When we started this evangelistic journey back in May we took a close look at the Three Spheres of Outreach which included: 1) The leader and the people they connect with during the week, 2) The church and those within their sphere of influence, 3) The unconnected, those who know nothing about the church and are disconnected with your people.
In each of these spheres we developed Three Strategies of Outreach, 1) The leader sets the standard through modeling, 2) The leader equips the church to reach into their relational spheres, 3) The church learns how to sow evangelistic seeds into the masses of unconnected people in their community.
If you are going to effectively equip your church for outreach you need to start with raising the spiritual temperate of their hearts. George Barna writes, “A church that strives to evangelize its community without saturating its efforts in prayer is like a race-car driver that jumps into his car at the starting line and discovers that the tank has not been filled with gasoline.” (Evangelism That Works, p. 128)
How does a church planter keep the evangelism tank filled with prayer? One way is for them to create a weekly email prayer letter to the new church family. It doesn’t need to be long and fancy, but it should be motivational enough to encourage the development of an outward-focused prayer life. Over the years I have collected hundred of prayer quotes, and I always include one at the beginning of my e-prayer letter. This helps to create a culture of God-dependence. As a leader it is our job to see the hearts of our people burn with passion for those who are far from God.
Here are a few ideas to help you equip God’s people in this area:
· Develop at least one corporate prayer project a year. For example: 8 weeks before a major outreach campaign have people make a public commitment to pray for 5 unchurched friends or family members, for 5 minutes a day, for 5 weeks.
· Make Prayer a Priority. Make prayer for the lost a priority in all leadership meetings, small groups, etc. Never have a meeting without discussing and praying for those you are building relationships with and seeking to engage in some type of spiritual conversation.
· Call a corporate fast at least once a year. Lead your church to fast for the rival and spiritual awakening in your community. It was the job of spiritual leaders in the Old Testament to call God’s people into a holy fast, a special time for God’s people to demonstrate their dependence on God to intervene, “Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord.” (Joel 1:14 NIV)
· Engage God’s people in the discipline of prayer-walking. It is away for them to see their community with a fresh perspective and is an opportunity for the Spirit of God to light a new fire in their hearts for their community. Just as Paul became distressed over the people who lived in Athens, so will your people become distressed over those who live in their city, as they walk and pray. (Excerpt: NextSteps for Leading A Missional Church)
Share some ideas you have used to increase the spiritual temperature of your people.