Church Growth

Yes, You Can Grow

(If you really want to!)

What would happen if someone made a scientific break-through and developed a cure for cancer? Do you think it would make news? Do you think it would get people excited? What kind of excitement would it cause?

I’m sorry to say that I have NOT come up with a cure for cancer, but I think I have come up with something as exciting in the area of evangelism! It’s certainly causing excitement with leaders and teachers in schools of preaching and Christian colleges and universities.

It’s called NEWSLETTER EVANGELISM and it’s going to revolutionize how we, as a brotherhood, look at and do personal evangelism. With this technique, any and every congregation that uses it can go throughout their neighborhoods, knock doors, have an extremely pleasant experience at those doors and find out who are the best prospects for sharing the gospel.

Friends sitting on the grass, enjoying an outdoors music, culture, community event, festival.

Don Myers of Faulkner University, who teaches the evangelism class to our future evangelists, said that he had considered door-to-door evangelism as a thing of the past and had dismissed its effectiveness ... until he saw what this approach accomplishes. Now the thing of the past is the way he used to present his class to his students at Faulkner. He is now working on revamping his entire class and making NEWSLETTER EVANGELISM a central part of the program.

Finding a cure for cancer is a medical scientists dream. Having this type of experience that I described earlier when I do door-to-door evangelism is the dream I have been living for almost 15 years. I’m so happy to have the opportunity to share it with the brotherhood over recent months. I don’t know why God picked me to bestow this wonderful approach with, but I am humbled by the fact that He did!

I’m going to share this with only the brotherhood, so don’t go sharing it with anyone else! I would hate for this to get into the wrong hands!

We can corner the market on personal evangelism if we can get serious once again about soul-saving. But if the Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, or others get wind of this, and they take the Great Commission more personal than we do, then God help us for dropping the ball that He has placed in our hands. PLEASE don’t bury this talent in the ground like an unworthy servant!!!

A cure for cancer would be groundbreaking and I’m going to let you be the judge on how groundbreaking you think this one is! I have discovered that if you pass out a series of 8 to 10 religious newsletters (one double-sided 8½ x 11 page) twice-a-week over a 1 month period anyone can then go into those neighborhoods, knock the doors, and find that the newsletters have totally changed the hearts of these wonderful people. You can have a conversation with these fine folks in an environment that is very pleasant for both the door-knocker and the person who comes to the door. These neighbors are happy to talk to you, and you are happy that they are happy... and that they are not turning the dogs loose on you.

You are probably thinking, “I don’t ever remember getting that kind of reception when I did door-to-door evangelism?” Well, it’s because you never properly prepared the field before harvest time. You can scatter seed all over Arizona and Nevada and not have much to show for come harvest time. But, with the proper preparation, you can grow cities in desert areas. Anyone ever heard of Phoenix or Las Vegas? It’s all a matter of laying down the proper foundation beforehand!

How does this miraculous transformation take place in these neighborhoods? What happens is that for a three month period, a couple times a week, these wonderful, highly interesting newsletters keep showing up on the front doors of your friends and neighbors. No one ever knocks these neighbors doors during this time period. By allowing people to take them into their living rooms, sit down on a comfortable couch or easy chair, or go back into the kitchen, pour a cup of coffee and sit down at the kitchen table and read these fantastic newsletters, we are allowing people to raise their awareness of our presence in the community in a very calm, low pressure, non-pushy, non-threatening manner. This takes your church to a place of prominence in the community. Before, most people weren’t much aware of your presence and you didn’t matter to most of them whatsoever. Now, for all practical purposes, you have become the most popular church in the community in MOST of their minds.

What do you then do with this new found popularity? You now go out into the neighborhood to meet these new found friends and neighbors with a six question survey inquiring what they think of the newsletters. Since these newsletters are such a hit with the community, they are happy to answer your questions.

Now within the survey questions you are going to confirm that most people read and like the newsletters. But, how they answer question number 5 will help YOU determine if they are prospects or not.

Here are the six survey questions:

1. Does anyone in your home read and like the newsletters, or do you just line the bird cage with them?

2. Who read them the most?

3. Do you ever share them with anyone outside your family here?

For a survey, one must have survey questions. The first three questions are not that important, but it makes it sound like a legitimate survey. It is a legitimate survey, but you are less concerned with peoples thoughts about the newsletters and more concerned with finding those people in the community who we can bring to Christ on His terms and into the family of God. Of course, the first question is quite cute, if I do say so myself.

4. Is there anything we can do for you and your family?

With this question you reinforce the idea that you care about them. Now they already have that impression about you and they will probably tell you that “all is well with their family, but thanks for asking.” Or, they might say, “My mother has cancer, can you pray for her?” You respond appropriately and then move to the next and most important question of the survey.

5. How are you and the Lord doing? If you were to die, or the Lord were to come today, do you know for certain that you would go home to be with Him?

This is where the rubber meets the road. You are going to know, based on their answer to this question, if he or she is a good prospect, a fair prospect, or a non-prospect. If their answer indicates that they have STRONG ties to some religious group and are not thinking of moving in any other direction, or they are not interested in any kind of religious commitment, they are not serious prospects.

A large percentage will fall into this category. That’s too bad, and that’s just life, but let not your heart be troubled! It will have been a nice exchange at the door, and you are looking for the wheat while disposing of the tares.

You are going to find a good number of people that are religious, or want to be, and have no strong ties to any one religious group. They might tell you that they used to “go to church, but not lately, and from reading the newsletters, they know that they need to draw closer to God.” Or, they might indicate that they are not satisfied with church that they are currently attending and they would be interested in visiting your church services. Or maybe God has never played an important role in their lives but the things they have been reading in the newsletters have gotten them to think more about God and life, and they would like to know more.

Whatever they say that would indicate that they are a prospect, make a note of that on the survey form for whoever might be doing the follow-up work.

6. Would you like more information about our congregation or churches of Christ?

Have something to offer people right then that would be appropriate, or make it a point to return soon with the requested material. This gives you another opportunity to visit and build a new friendship, and work toward a possible Bible study.

This concludes phases one (newsletter distribution) and two (the door-to-door/prospect finding survey).

In phase three you are free to use whatever study method you are most comfortable with in order to lead to Christ. My emphasis in this article is to show you how anyone can break down barriers and resistance that the community might have to any congregation and elevate it to the status of the most popular church in the community (in the judgment of MOST of the community members). From this vantage point you are then able to walk through that community with ease and confidence because you have first made the community “user-friendly” with this easy-going, non-pushy NEWSLETTER EVANGELISM approach.

A great way to visualize this approach is to think of some guy that wants to be married and his game plan is to walk up to every woman with whom he finds himself attracted to and tell her he wants to marry her. He thinks that statistically, eventually one will say “yes” to his proposal.

Now another guy who also wants to get married goes about it in a much more common manner. He finds someone to whom he is attracted, and he “courts her” over a period of time with the hopes that he may eventually win her over during the courtship process.

Guy number one may go through hundreds of women with his approach, and he may eventually find some prospective bride in the process. But guy number two doesn’t have to court dozens or hundreds of women because his approach is much more likely to win-over a prospective bride. The better the courtship, the better the chances of marriage. If there is no courtship, the chances of marriage are slim-to-none.

Isn’t this similar to what happens when people do door-to-door evangelism the old-fashion way? You go door-to-door looking for people to form a life-long religious relationship with. To the people in your neighborhood with whom you have never met, and don’t know anything about you, you are not someone they are likely to quickly form any type of relationship with at all. To them, you are more of an annoyance, a “how quickly can I get you to go away” kind of person.

Pursuing a mate and pursuing a prospect in the community, when done slowly, and in a non-pushy, non-threatening, loving way will produce much the same results. The prospective mate and the prospective community member is much more likely to be receptive to your proposal once they get to know you better and you have formed a relationship with him or her. This is what these newsletters accomplish.

This is what friendship evangelism is all about. When you think about it, what you are doing is forming this terrific friendship with your community before you pop that all so important question, “How are you and the Lord doing?”

In a recent example of one neighborhood of 160 homes, I had about 50 people from 19 of those homes who have since visited our services and/or had Bible studies with us. That’s about 2 ½ people for one out of every nine homes. Can you believe that this experience and those numbers are possible anywhere in the country? I can, because I’ve seen it and lived it. And Californians are less religious than most people in the country.

This is not rocket science. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. You softly break down barriers with this approach. And this is so very conducive to helping people to be open to you sharing of the Gospel.

What’s so great about this approach is that now preacher training schools can give their students something that will really work when they get out into the communities where they will work and preach. And these preachers can share the excitement with their congregations. Congregations can stop dying. We can run circles around other churches (denominations) in our area.

This will happen only if we don’t bury this TALENT that the Lord has so richly bestowed on us. If you are not afraid to grow, I can share with you more information on how to get started when you contact me.

Glenn E. Davis
Telephone: 501-230-8279

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