Engage the Lost as you Reunite
As you reunite as a church gathered, consider these areas of focus to share hope with the lost.
Encourage your church to pray for their “one” or someone that is far from God that they have connected with.
Challenge members to post their testimony or a one minute video testimony and attach a video fo the message of the gospel like this:
Plan a baptist celebration four to six weeks AFTER your first day back in the building to baptize anyone who wants to turn their life over to Jesus. Put “Easter Service” energy into it!
Make every effort to connect with every life who has been curious during this time and engaged in your online public meetings. Also, have members probe those who they have been praying for and sharing Jesus with during this time to determine any interest to follow Jesus as we come out of quarantine.
- Make a list of everyone who has engaged with your church during quarantine for the first time. Check Facebook Live stats and those who have commented on posts, etc.
- Have staff, leadership, and members reach out with personal messages and posts to invite them to gatherings leading up to baptism celebration as well as after the celebration.
- You may decide to do this outside, at a lake, or at a swimming pool. You may also choose to add a chlorine stick at the proper ratio for your indoor baptismal pool. (CDC reports no data to support COVID-19 virus has remained active in pools, hot tubs, or water play areas. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/parks-rec/aquatic-venues.html)
- Give self addressed stamped post cards for those being baptized to invite ten friends who do not go to church.
- Present the Gospel at the celebration and give a text in option for people to respond to the Invitation to follow Jesus. Use slicktext.com for an automatic text back to those who respond with a link to further information. Text “iHope” to 31996 for an example.
- Continue the conversation. Many of you have spent time during quarantine outside, building new relationships with your neighbors. You’ve learned their names, hobbies, and maybe even spiritual condition. Don’t stop learning. Continue building that friendship. Keep the conversation going.
- Add blank space into your schedule. Upon re-entry, many of us will fill our schedules will extended family, friends, work, and sporting events. Let’s not neglect the relationships that developed during quarantine with our family and neighbors. Be intentional with your time. Don’t fill it; leave blank space. Blank space will give you room to continue conversations across the fence, walk in your neighborhood, and build relationships in your front yard.
- Invite your neighbors to a small group. If you are like me, you have invested a lot of time and energy into building relationships with your neighbors. Many of your unchurched neighbors may have even “joined” your church for worship online. Now it’s time to move them from the virtual world of worship to the physical world. What is your strategy going to be? Maybe start by inviting them into a small group in your home. If you don’t have a small group that meets in your home then maybe now is the time to start one. Leverage those relationships and start a new group made up of your neighbors.
- Don’t rush the process. One thing I’ve learned during this time is that I am not the Holy Spirit. I can not convict someone of their sin, but God can. This is where prayer is your greatest tool. Hopefully, you have spent time on your knees consistently during quarantine. Don’t stop. Prayer is what will get you through the re-uniting process.
- Continue any new habits that you started. Our family has been hanging out weekly with our neighbors. Although a weekly hang out time isn’t probable once we all get out of quarantine, we are planning on doing a monthly get together to maintain those relationships. We have also been intentional in caring for our neighbors. It’s important to stay connected and to look for ways to serve and show the love of Christ.
- Potluck from the Past – Have a ‘favorite food missed potluck’ during quarantine gathering of 5-8 people an share everyone your testimony of God’s faithfulness last 6 weeks, weaving the Gospel into your overcoming fears in this time.
- Actively Listen and give room for sharing – Ask your ‘One’ who you have been praying to come to know Christ to share their doubts, reservations, or missing information about Jesus and why they aren’t a believer. This could open the door to know where God is working in their life and how you could join God in reaching them where they just want some answers.
- Set the date – Finally get that coffee you have been putting off for a long time with that lost friend or neighbor and hear their story.
- Get out into Creation – Plan a trail walk or hike with that lost friend or neighbor who you know wont join your group and just talk through creation and introduce them to the Creator.
- Faithful Fellowship with the Whole Family – Make it very personal by inviting a lost family to join you and your family to your home for games or an outing that your family enjoys so they can see the joy in Jesus through your fellowship and be intentional to have someone in your family do the 3 Circles illustration of the Gospel, preferably a youth (i.e. Phase 10 cards, bowling, skating, ax throwing, etc).
- CELEBRATE your high school and college seniors – Missing part of their senior year and graduation ceremonies has been very upsetting to students. Churches have the opportunity to bless seniors with small parties and alternate graduation ceremonies. Students who might not normally visit your church will be excited to celebrate with friends and you will have the opportunity to share the Gospel.
- CHALLENGE your college students to do big things immediately – They will rise to the level you challenge them. Do you need help relaunching? Challenge and equip them to get out in your neighborhood and share the Gospel. Even as we begin to meet physically again, there will still be many needs in the community and your church will be called upon to help. Engage your college students for these needs. They have the time and passion and you will be surprised how many step up to help.
- HELP them navigate next steps – It is challenging for college students to discern next steps under the best of circumstances. Many are questioning college and career choices because of COVID-19. Sit down with your college students and help them process these decisions. While you are discussing college, discuss their relationship with the Lord. You may be surprised how many need to hear the Gospel.
- PLAN big for summer – College ministry in the summer is sometimes fairly limited as college students are serving at camps, doing internships and travelling. This summer will be very different as students will not be able to find jobs. Plan to engage students more. From fellowships to outreach Bible studies, your students are more likely to respond this summer. Challenge them to invite their lost friends.
- INVITE your community – As you reopen to physical worship and activities, you will need help spreading the word. Why not deploy your college students to canvas the community inviting everyone to church? Students will be up for the challenge and it will help people know that your church is still active and moving forward.