This is part of a series of interviews with pastors of churches whose attendance has grown 20% or more in 5 years. We hope this series will be a resource of ideas to help increase worship attendance at your church.
A Four-Fold Approach to Christian Evangelism
- 1. Outreach and Servant Evangelism
At Argyle United Methodist Church, we believe that our effectiveness in evangelism is directly related to how positively we are impacting the lives of the children, youth and adults in our community. Engagement begins with our members, who are encouraged to get involved with our local schools, neighborhood associations, non-profits, and businesses so that they can help our church find creative ways to serve others and offer Christ to the people who live and work in our mission field. To assist in these efforts, our Faithworx ministry team helps identify needs, coordinate service projects, solicit volunteers, and secure the funding we need to relieve suffering as Jesus did. In addition to participating in our ongoing missions, each one of our church’s ministry teams is asked to sponsor at least one servant evangelism event a year. Efforts like our “Spice up the winter” salsa give-away, reverse trick-or-treating, neighborhood pool parties, and outdoor movie nights have helped our church reach out to hundreds of families. On a much larger scale, each year we choose a Sunday to “cancel” church so that we can go out to “be the church”. We call this our Great Day of Service. To learn more about “servant evangelism” visit Steve Sjogren’s website www.servantevangelism.com.
- 2. Invitation and Hospitality
This emphasis on “being the church” has helped keep us mindful that as followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to go out and seek others…not just hope and pray that they find us. As such, the first element of our strategic plan is to “Introduce people to Jesus”. Every week in worship, members and guests are encouraged to invite their friends, neighbors, co-workers and relatives to join them at the next worship event or ministry opportunity. To help reinforce the importance of being an invitational church, we often highlight stories that involve “recognizing” the members who are bringing others to church and tell the stories of “how” others are being invited to experience Christ here at AUMC. Once people arrive, we have an extremely active hospitality team that includes parking lot attendants, door openers, greeters, ushers, welcome center volunteers, and a kitchen crew that provides an array of refreshments that would rival most hotel continental breakfasts. We also encourage all of our church members to wear nametags so that they can easily identify and welcome new guests. All this is designed to let people know that they are welcome at the table of the Lord. For more information on the concept of radical hospitality as well as some other very important practice that we have adopted here at AUMC, please check out Bishop Robert Schnase’s book Five Practices, or logon to www.fivepractices.org.
- 3. Discipleship and Spiritual Formation
In addition to making sure that we are invitational in our approach to ministry, we also recognize that our church is ultimately measured by the quality of Disciples we produce. As such, we commit much of our time and resources to the spiritual formation of our children, youth and adults. Spiritual formation is a top priority for us. For example, bibles are presented to children in Kindergarten and again in fourth grade. In addition to their involvement in Sunday school and Wednesday evening service opportunities, all of our fourth graders covenant to participate in a six-week introductory bible course. Each year, Confirmation classes are offered for seventh graders and for older students who haven’t been confirmed or want to re-affirm their commitment to Christ. We also conduct new membership classes each month and every adult member of our church is encouraged to complete Disciple 1 (a 38-Week discipleship class offered each year). To date, 150 of our members have taken Disciple 1. Currently we are working to develop a shorter 16 week course that will be offered each semester. These intentional Discipleship efforts are having a huge impact on how we are engaging the spiritual needs of our mission field. Accordingly, we are thankful for the opportunity to be about the work of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
- 4. Simplifying our Approach
In an effort to help our church members get over the fears and insecurities that are often associated with a multi-faceted approach to sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we have made an intentional effort to clarify what we consider to be our single-most important responsibility as Christians. Simply put, our job is to introduce people to Jesus. Once we have done that…Jesus has a miraculous way of taking care of the rest.
Argyle United Methodist Church
Pastor email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Church website: http://www.argyleumc.org