just used Bill Hull to communicate this truth clearly to me.  Keep in mind that the discipleship I advocate is not one in a legalistic fashion as many ICOC churches do today, but I primarily see it as a process of love and companionship as exemplified by God incarnate.

       [5] Rainer, Thom S.  Surprising Insights From The Unchurched and Proven Ways to

 Reach Them.  (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001.) page 227

       [6]  Rainer, Thom S.  The Book of Church Growth: History, Theology, and Principles. (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 1993.)  I stole this idea from Thom's Book of Church Growth; I thought it was an excellent idea.  I can name many women in my own church who I know have husbands that need Jesus.

       [7] Net Bible Translation; Ephesians 4:15-16

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