February 22, 2013

How Will We Reach the Lost in Deprived Areas?

I often get asked how and why we have so many contacts and have so many unchurched people attending our services throughout the week. The answer is quite simple:

1. We pray for people. Are you really praying for people in your area, consistently, specifically, and intelligently? When I first came to Niddrie, I started an early morning prayer meeting on my own in order to pray for more contacts. I then prayed for the salvation of the contacts I made and then continued this process. It has now been a feature of our ministry (in a different format) for the last 5+ years. Now, even though I am not present at many of these prayer meetings, I have a team of people who are meeting every morning to pray for our area (and beyond). We pray for: contacts, salvation, openness to the Spirit to surprise us with opportunities, and for boldness with the gospel. Above all other strategies and plans, we must be praying.

2. We love all people, but play to our strengths. That seems so obvious that it shouldn’t need stating. But do you find yourself drifting naturally toward a particular kind of person? I do. Therefore, we have to check ourselves. Is our evangelism and outreach skewed? Are we loving all? Are we attempting to reach all people on our scheme? That’s why we need to build a team of different kinds of people, united under the gospel, who will reach a broad base and love all. Instead of guilting ourselves over the people we cannot reach, we should be celebrating the diversity of a team approach to this ministry. I have a mix of single parents, young couples, middle class people, an international person, indigenous people, and we are all reaching people the others cannot. A one-man band on a scheme may have success if his personality and gifting allow him to but, sooner or later, he is going to peak and the church is going to stagnate. Building a team helps forward momentum and keeps thoughts fresh.

3. We speak their language. “The transcendent love of God is inescapably drawing you to Himself in an act of cosmic grace.” A beautiful truth but completely lost on anybody outside the faith family. We reach our people by grounding gospel truths in everyday language. This is not the same as ‘dumbing down’ the gospel message. Nor is it ‘over contextualisation’. We communicate the truth in a way that is comprehensible to our listeners. If you are a cultural outsider to schemes, then take some time to listen to how people talk, observe the common phrases (apart from the usual litany of swear words), the stories they like to tell, and the humour they employ (super important). Then bring the gospel ‘home’ in ways they can relate to. God’s Spirit will do the rest (or not).

We continue to preach the glorious gospel of Christ in all of its simplicity and fullness, and we pray in faith that the Holy Spirit will draw God’s elect to the Heavenly Father for the glory and honour of both his name and his Word.

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