Outside the Church Walls

Tony Morgan posted these thoughts the other day on his blog TonyMorganLive.com

“I’m wondering what would happen if rather than focusing so much on transferring knowledge, we focused on helping people love God, love others and make new disciples. What would happen if we asked people to spend less time at the church and more time in the lives of people who need Jesus? What would happen if we offered fewer gatherings to transfer knowledge and more tools to help people study the Bible on their own? What would happen if there was less emphasis on church activities and more emphasis on reaching the world for Jesus?”

The last sentence is what really struck a cord with me. “What would happen if there was less emphasis on church activities and more emphasis on reaching the world for Jesus?”

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It’s easy when you work in ministry to confine your influence and reach inside the church walls. Oh, we might send out fliers and mailers to the community inviting them to the church, for an event, but that’s just an invitation. Some people, no matter how fancy the flier, or how many of their friends invite them, will never step inside a church until they get that nudge from God. And that means we need to bring God to them.

A little more than a year ago, I determined to make this a priority in my life both personally and professionally. 

After all Jesus is the best example of someone who took the gospel beyond the synagogues mentioned in Matthew 9:35. He taught on the Mountain sides, in peoples homes, in the marketplaces, in a cemetary, on a lake, in the grainfields and on the roads. Everywhere Jesus went he was preaching and teaching the gospel. He took every opportunity to share his message with others.

Sometimes I set out intentionally on a mission to share the gospel and other times, like Jesus, I’ve learned to take advantage of opportunities when they arise. Here are some of the ways over the last year that I’ve stepped outside my comfort zone and worked to bring Jesus to the people on the other side of the wall.

Desert Trips (Camping) – In Southern California a popular past time is to take ATV’s out to the desert and ride bikes for the weekend. When we started doing this more than 13 years ago, we never intended for it to be a ministry. But throughout the years we’ve seen at least 3 or 4 people come to know Christ through our influence and we’ve had amazing, deep-rooted Biblical conversations with countless others. 

Way of the Master – I took a Way of the Master class at our church and it has given me a greater understanding and ability to share Jesus with confidence. I’ve used the techniques I’ve learned to share with my children’s friends, and with kids I’ve met through my face painting ministry.

Face Painting (www.whimsicalfaces.com) – I love to be creative, so I taught myself how to face paint and I do it for free at local events. I’ve painted at the Mother Goose and the Rose parades. I partnered with Child Evangelism Fellowship for Octoberfest and Way of the Master Ministry for the car show. I’ve painted on mission trips and I’ve supported local school events. As kids sit in my chair, I talk to them about Jesus, share with them the gospel and tell bible stories related to their painting. If I’m painting in my local area, I then give them an invitation to come visit me at my church. I’ve taken this ministry to a new level by training others to do the same. Now I have a team of 8-10 painters who can come do events with me, which just increases the impact we can have for God.

School Clubs – My latest endeavor has me partnering with Child Evangelism Fellowship so I can bring some Good News Clubs into our local schools. Be praying for this one. We are 75% there to starting our first club at Rios school. I’ve also joined the committee for the local chapter of Child Evangelism Fellowship and am looking forward to networking with other people who also want to get outside the church walls and reach kids for Christ.

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Face painting is my favorite way to reach people. Being out in the public, with random people is so interesting, informing & thought-provoking. It has helped me understand better where the world is at, what’s important to them, and what they think about spiritually. 

We had a group of teenagers approach us at the Octoberfest for the free painting. While I painted them all up, the CEF ladies talked to them about Christ. These were some rough-edged kids. They all had a goth look to them, and some wore occult like symbols in their jewelry on their t-shirts. They seemed truly engaged with the conversation and asked really good questions. After about 20 minutes of sharing with them 4 of the 9 kids accepted Christ. Amazing!

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I encourage you to find ways to use your gifting and talents to intentionally and unintentionally reach people for Christ outside the church walls. When you figure out what you want to do, or how you are already doing this, leave me a comment so we share our ideas with others.