Being & Building Followers & Friends of Jesus
Over the past 18 months I have had the distinct privilege of helping to direct a national outreach initiative called Saturate USA. The ministry of Christ for All Peoples, due to the benevolence of some major investors, was able to supply Gospel resources to thousands of local churches to bring the message of Jesus to homes and apartments in their communities.
It was a divinely inspired move of God that resulted in millions of Jesus DVDs, Gospel tracts and participating church information beings distributed in cities from coast to coast. More information is available at www.SaturateUSA.org.
In my role, I was blessed to work with local churches in ten different cities representing the diversity of the body of Christ in America. I spoke to several large gatherings of pastors and directly with over 1,000 pastors. What a rich experience it was to work with so many churches interested in taking Gospel responsibility for their local mission field and seeding the Good News into every household in their ‘Jerusalem.’
Churches in cities as large as New York and Los Angeles, to small town rural America, were mobilized and resourced to reach their communities. They had one thing in common – they were participants in a simple evangelism outreach.
The reports back from the churches were, for the most part, a testimony of God at work. Recently, in a meeting in Cleveland, one pastor gave testimony that her church saw eleven new baptisms as a result of their outreach. Another church in northern Idaho gave testimony to three “dechurched ex-pastors” returning to church and becoming new members. A church in Deland, Florida saw 50 ‘decision for Christ’ in just two weeks. There are many other such reports.
Many pastors have described the personal renewal of their members and revitalization of their churches that has taken place as they left the building and went out into their communities. One report from Houston described how volunteer numbers doubled on their second outreach due to the excitement generated by their first. Another expressed new enthusiasm for outreach in their church that had not previously been involved in an evangelism outreach.
One pastor shared with me that he had tried for four years to get his people to share their faith with little success. But then he found out about the simple outreach offered by Saturate USA and his people got excited. They completed reaching every home in their zip code and are now expanding their mission field to the next.
From my experience with Saturate USA, I want to make four observations:
I believe that Saturate USA represents a “first wave” of God’s moving in our day to thrust the workers out into the harvest field. The Lord providentially removed all the barriers to enable pastors and their congregations to get out into the waiting harvest.
Is more necessary beyond material distribution? Of course. When I spoke to pastors over the past year, I would refer to 1 Corinthians 3:6 where Paul tells us that he planted the Gospel seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. Paul describes a simple process.
I am reminded of Luke 10:9 where Jesus gives two very simple instructions to the 72 disciples. Jesus tells them to go heal the sick and tell them the “Kingdom of God has come near.” They were to demonstrate God’s power and presence where they were welcomed. But in order to find out where that was, they needed to visit an unknown number of households. There was no thirteen-week training program, no expectations yet for more. They were given a simple task and the power to complete it.
My experience tells me that we make a mistake when we set the bar too high for the average believer to participate in evangelism. When we emphasize training, equipping and disciple-making we set a high bar that we expect people to jump over. The majority are not ready. However, give them a simple task and watch the number of volunteers increase greatly. Many people want to be involved in evangelism when given a simple opportunity. Then they overcome their fears and are excited to do more.
One comment I heard often from pastors after their distribution and their members had returned from the outreach was, “Pastor, this was fun, can we do more!” I would suggest to these pastors that now their people were ready to be trained. Likewise, Jesus’ disciples returned from their simple outreach filled with joy. (Luke 10:17). Those same disciples then changed the world.
The K.I.S.S. principles works. Keep it simple, Saints! That is if you are a pastor who wants to see more of his people excited about and involved in the task of evangelism. Then they can change their neighborhood and maybe the world too.