Spontaneity is wonderful. Jesus was spontaneous in his approach to reaching people. There is plenty of evidence in Acts that God also values planned outreaches. Paul heard from the Holy Spirit that he was to reach out to certain cities to establish churches. Later he heard again to reconnect with many of the same places.
Not long ago I connected with a leader in the world of outreach. I told him and a group of other leaders about some of the things we are doing to reach our city. I was amazed that he guffawed at our efforts. His response? “We would never do something ineffective and organized like that. Our style is to just hang out with people and out of that try to become people’s friends. After we become their friends they will naturally become Believers.”
Hung Up on Hanging Out?
I understand his strategy. I buy his line of thinking, at least to a degree. I see another side as well. There are tens of thousands nearby all of us that the Holy Spirit is interested in reaching with the Gospel of Jesus. There isn’t enough time or manpower to depend on the “hang out” strategy alone. Yes, let’s hang out. As the popular saying goes, let’s do life together. The problem is this: If we depend on that approach solely there will be countless people not touched with the love of Jesus.
As with most things in life, this is not an either-or conundrum. It’s a “both-and”. Let’s scatter seeds of kindness in practical ways throughout our cities. God’s kindness leads to repentance (Rom. 2:4). Let’s share the gospel message a LOT in organized and spontaneous ways. Let’s also hang out with people to be their friends. We will need to persevere with people in order to see them come to faith.
“It will take 12-20 revelatory events for most people come to know Jesus.”
The people of your city require lots and lots of touches before their spiritual light comes on.
It concerns me that planned and scheduled outreaches have lost favor with many outreach leaders in recent times. Some have come to the conclusion that it is somehow more spiritual to not work from a plan in outreach.
To some, it seems a little too structured to announce that a group of people are gathering at a given time to reach out to the city. I thought that way at one point. That was before I saw the enormity of the task at hand. I fear that many who are inclined to only be spontaneous don’t see the largesse of the task at hand. There is a lot for us to do if we hope to see those tens of thousands touched 12-20 times.
Let’s get to work!
I agree. It seems that many people have a negative attitude towards the church and its organized events. I mean, I understand, I think anyone who has been in the church for any amount of time has been disappointed by something or someone. But sometimes the church needs to be forgiven just like we do. I have seen so many people come to Christ through the Church and its organized events. And I know it still Gods plan to save the world. I know it not perfect, but I also know I’m not perfect and I’m the Church. Thanks for this encouraging reminder.
Yes. scattering seeds. That is the crux of it. found in the parable of the sower as taught by Jesus Himself! It is God’s concern if, how, when the seeds sprout and grow.
Perhaps the aversion to “scheduled” outreach is that, for a period of time, it mostly was connected with “word” only evangelism – handing out tracts, preaching on corners, cornering people in alleys and coffee shops to “witness” to them. “Deed & word” outreach is more demonstrative of God’s love – and actually motivates people to want to engage you back (perhaps initiating the cycle of “hanging out”). “Ineffective” is a tremendously improper and unfair way to characterize what happens when you decide to gather together (consistently) to go clean toilets, etc… as a practical way of showing that you love someone you don’t even know. On the contrary, I have seen it implode people’s preconceived notions of christians and motivate them to engage in meaningful conversation that leads to a real “witness” of God’s love in “word.” It was only possible because of the planned deed-doing.
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