At what point did witnessing in order to win souls get reduced to "networking" in order to
get outside the walls, reach the community and take Jesus to the streets?
Those in our church fellowship do get outside the four walls and take Jesus to the streets
by making a constant steady effort to seek the lost, and share the good news with them, about what God has done for us.
As for reaching the community, well, God saves individuals--not communities.
In the last month, our church leadership has been approached twice by people more interested in reaching the community than in winning souls.
These people talk a good talk, but are they walking the walk?
They spend much time and effort running from "house to house" (church to church) sharing their "vision"
(promoting their agenda).
They stress unity. They claim to pool resources, they organize community functions--in
which no effort is actually made to win souls on site at their events.
Butch and I participated in two such events with this type of agenda--no more.
At the first one (we heard about it only a few days before the event, and joyfully agreed to join
in), the community response was overwhelming (as a good effort had been made to go door to door throughout
that community promoting the function).
There was singing and some witnessing done from the stage, lots of food and fun. We enjoyed it very
much. But we noticed a definite lack in the "one on one" outreach aspect
of working the crowd and asked if we could assist in that part of the next event.
Happily, we were told, "Yes." So we got busy and recruited
a witnessing team.
We created tracts that consisted of each team member's testimony (so that each of us would be handing
out our own personal testimony at the event--each team member committed to personally handing out at least 50 of their testimonies).
Each testimony included the gospel, some brief follow-up and contact information for
any who might choose to come to Christ.
We also created a special, very simple, colorful, salvation tract for children.
The witnessing team met once a week together (for a month before the function) to share a meal
and pray for souls. We each committed to fast one day a week for souls.
At our get-togethers, we discussed ways to open up conversations which we hoped would lead
to decisions being made, for Christ, at the event.
Since it was being promoted as a fun day, we hatched a grand plot (in order to be able to hand out
our testimonies without making people feel uncomfortable and imposed upon).
We bought some inexpensive goodies to pass out to both adults and children. We purchased 250 plastic shopping bags and recruited a team of "Bag Ladies" to pass out empty "goodie" bags to everyone
who showed up.
At the event, we announced from the stage what the "Bag Ladies" were going to be doing--that
everyone, who had a bag, would be approached by those with the goodies to help fill their bags.
Those in the crowd were happy to be handed an empty bag (some even came and asked for a bag before
the Bag Ladies got to them) and obviously looked forward to having it filled.
Each witnessing team member had a goodie bag of their own and was assigned to hand out one "goodie"
along with their testimony.
We were an excited bunch--ready to spend the day having a great time while aggressively reaching
out to souls, on a face to face--one on one basis, with the good news of the gospel.
The downside of all this, was that even though we were told, "Yes, help with the outreach," and
the young man who organized it joined the witnessing team himself and committed to passing out 50 of his own testimonies,
completely backed out when we got there, and refused to distribute any of the 50 testimony tracts we had created for
Not because he was intimidated by what we were doing, because we had succeeded in making it a pleasant
experience for all, but because (he said) he had decided he didn't want to offend people.
Instead, he strutted around the place, obviously all proud of himself, because he had been the one
to orchestrate this fantastic event.
We recently received a mass broadcasted email from this person asking for prayer because he was
going on a missions trip with his church, "...to take the Gospel
to the world, making disciples of the nations."
The pastor of his church was also clearly uncomfortable with the witnessing team's aggressive
outreach as well. You see, they had not planned this event with the intent of winning souls. They had planned
this event to show that their church was a friend of the community.
The leadership considered the aggressive soul winning we were attempting as counter-productive to
what they wanted to accomplish.
Jesus didn't tell us to be networkers to show how friendly and affable we are, he told us to be witnesses
of his death, burial and resurrection to show the way to salvation.
It appeared they were interested in impressing the community with what
a friendly church they were, but they didn't give a flying flip about reaching the lost by winning individual
souls to Jesus.
We were very disappointed with the attitude of the leadership,
and wondered how effective they were going to be in "taking the gospel to the world" when they were
so uncomfortable with taking it to single individuals right here in their own community.
What we were not disappointed with, however, was the response of the crowd to our witnessing efforts.
Before long, those of us who had followed through on our commitment to share,
with individuals, the good news of what Jesus had done for us personally, experienced
the joy of looking around and seeing a crowd
of happy faces... listening to the good
music... eating the good food... enjoying the goodies we gave them... standing all over the place...
Reading Our Testimonies!