Monday, January 14, 2008

Grandma Evangelism

Sometimes you think of the right thing to say, when the moment is over. Yesterday, on my way home from teaching about Need Oriented Evangelism I thought of the illustration that would have helped. It's one I've used in sermons and other classes.

I was trying to show the point that small churches don't have to think only in terms of "programs" to address people needs in their community. It works just fine when one person takes some initiative, or when "two or three gather in Christ's name" to be the church for someone else.

The church I served last, in the upstate, was a relocation and restart. A small congregation of about 50 moved from a declining mill village location to a new site a couple of miles away, but right in the middle of several growing sub-divisions. It was also right in the middle of several large established churches. The mostly elderly congregation had little to offer in terms of programs and classes, especially when residents could easily "shop" for what they wanted in the nearby churches.

What it did have was several Grandmas' with a desire to show God's love. When new residents would visit the church, the Grandmas would swoop in and connect with the children. They staffed the nursery, and told the parents, "You go worship while we take care of the kids." Many of the new residents were relocated to the area by their jobs, meaning the family grandparents were in other states. The substitute Grandmothers connected with the children, sometimes seeing them during the week - some even attending little league games.

With such connections in place, families began to join. It was only a trickle of one or two families at first. But those families soon brought new friends along with them. Within a couple of years there was a a solid base of members upon which to build. Now the church has about 500 in worship each week, so the evangelism of the Grandmas' keeps bearing fruit.

Needs Oriented Evangelism simply means that the discovered needs of "the stranger in our midst," "the least among us," and the one facing life without Christ trump the perceived needs of the church. Thus whatever church looses its life for Christ's sake, will gain it.

1 comment:

roadtripray said...

Reverend Taylor,

It was great getting to meet the real-live NitroRev in the flesh Sunday. You made a real impact on the Good Samaritan delegation. I was very pleased to see my fellow church members in that class. Our church really needs to reach out into the community, and discovering the needs of the community so that we can minister to them is vital.

Keep up the good work, and keep on blogging!