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FIRST-PERSON: When God moves

ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)–Every church should have evangelistic goals. To set goals, you simply calculate how many children, youth and adults you baptized in the previous year, evaluate how you reached them and then facilitate a plan to do a little better next year.

While every church should have an evangelistic strategy, no one plans a mighty movement of God. That’s what you hope and pray to see.

God let me participate in one of his movements a few weeks ago. Providence Baptist Church, a rural church off the beaten path, baptized 18 youth and adults in one week and has at least six children to follow up with concerning baptism.

The church’s pastor, Lonnie Cleveland may be 72 years old, but he works like he’s 25. He tirelessly visits and tells people about Jesus Christ. He prepared his church for revival through evangelism training and prayer, and God rewarded their efforts.

During the first service, we saw God save members of three families: a mother and daughter, a husband and wife and then two sisters. All were baptized that evening. During every service we saw people saved and lives changed.

The fact that Providence Baptist has 100 people in attendance on a good Sunday makes the revival even more special. For perspective, the church my family attends had approximately 1,000 in attendance for Easter services. In order to see the same kind of movement, our church would need to baptize 180 in one week.

It is amazing when God moves. The awesome thing is, He still does.

While we all want to see God move in extraordinary ways, the fact of the matter is that God chooses to reach more people through the consistent efforts of his people. It’s the week-in and week-out, faithful efforts of congregations to tell their communities about Christ which God selects as the norm. That’s why all churches need an effective evangelistic strategy.

What are some elements of such a strategy? The first element is an intentional, evangelistic prayer ministry. You may consider teaching a study like “Praying Your Friends to Christ,” available from the North American Mission Board.

The second element is evangelism training. When you select a tool, find one that includes methods for introverts and extroverts. For instance, “One on One: Evangelism Made Simple” produced by the Louisiana Baptist Convention and taught at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, gives learners multiple tools to share their faith. In six lessons, participants learn a simple Gospel presentation, how to share their testimony in person or on the internet at www.WhatIValueMost.com, how to use a tract or marked New Testament, the role of the Holy Spirit in evangelism, relational evangelism and evangelistic prayer. Your state convention’s evangelism department can direct you to similar tools.

Although other elements may be included in your strategy, one other element is vitally important. Provide opportunities for your congregation to use their evangelism skills. For those who are good inviters, have a church “Friend Day” or other special event. Bolder witnesses may want to go door-to-door in a neighborhood. Prayer warriors will get excited about a prayer walk. People inclined to relational evangelism will thrive on niche ministries like a golf ministry or a scrapbook class so they can invite their lost friends to participate.

While you are praying for a movement of God, remember to ask God for a plan to help your church members reach others for Jesus.
Keith Manuel is an evangelism associate on the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s evangelism & church growth team.

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  • Keith Manuel