Effective Ways to Reach the Unchurched in Your Community

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A loyal reader asked me last week to think about a series of posts on how to connect with the unchurched and unbelievers. I've written generally on these topics in the past (see, e.g., "Steps toward Evangelism" and "Ways to Get Outside the Christian Bubble"). Today, here are some more basic steps to accomplish this task:

See your home as a missions base. You do not live where you live, and you do not work where you work by accident. Even if you aren't entirely content where you are, you are there to be a witness for Christ. You may, in fact, be the only light for the gospel in the immediate area of your home.

Pray this prayer daily: "Lord, help me to see the crowds as You saw them—as sheep without a shepherd. Help me not to wander past the fields that are ripe for harvest today." Memorize these words connected to Matthew 9:36-37, and keep your eyes open for seeking and hurting people around you.

Focus one night a week on relationship-building. Hang out with neighbors. Invite somebody to dinner. Write a letter to a friend. Join a community group. Walk around your neighborhood or the local mall. Set an appointment to talk with political and school leaders. Determine to build and strengthen relationships, and hold yourself accountable to someone for this commitment. Love people enough with God's love that you want to get to know them.

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Be consistent and patient. Particularly if you're trying to reach Generation Z, you'll likely need to commit for the long haul. They'll be inclined to research and review anything you tell them. They're looking for a genuine experience, but you'll need to convince them of the truthfulness and the relevance of Christianity. Consistency and patience will be non-negotiable.

Ask questions. A lot of them. Just as you might spend time learning about people groups on the mission field in order to reach them, do the same with unchurched and unbelieving folks. Ask about their family, their work, their worldview, their religious background, their hobbies and their goals. Listen to them. Get to know them. Lovingly and genuinely earn the opportunity to tell them how much Jesus means to you.

These ideas probably won't immediately make you an evangelist, but they're starting points. Let us know what's worked—or not worked—for you in the past.

Chuck Lawless is dean and vice president of Graduate Studies and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, where he also serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions. In addition, he is Global Theological Education Consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

This article originally appeared at chucklawless.com.

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