Next month, we are instituting and important change in our GRACE outreach ministry. We have had this Evangelism ministry in place since 2007, and it has served our community and our church well. For our newer members, GRACE is a ministry composed of 4 outreach teams (Designated by G, R, A and C) and one prayer team (Designated by E). One of the four outreach teams goes out every week to follow up with those who have visited us and to make evangelistic contact with families that are new to our community.
The change we are making is one of schedule. Right now, our teams go out on Tuesday evenings at 6:30pm, but beginning in April, all teams will go out on Sunday afternoons at 3:00pm. There are multiple benefits of this change. First, it will keep participants from missing a weekday evening with their families and from interrupting the evening activities and meals of our prospects. Second, it will keep our teams from ever making visits after dark. Third, Sunday afternoons are simply a better time to find people at home and accessible for conversation.
The benefits of a well-organized Outreach Ministry are obvious, but many of us still tend to make excuses for why we cannot be a part of this kind of ministry. Here are a few of the more popular ones:
Excuse #1: I don’t have time to be a part of an outreach ministry. That is why we have structured this ministry the way we have. We recognize that going out every week for visitation could be cumbersome, but ONE afternoon a month, a mere 24 hours A YEAR, is not too much for anyone. We are capable of making room in our schedules for activities that are far more frivolous, so lack of time is not a valid excuse. Also, Sunday is already a day of worship and ministry, so we are no longer asking you to take another day out of your schedule to be a part of GRACE.
Excuse #2: Evangelism isn’t my spiritual gift. I hate to break this to you, but there is no such thing as the spiritual gift of evangelism. In Ephesians 4:11, Paul refers to the gift of the “evangelist” which is a God-called individual fulfilling a biblical office in the church, but we all are called to “do” evangelism. Remember what Christ said in Acts 1:8 – We are His “witnesses”; it is part of our new identity in Christ to proclaim His gospel.
Excuse #3: I haven’t been trained to do evangelism. If you have personally trusted in Jesus Christ and know the basic elements of the gospel, you have plenty of training. You will also be on a team with others who are trained, experienced, and who are comfortable in initiating spiritual discussions. Plus, experience is the best teacher; getting out there and doing it is the best training!
Excuse #4: I’m uncomfortable or afraid to talk to people about their salvation. A lot of people feel this way because they feel unprepared to explain the Bible or answer difficult questions. We must simply remember that God is with us. Saving people is His work; our work is simply to share the truth. Also remember that you won’t be alone. You will be shoulder-to-shoulder with your fellow team members and you will have all the support you need.
Excuse #5: I need to take care of my children, and therefore can’t go. Great News! The “R” team has childcare provided in our nursery for infants through 5 year olds. If any of your children are older than that, take them with you. There is no greater example you can be to your child than including them in engaging people with the Gospel. You will be training them to be future witnesses. If nap times are too crucial, another solution is to alternate. Let your spouse go one Sunday afternoon a month and you go another so you can alternate in taking care of your children.
Excuse #6: I don’t believe this is the best method of evangelism. I would tend to agree with you. I’ve said publicly that the best method is for you to be sharing the gospel and making disciples wherever you find yourself — with your neighbors, your co-workers, your classmates, your family members, and your acquaintances. If we were all being obedient in this way, no church-based outreach ministry would be needed. However, 98% of the time, you who are making this excuse aren’t doing evangelism this way. In fact, you’re not doing it at all. In the end, you are simply attempting to excuse your lack of obedience in this area on the basis of a methodological preference.
In the end, there are no good excuses for not reaching out to people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So pray about your involvement in this great ministry opportunity and sign-up now to be a part of a GRACE outreach team. I love you all dearly!