Holidays are excellent times for reaching out to a community. Many churches do this through concerts, productions and other special events. But those occasions are dependent upon members of the community being willing to darken the doorway of a church, and often, many aren’t willing.
Some time back, we received a report about three churches who wished to bless their communities in a practical way by providing them with a clear gospel presentation. We want to share their story so others might be inspired to bless their communities in a similar fashion.
Located in a rural area, these three churches represented two small towns. They had heard of the booklet What are Christmas and Easter all About? and felt that the book’s explanation of the gospel was both concise and clear. By reading the 80-page booklet, a person could come to a good understanding of the gospel. (GoodSeed also has just produced a variant of the booklet, 64 pages in length, uniquely illustrated with line art and titled The Story that Matters, ideal for giving away at any time of the year.) Both books are priced to be given away in large quantities, so purchasing a large number only requires a modest budget.
The church groups had several goals as they set out on this journey. First, they knew God had called them to reach out to their communities in a missionary spirit. God had not meant for them just to extend an invitation and expect the world to show up; they were to actively reach out into their world about them and share the gospel. These believers had a desire to be obedient to the Lord in this way, specifically desiring to reach both towns in their entirety. With such a tool as Christmas & Easter, they felt this goal was very achievable. They determined that they would assemble in a bag the booklet with some church-related information. Then, in one evening, they would hang a bag on the door of each household of the two towns.
Secondly, they wanted to cooperate together to make their communities aware of the many programs available to them through these churches. One church had a strong ministry to young children; another had developed a thriving outreach to seniors; and the third had built up a strong youth group. A flyer was created to highlight these ministries as well as several others. Also included was contact information and service times for each church.
The third goal was to involve as many as possible from each congregation, with an emphasis on the youth. Children aged ten and up were organized into small groups of two or three. The plan was to have one or two adults accompany each group as they distributed the bags.
One question that had to be answered was, “How many households are we looking to reach?” The information was easily discovered through the local newspaper office, which was kind enough to provide exact numbers as well as details regarding its paper routes. This was a huge help as the churches wanted their deliveries to be both accurate and efficient.
Finally the night came, a cold wintry evening near the end of November. Dozens of individuals, young and old, started out on their routes. One church family, who lived in a centralized location, opened their home to those making deliveries. Not only did it become a place to stop and enjoy some hot chocolate, but provided a natural impetus for giving quick reports to an appreciative audience. Excited teenagers and their adult chaperones came and went all evening, telling of barking dogs, the blackness of the night and the excitement of being a part of something much bigger than themselves. Despite the cold and dark, each one was serious about his or her mission and committed to finishing the job. One teenager said, in a moment of quiet revelation, “We’re missionaries, you know!” This was the Great Commission in action and each was thrilled to take part.
In all, the three churches delivered 1300 bags to the two communities. That meant 1300 homes received a gospel presentation. Many booklets were read. Others were filed away on bookshelves, perhaps to be be re-discovered later as the Lord prompted hearts. Some may have been tossed aside. Regardless, each church member came away with the confidence that they had been obedient to the Lord. They had spread the seed of God’s Word; now, it was time to pray and see what the Lord would do in each home.
Slowly, encouraging reports began to surface about the impact of the outreach. One elderly congregant, Edith,* related a conversation she had with a neighbour a couple of weeks later. The lady expressed a real fear of death. But then she made an observation about Edith, “You’re not afraid to die, are you?”
“I’m not eager to die, but no, I’m not afraid of it either,” was the calm response.
The lady confided, “I’m terrified of dying.”
“Do you remember receiving a bag at your door a couple of weeks ago, with a booklet in it?” Edith asked. “Did you ever read that book?”
“No,” her neighbour replied. She had tucked it away on the shelf with barely a glance. Edith assured her it would give her some answers about death and life after death.
A week later, Edith heard from her friend again. This time, a sense of relief and appreciation was expressed for the booklet the lady had received at her door. “Now I understand about death and life after death.”
Other such encouraging stories have trickled in, demonstrating to those involved that the Lord is indeed at work. God is blessing their obedience and will be faithful to nurture the seeds that have been sown.
Discover the Answer plastic bags (Small bags ideally suited for hanging booklets on doors. Available in Canada only.)
(*Name changed as per GoodSeed policy.)