Evangelism: Your Great Commission
Dear BPCWA worshipper, With COVID-19 restrictions in place for close to 2 years, we have not had the opportunity to evangelise as an organised church group as we used to. As a result, if you have noticed, our church calendar now reflects Evangelism Weekends in its stead. Someone recently asked me how will things be this year at Australia Day as well. As such, I thought it was important that we update our worshippers on the approach regarding evangelism moving forward. I am thankful that after the Church Study Series on “Chosen to Witness”, many of our worshippers see personal witnessing as their Christian duty and have seized every opportunity to witness to those around them. I hope that having understood God’s will in this matter, all of us will have a change of mindset on this. It is not just meeting the numbers, rolling out a program, nor just merely doing it when you’re pushed to or because someone asks you to, but something that comes naturally to you as a faithful and diligent bearer of the Lord’s good news. It is about genuine care of another because you want them to come to the same knowledge of the Saviour that you have come to trust. It is about inviting, following up, helping, and encouraging – a long-term effort of reaching out as a witness, as others have also done in reaching out to us. The evangelism committee’s role is to actively spearhead and promote an evangelism mindset and way of life amongst all worshippers, as well as to coordinate, provide, and facilitate the resources to enable worshippers to do so. What follows in this pastoral is a proposal by the committee of how not only they, but all of us, can be occupied in living a life of witnessing especially during the upcoming Australia Day, during the Evangelism weekends, and every day, as we live in these last days that the true gospel can go out into all the world. Your specific commission then is that you must at least bring it to this part of the world in Perth, WA.
Yours in our Lord’s service,
Past Australia Day Evangelisms. We used to give out tracts along the foreshore during the Australia Day public holiday because thousands of people sat for hours waiting for the Australia Day fireworks to start. However, over the years, the number of people coming early to the fireworks decreased and so we have had to re-evaluate this form of evangelism.
Australian Day outreach. For this coming Australia Day, worshippers are to organise some means of catching up with their contacts with the spiritual purpose of following up and sharing the gospel. Depending on the person that we are following up with, it could be just a one-to-one catch-up over a coffee or a meal. Or it could be a group activity with other families or individuals from church with similar interests or from a similar life stage. The activity can be as simple as a sausage sizzle or a BYO picnic or it could be at your house or theirs. Some have taken to walks while others may just go to see the fireworks together. Even though not organised, you still can, in your families or small groups, continue to do your evangelism on the foreshore as a picnicker or mingling around with those there. The activity should be suitable for talking, and we should endeavour and actively direct the conversation to share the gospel as that is ultimately the purpose of organising it. So, long cycling trips are probably not conducive.
Who you can reach. There could be those that have come to our church for the gospel meetings or for Christmas. While we often seem enthusiastic to welcome those that come to church, we often do not take the initiative to follow up with them outside of church when they are more likely to ask questions, seek clarifications and be receptive to our interest and concern for their spiritual life. There could be some that were once regular in church that we could use Australia Day to visit or otherwise follow up on. If after prayer no one still comes to mind or your contacts are not available to catch up on Australia Day, there are still opportunities to reach others because there are many people who will be out and about on Australia Day. If you are not sure where to go, you could consider spending some time in the vicinity of our church or your home. It could be as simple as saying hello to people as you walk past them while going for a walk or choosing to have a meal at a place near the church. You might start the conversation asking whether they live nearby and when appropriate, prayerfully bring up spiritual things.
Evangelism Weekends. We have stopped going for City Evangelism for over a year because the expectation to physically distance made it impractical to approach strangers in the city. Instead, we encouraged worshippers to use the time for personal follow-up and evangelism. When discussing the outreach for this year, we decided to make the outreach span across the whole weekend (hence, Evangelism Weekend). This is because Saturdays provide many opportunities for worshippers to arrange a gospel opportunity that is not available on Sundays. For example, we could start to reach out to more strangers while we are out and about on Saturdays, whether it be while shopping, studying, taking children to different activities, or going out for a meal. There are many familiar faces that we could have a longer conversation with and friendly strangers that we have not engaged. We want to encourage everyone to practice being friendly and intentional when we are in the community, knowing that God sovereignly brings people to us that we may be a witness to them. It is a sobering thought that in 200 years, without any exception, everyone we see today will be in either Heaven or Hell for eternity. Will they remember that we didn’t share the gospel with them when they are burning in Hell or will they be grateful that God used someone to reach out to them? When we show genuine interest in the life (and the eternal destiny) of those we meet, whether it be at a supermarket, sitting next to us at a restaurant, or someone providing a service to us, our conversation will naturally lead to the gospel.
What you can do. Our concern for their souls will be evident and that could cause them to take the next step. Inviting them to church is something we must not leave out. If we do, we miss out on the possibilities of ongoing engagements, and importantly, for them to be in a sound church if they come to know Christ as their God and Saviour. When we organise catch-ups with other people from church, we could also use these opportunities to invite those that have visited our church more recently. What a loss it would be if someone new to our church moved on to another church because of our lack of interest and kindness. By having evangelism weekend to include Saturdays, we have more time to invite them to our homes or out somewhere to find out how they are settling into our church and whether they have any questions.
With recent developments around our church, many that have not heard the gospel are walking past our church. Every worshipper can take the opportunity to greet them and ask them how they are. When people join the worship service for the first time, we should be ready to assist them as we would need if we were new to church. Welcome them, even sit with them if you can, and help them with the worship service if you are sitting nearby. Don’t huddle with your familiar group after the service, but instead walk over and talk to them, even if you are not sitting nearby. Engage the newcomer at a level that they feel comfortable. If the opportunity is there, you may even be able to invite them for lunch afterward or get their contact details to reach them during the week.
Gospel tracts usage. More commonly used gospel tracts are also now placed on the foyer noticeboard in the church so that you can easily reach a gospel tract when you are walking past on the way to meet a newcomer. There is a booklet that you can take, called “Sharing the Gospel” which will help you find the verses you need when sharing the gospel with someone. In the library, there are more “This Was Your Life” tracts that are in different languages for you to also use. There are paperback outreach Bibles in the library that we can give to a newcomer who shows interest in learning more.
We pray that in the coming year, we will all grow to be more effective in reaching out to the lost as we “watch… for we know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of Man cometh” (Matthew 25:13).