We can easily lose the vision of God’s calling: to seek and save the lost. We are called to be salt and light to the world, but to do so, we must exit the saltshaker—not abandoning fellowship, but serving our communities, forging relationships with unbelievers so that we might witness to them.
Reaching out to your community is considered the second law of effective outreach. In order to communicate the message of the Gospel to the unbelieving world, we must make contact.
Acts 2 gives us a great example of witnessing to the community. When the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost, 3,000 God-fearing Jews became Christians. God worked the timing, audience, method and message for greatest impact. As you seek the Lord’s guidance on your personal and church outreach efforts—pray over these components as well.
Four Principles of Strategic Communication
1. Strategic Timing: When will there be the most interest? Prepare for these times.
• Acts 2 Example: The occasion of Pentecost (also Shavuot, the day that God gave the 10 Commandments to Moses) was a time of Jewish gathering.
• Opportunities: Consider times in your community and culture when people are more responsive to hear the Word.
o Religious Holidays: Often commercialized, people will still tend towards some spiritual thought.
o Secular Holidays & Local Events: Opportunities to provide fun events or support for families when work, daycare and school schedules change.
o Shared Cultural Experiences: Use the common language of culture to make a connection (i.e. Sports, Facebook, television, film).
o Altering Events: Meet people in times of change, stress or need, such as a death, job change, marriage, divorce, injury, new baby, and moving.
2. Targeted and Receptive Audience: Who will be most interested in hearing your message?
• Acts 2 Example: These people were already God-fearing Jews.
• Identify: Identify people most likely to respond to your message and ministry. Contact Outreach to research the neighborhoods that make sense with an On Target campaign.
o Geography: Consider distance to your church in miles, drive times, and boundaries (like bridges, etc.).
o Demographics: Your church will most successfully attract like people.
o Spiritual Readiness: Consider the spectrum of belief as pictured below. The most receptive people, your target, fall in the shaded area.
3. Appropriate Communication Method: How will you tell them?
• Acts 2 Example: The Spirit caught the crowd’s attention with a sound of rushing wind and tongues of flame. People heard their own languages spoken, then Paul addressed the crowd.
• Make a Big Noise: Raise your community presence so that they know you have a message that matters in their life. Define location, directions, times and dress.
o Personal Communication: Invitations, email, brochures, business cards. Equip members to be inviters. Connect with people at events or service evangelism projects.
o Direct Communication: Direct mail, door hangers, posters.
o Mass Communication: Media like television, radio, Facebook, website, and Internet.
• Native Language: Speak in the language your community understands. Match their limited understanding of church words, avoiding ‘Christianese.’
4. Compelling Message: Why should people respond?
• Acts 2 Example: Paul reasoned with the crowd from the scriptures, and met them in their understanding. As they responded to the message, he moved them towards repentance and baptism.
• Match Understanding: Take into account the general life-place of the community, how might scripture best speak into their lives?
• Focus: Determine your message, and keep it clear of distractions.
• Shepherd: Clearly direct people in how to respond.
Stories of the Holy Spirit are always encouraging to hear, so we invite you to share yours. What was your most recent or memorable evangelism moment?