January 25, 2022
Pastor Justin Waples
How can Sunday Worship be both a place for Outreach and an encouragement to do Outreach? How do we first go to our neighbors and attend their events (sports, concerts, parties) before we ask them to come and attend our “church” events? Sam Chan (Ph.D., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is the author of Evangelism in a Skeptical World and How to Talk About Jesus (Without Being That Guy) and offers some great suggestions for us!
Matthew 28:19-20 says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Usually, when we try to tell our friends and neighbors about Jesus and the Gospel, we go at it solo. We want to tell people about Jesus and we get fired up and join a football team, a movie club, or a cooking class. But the problem is that often you’re the only person in the room who believes in Jesus and although what you believe in is true, it comes across as unbelievable to those who have not received the truth when you share it. Never mind if they are guilted into coming to your Sunday Worship service and feel completely out of place and awkward.
First, what we need to do is to merge our universes. Oftentimes Christians have two different universes. On the one side are the Christian friends who go to Sunday Worship together and the other is our non-Christian friends. So when our Christian friends go to the movies we go with them and when our non-Christian friends go to the movies we go with them. But instead, we need to merge our universes, so our friends become their friends. So, when our Christian friends go to the movies, we invite our non-Christian friends along. When our non-Christian friends go to the movies, we invite our Christian friends along. And bit by bit we merge our universes so that we’re not the only Christian friends our friends have and over time our testimony of Christ becomes more and more believable.
This is a lifestyle change that spills into and out of our Sunday Worship services. Let’s say you have a group of work friends in the office, school, or business you’re in. Whenever you go out with them, seek to invite your Christian friends along, and when you go out with your Christian friends, invite your office, school, or business friends along. Over several years, your non-Christians friends will begin to see and hear the Gospel more and more. This will make the invitation for someone to come to Sunday Worship much less awkward as the whole group is going together.
This takes about two years to proactively merge these universes and create a trusted network of friends. We often think of Outreach or Sunday Worship as an event we invite someone to. It is like trying to get fit. Each year we make a new resolution to get fit. We get fired up to go for a 5 am run and we sign up for a gym, but it is unsustainable because it is something we added to our lives. When if we really want to get fit, our whole lifestyle needs to become fit. It is the same with Outreach and inviting folks to Sunday Worship. When we think we need to add an event to our life, or the church needs to add an event to our calendar, we’re really asking for a lifestyle change where our whole lives become evangelistic. This is how the Church becomes more evangelistic – when we merge our universes and our Christian friends become friends with our non-Christian friends.
Secondly, we need to go to our friends and neighbors before they come to us. We need to go to their things before they come to our things. Typically, as Christians, we feel pressured by the Church or our impression of Outreach to bring our non-Christian friends and it becomes so hard. However, if we are always going to their things, then the pressure is off from inviting them to our things. So, when our non-Christian friends and neighbor’s kids have a youth fundraising night, go to the fundraising night. When there is a sports event, go to the sporting event. If you begin going to their things, they will begin going to your things. Sew yourself into these events and their lives, sign up for their rosters, and throw yourself into their culture, get involved, and bit by bit they will trust you as the de facto chaplain where you can serve them and won’t feel put off when you invite them to join you for Sunday Worship.
Pastor Justin Waples is East White Oak’s Outreach and Discipleship pastor. He is married to Abigail and they are blessed with three children. Justin is passionate about equipping the saints for ministry and helping each member reach out and connect with their neighors and community.
February OakLeaf Articles:
Preparing for Sunday Worship by Pastor Scott Boerckel
Sunday Worship as Outreach by Pastor Justin Waples
Worship, It’s Good for the Soul by Pastor Jeff VanGoethem
Music in Worship by Paul Jones
Worship from the Psalms by Craig Nelson
Parenting In the Worship Service by Jon and Pam Scott
What I Miss About Physically Gathering for Worship by Janet Schlagel