A number of years ago our evangelism committee challenged us to rename Monday night outreach with the name “Monday Night Live.”  The program begins with a meal at 6:00 P.M. and continues with classes clustered around the theme of reaching people.  It concludes with teams making visits to homes in our area and coming back to share the excitement of what the Lord has done.  We have completed more than twenty semesters of this program involving over 1000 people in some aspect of the program.

I am often asked by pastors how it is possible that we have sustained this program for so long.  Many churches struggle to complete even a couple of years of planned outreach.  My answer  is that you must create a culture of evangelism that is systemic to everything that you do as a church.  Some people would hear me say that and immediately think of evangelistic events.  This, however, is not what I mean.  To be sure, we need to do evangelistic events, but these events will only be effective to the extent that our people are already focused upon, and connected to, those that we need to reach.  We have as many or more professions of faith between the events as we do during events.  The only exception to that would be our annual Camp Crestview which works with over 1000 children and obviously lends itself to a harvest of decisions for Christ.  Even in that program the effectiveness of the event has been greatly enhanced by the continuous development of a membership with some expertise in evangelism.  It is very noticeable that they are confident as they lead children to understand the work of Christ and the proper response to Him in faith and obedience.

This semester, Tommy West, took my challenge to develop a course that I think would benefit any church; anywhere.  Tommy is our Minister of Education.  The course is USING HOSPITALITY TO REACH PEOPLE.  The gift of hospitality is a spiritual gift listed in Scripture.  It is commanded of God’s people in several places.  My favorite definition is “friendly space.”  Over the years, I have noticed how God uses the warm receptivity of God’s people toward guests to prepare their hearts to receive Jesus or to begin to be more faithfully involved in following him if they are already believers.  God impressed me that we could reach people more effectively if we intentionally trained our people as to how best to show hospitality.  The course is underway and it is a great success already with only one session being completed.  Our basic course has a strong contingent of first time students and we are well represented in our second level of training as well.  The basic course is the one I teach which covers the theology of evangelism and practical approaches to team and personal outreach.  The second level explores the connection between developing relationships and reaching people.  This semester one of our veterans of over twenty semesters, Randy McKenzie, is teaching that course.


Dan Wooldridge

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