ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–The North American Mission Board’s commitment to meeting human needs as an essential element of its evangelism strategy is being reinforced with the introduction of a new resource to make it easier for churches to implement a broad range of ministry initiatives.
“His Heart, Our Hands: A Ministry Evangelism Toolkit,” released in early February, combines a comprehensive introduction to ministry evangelism as well as specific examples and detailed action plans for a variety of proven ministries. Ministry evangelism includes everything from conventional food pantries and benevolence ministries to literacy missions, after-school tutoring, felt-need conferences, transportation ministries and pregnancy care centers.
“Every church of any size in every kind of location can be involved in ministry-based evangelism,” said John Yarbrough, NAMB’s vice president for evangelization. “The Ministry Evangelism Toolkit is designed to assist the church to put simple handles on the challenge of ‘meeting needs, sharing Christ.'”
Yarbrough noted the agency continues to assist nearly 90 community ministry centers across the country that are doing “tremendous work” in impacting their areas with the gospel. “However, the 45,000 SBC churches and missions are all ministry centers. If we can assist these churches to effectively meet needs and share Christ — wow, what an army of compassion!”
“Basically this is an Acts 1:8 strategy,” added Jerry Pipes, NAMB’s director of ministry evangelism. “This is mobilizing every Southern Baptist church to determine their Jerusalem, to equip them to discover every person who lives in their area of influence, and then to share Christ with them at the point of their need. And that can only be done through ministry-based evangelism.
“While there will be a lot of people who are ready to respond to the gospel, there will be a lot of others who will need a relational bridge built through ministry.”
Pipes emphasized that NAMB remains firmly committed to touching lives with the gospel through meeting human needs, citing continual increases in expenditures by the four-year-old agency. Over the past four years NAMB has increased the amount spent on ministry-based evangelism 15 percent — from $6.5 million in 1996, the last full year of the SBC’s former Home Mission Board, to $7.4 million last year.
The toolkit brings together many of the resources that have been available through NAMB in the past, but never in a coordinated approach that can serve as both a training tool and ongoing resource.
— The “His Heart, Our Hands Pastor/Leader Manual.” The first part of the manual presents information on how to prepare for starting ministry evangelism in the church. The second part contains 27 detailed ministry action plans for specific ministries.
— A video, hosted by NAMB President Robert E. Reccord, presents segments on successful ministry evangelism efforts in nine churches across the country. It concludes with a panel discussion moderated by Reccord about common issues faced in ministry evangelism.
— The “Servanthood Evangelism Manual.” Written by NAMB missionary David Wheeler, this manual details how simple acts of kindness — such as offering free light bulbs or car washes — can open opportunities for intentional personal evangelism.
— A CD-ROM containing a variety of additional tools, including inspirational sermons, an audio presentation on servanthood evangelism, Powerpoint presentations and clip art.
— Additionally, an Internet site is being developed with an eye toward the toolkit never becoming outdated. Individuals and churches are encouraged to submit their own ideas and experiences with ministry evangelism at www.namb.net/toolkit.
Gerry Hutchnison, manager of NAMB’s church and community ministries evangelism unit, said the concept for “His Heart, Our Hands” grew out of the agency’s desire to mobilize “on mission” Christians.
Although churches usually recognize the need for ministry evangelism, he said it often gets a low priority because it doesn’t fall under a specific program area — particularly in smaller churches with limited staff. The toolkit makes such ministries easier to implement rapidly.
“Our experience is usually these ministries are initiated by laypeople,” added Jean White, a NAMB church and communities ministries associate. “They see the need and they come to the church and say, ‘What can we do that will meet this need?'” The toolkit gives such lay leaders a blueprint for immediately following through on their calling.
Franklin Graham, chairman and CEO of the Samaritan’s Purse ministry, wrote in a foreward to the pastor/leader manual about the importance of more than just good intentions in fulfilling the work of evangelism — something his ministry has modeled from the start.
“This manual offers guidance to local congregations about how to [minister in Christ’s name] right in their community,” Graham wrote. “I’m confident that as its suggestions are put into practice, men and women will come to know the Savior.”
“His Heart Our Hands: The Complete Ministry Evangelism Toolkit” is available at a cost of $39.95 through LifeWay Christian Services at 1-800-448-8032 or through LifeWay Christian Stores.
(BP) photo to be posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: MINISTRY EVANGELISM TOOLKIT.