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15 Aug 2016

Changing your Community through Need-Oriented Evangelism


Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, “Follow Me.”

There is need of coming close to the people by personal effort. If less time were given to sermonizing, and more time were spent in personal ministry, greater results would be seen. The poor are to be relieved, the sick cared for, the sorrowing and the bereaved comforted, the ignorant instructed, the inexperienced counselled. We are to weep with those that weep, and rejoice with those that rejoice. Accompanied by the power of persuasion, the power of prayer, the power of the love of God, this work will not, cannot, be without fruit.

If you were to rate your church on a score of 1 (being terrible) and 10 (being effective) in regards to how well your church meets the needs of the unchurched in your community what score would you give? Be honest! We can plan and run great evangelistic activities but are they really meeting the needs of those to whom we have been called to be the salt and light? What are some ways we can intentionally practice needs oriented evangelism?

In my ministry I have learnt that there is one question and 5 essential words to meeting the needs in the community, “How can I help you?” When was the last time you asked that question to your friend, neighbour, work colleagues and houses in your street? For many members and attenders they just go about their day to day life and are never really active in their community. But when we intentionally seek to be present in our community as Jesus did and begin to mingle with and care for needs we open up new and exciting opportunities just by sharing Jesus love in a real, life changing way.

When thinking through how to intentionally practice needs-oriented evangelism, a great place to start is to encourage new Christians to get involved in evangelism. Why? Because these new Christians will more than likely know and understand the needs that the community has and how best to meet them. They don’t need a degree to evangelise they just need their testimony and to tell that wonderful story of how Jesus has changed their life to all those they meet and reach out to. In my experience I have found these new disciples to be the best source of inspiration as to how best connect with the surrounding community.

You need to identify the needs that exist in your community. Some free and easy ways to do this include visiting real estate websites and enter the suburbs surrounding your church and home, then click on a house in the area and scroll down, they will more often than not have a community profile that will give you insight into the needs that may exist. You might also drive around your community taking note of houses, cars, people etc giving you an insight into the needs that may be present. If you see overgrown lawns and gardens, run down houses and the like you immediately have an indicator of needs. Other ways you can find out needs is to connect with key community leaders including local government and councils. You might also wish to undertake a community survey asking the question, “How can we as a church better meet your needs?” you will be surprised what those around you may share and when you have this information it is gold and becomes the basis for your evangelistic planning!

Another important factor in meeting needs is prayer and intentionally praying for opportunities! Pray for your friends, family and neighbours who don’t yet know Jesus that you may see their needs and be given opportunities to meet them. If there is one thing we don’t do enough of, it is praying for those around us. Do prayer walks in your neighbourhood, leave prayer cards in letter boxes and/or knock on doors offering the gift of prayer. When you do, you open up opportunities for the power of the Holy Spirit to impact the community like never before.

Meeting the obvious needs in the community is an easy way to start. Do mini service activities in your community like cleaning front and back yards, painting fences, mowing lawns, holding kids fun days in the park, there are plenty of ideas you can do to meet needs. You might also seek to reach the homeless, needy and broken people in your community. In churches I have ministered in we have started various ministries that reach out and meet the needs of these people including burger vans, late night street vans, food parcel ministries, toy drives, tin can drives, welfare bus, food pantries and even exercises classes and groups all seeking to meet the obvious needs of those in the community and the amazing thing is it not only impacts the lives of those who you are meeting their needs but it impacts the lives of those who are serving them too.

It is also important that you have a clear and simple discipleship track that you will lead new Christians on to grow in their faith and relationship with Jesus. Don’t over complicate it. Keep it simple and keep it Christ centred as you want them to know Jesus and then make Him known in all you teach, say and do.

I have only outlined some brief and simple initial thoughts and insights that may assist pastors and leader to begin to identify and meet the needs of our communities. You may wish to take some of these ideas to your next board or personal ministries meetings where you can discuss and possibly implement some into your church and evangelistic planning in order that we the church may intentionally meet the needs of our communities and love them into a personal relationship with Jesus. You may have other thoughts and ideas for incorporating needs-oriented evangelism in your ministry and church, we would love for you to leave a comment and share them too.

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