Start your Ministry
CHOCOLATE EVANGELISM: Outreach IN Your Comfort Zone
By Captain Andrew D. CARTER (CEO "Ask About Evangelism" Coaching Services )
1 Corinthians 9: 20 - 22 (New International Version)
“To those not having the law I became like one not having the law … so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men, so that by all possible means, I might save some"
This book is dedicated to God, without whom I would have no existence and message. Jesus must be first, above all, even family.
However, I must also mention my precious gift from God, my wonderful Wife Ruth who put up with me being absent for far too long. Yes, evangelism is important, but second to Wives and Children. Most importantly I learned you only have to do what God has called you to do - nothing more, nothing less. Another thing I learned is God will always finish His work, even without me!
I am now correcting this past absenteeism with my Wife, Sons and Daughters and spending far more time with God. It’s great!
My Lawyer said I had to include this. Sad, but I guess this just reflects the culture of our times.
“The use of this product is subject to the terms and conditions set out below:
All Rights Reserved
The entire content of this product remains the property of "Ask About Evangelism" and is copyrighted with all rights reserved.
You may review the content of this product for educational, private research or study purposes only. You must not reproduce, transmit, distribute, publish or make any other use of the content of this product unless you have express written, dated and signed permission from "Ask About Evangelism" to do so.
"Ask About Evangelism" uses reasonable effort to include accurate and current information in all of its products, however, this information is general information only and may be changed at any time. Any reference to businesses, people, animals whether living or dead is purely coincidental.
"Ask About Evangelism" does not assume liability or give warranty for the information contained or omitted from its products or any link within its products or for any action or inaction made in reliance thereon.”
The purpose of this document is for informational purposes only.
Unless expressly stated otherwise, information contained in this document has been derived from records maintained by "Ask About Evangelism" and has not been verified by Independent Audit.
The information in this document is provided as a matter of interest only. The Recipient should not treat the contents of this document as advice relating to legal, taxation or investment assessment and should consult their own advisers.
The Recipient must make its own independent assessment and investigation of "Ask About Evangelism" and should not rely on any statement contained in this document as to the significance, adequacy or accuracy of any matter described.
No party named in this document or any party associated with them (including their advisers) make any representation or warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this document or information relating to or information subsequently provided to the Recipient or its advisers.
The parties named in this document together with their respective employees, agents and advisers will have no liability for any statements, opinions, information or matters arising out of or contained in or derived from or for any omissions from information provided to the Recipient or its advisers and all such liability is disclaimed, except any liability which under statute cannot be excluded.
The Recipient must make its own independent assessment and investigation of all matters set out in this document.
"Ask About Evangelism" may in its absolute discretion update or supplement this document but takes no responsibility for failing to provide any update or supplement to any person.
Now that's all over, let's get into it 🙂
START your Ministry
Chocolate Evangelism is four sequential Lessons. After each lesson I recap somewhat in rediness for this next lesson. They really come into their own when being taught. ‘Chocolate Evangelism’ could be studied over four sessions with ease. So please, study, share and above all, put into practice what is helpful here.
I can smell that 'Old Gold'
I love Chocolate. There's something about Chocolate that just reeks of comfort. Life doesn't quite seem so hard and scary with a mouth stuffed full of Chocolate. Chocolate Evangelism is not so hard or scary either.
Psalm 37: 4 tells us to 'Delight in the Lord' and He will give us the 'Desires of our Hearts'. I love Harley Davidson Motorcycles. I love Science Fiction and Fantasy. It's no accident I minister to Bikers, Lord of the Rings fanatics and Star Trekkers.
I don't cold doorknock. I don't give out pamphlets at shopping centres. I don't invite friends to high sell church activities. That's scary and often comes with great effort and little or no results. It's out of my comfort zone, nothing like Chocolate at all. I spend time with friends who want to see me and visa versa. We have a common love. Relationships develop. True friendships happen that are great pathways for Jesus to cross. That I can do. I'm in my comfort zone. I'm not scared. Now that's Chocolate. I invite you to have some of this 'Chocolate' too.
Now that we have more stuff out of the way, let's start with what Jesus, Chocolate, and Evangelism all have in common. Chocolate has at its very heart three basic ingredients. These are Cacao, Butter and Sugar. Mixed together you get Chocolate…Yum. But the wrong mix can taste absolutely awful, or at least not what it could have been. Not only that, all the ingredients can potentially be ruined.
I believe effective Evangelism is similar with core elements of Plans, Vehicles and Tools…in their correct mix or it can be awful and all our efforts wasted. In this first Chapter, we'll be doing some preparation work, culminating in starting off your Ministry 'Plan'. In the next Chapter we'll be looking at 'Vehicles' and 'Tools'
Introduction: START your Ministry
Hi, my name's Captain Andrew D. CARTER – I’d like to welcome you to the first Lesson of Chocolate Evangelism™.
Please Note: If you are a veteran, having already an established ministry, I would ask that you bear with me while I explain the basics. This will still be of value as you 'sift through' this first part, looking for more 'Gold Nuggets' to enhance or change aspects of your already established outreach.
As you read and digest the next four Chapters you’re going to learn how to setup and optimize your own 100% successful Evangelism Ministry. Stay with me on this one, I'll be revealing more on this 100% later on. In fact, by the end of our time together (or much sooner) you should be ready to LAUNCH your 100% successful outreach.
Hang on; did I just mention your ministry? What about God? Isn't it HIS ministry? You bet! This is a partnership with Jesus. He is at the helm. You and I are doing His work. It is NOT yours. It is NOT mine. It is GOD's WORK.
I will be referring to concepts as YOUR Ministry (and MY Ministry in examples). Why? It is because I believe we need to take ownership of what God has called us to do. In taking ownership we take responsibility for our part in God's plan for His Kingdom. This does not in any way take away from the fact you and I are doing God's work. Now that’s exciting to think about! It’s going to take some work on your part and what I've written here will guide you through the entire process. I’m privileged to be able to take this journey with you, and I’m looking forward to hearing about your God-given ministry taking form. In this Lesson we’re going to talk about how to best “START” your Evangelism.
This will probably be the easiest of the four Chapters and will require the least amount of “homework”. But, it’s also the most important of them all as you’ll be making some critical decisions that will determine how effective your outreach is.
Notice that I said “we’re going to” talk. At the end you will have an offer of coaching from me. I would like to personally help you as we make our way through this initial “START” lesson.
After you finish this Chapter the “START” of your ministry will spring to life. Specifically, you’ll have the following things in place…
- A clear understanding of Who Is your specific Target Group.
- A clear understanding of your specific Target Group's Culture.
- A clear understanding of Plans for your specific Target Group.
By the end of this first Lesson you will have made foundational decisions about who you’ll be witnessing to, identifying key ways of how they live and effective planning to introduce them to Jesus. In short, the entire concept of your ministry is about to birth into existence. Praise God for what He is doing (or about to do) through you!
Before we begin, let me start with a quick definition to build upon. Let’s start with a definition of Evangelism…
The preaching or promulgation of the Gospel; the work of an Evangelist. (The Macquarie Dictionary)
An interesting word here is Promulgation. This means "To make known by open declaration; to publish; to proclaim formerly or put into operation (a law or rule of court or decree). It also means to set forth or teach publicly (a creed, doctrine, etc.).
I realize that's a mouthful, so let me just explain things a bit more...
- Time Restricted. While we only do what God has called us to do (nothing more, nothing less; more on this later), the Bible tells us clearly there is urgency. This was brought home to me in a very real way when I had to bury a close friend of mine. He died quite suddenly from cancer. He was only in his middle 40's and did not know Jesus. I can tell you, from the bottom of my heart, there is urgency!
- Interactive. I will talk about effective ways of engaging and communicating with your Target Group. More than that we need to effectively communicate with each other in the Church. Also consider what non-Christians outside the Church are doing to spread their 'message'. Do not consider this worthless. The Bible has many examples of God using those outside the Kingdom for His glory. Time and time again I see somebody doing something really great (often in a totally unrelated field) and think of ways I could do the same with just a little modification.
- Target Culture Driven. All that you do will be based from this, not your Church's culture. "How can our current activities be used for outreach?" will simply not cut it. While noble and often comes from a passionate heart for outreach, I believe it to be wrong thinking. I believe a better question to ask is What does Church look like for my particular Target Group.
I'll be teaching the benefits of having a well thought out, systematic approach to Ministry. Just a few are:
- You do good ministry once. Doing something that proves to be minimally effective again and again (or even doing it at all) wastes resources and demoralises people. Effective prayerful ministry keeps producing fruit for a long time. Don't we have to account to God for the BEST use of our time, possessions etc.?
- You don’t have as many hassles. Mistakes will certainly happen. It's natural. We are not perfect. It's a good thing that God can and will use our frailties for His glory. What we sometimes forget is that God can still work in Ministries that DON'T cause problem after problem. Ill thought out Ministries drain people and limits their effectiveness.
- You touch a larger group of people. Time and time again I hear "But one (or similar low number) person came to Jesus!" Good. I rejoice at that too. My concern here is how many more could have been touched (probably along with these people) if the ministry was more thought out and resources used more wisely. How often are large resources (people, money and material) thrown into things with little long term value? As I said earlier, ill thought out Ministries drain people and limit their effectiveness.
- You will be on par with God's plan. God does not do haphazard plans. His work is well thought out, effective, people-empowering and exhilarating. He gets results. I'd like to think He uses more of my God given strengths than my ill thought, not as effective as they could be, Ministries!
Now let's get into this lesson proper.
Good ministry certainly comes out of aspects of who we are and what God has blessed us with. My own example would be as a Man, Husband, Father and Grandfather. I love connecting with other men, both within and outside the church...and that includes other Husbands, Fathers, and Grandfathers.
I would certainly include other things such as a Harley-Davidson rider and a Fantasy and Science- Fiction geek.
Guess what! There are actually other Men, Bikers and Geeks outside of the Church that actually care about things common to me!
There are closet Trekkers (Star Trek Fans) everywhere. I once stood in a train, just about to get out; when I saw a friend of mine a few seats back. I raised my hand, parting my fingers in two groups of two and said “Live Long...”. Before I could finish several other people raised their hands in a similar fashion and yelled out “...and Prosper”. My friend just smiled and joined in. My Wife pushed me out of the train muttering something like “How embarrassing”.
If you don’t get the point of this story you are obviously not a Trekkie and you need to find one and ask them what this means 🙂
I mention this to illustrate how perfect strangers often care deeply and passionately about similar things.
I also love to write fiction. Randy Ingermanson mentions the below quote in his Writing ‘Fiction 101’ Course:
- Nobody cares about what you have to say
- Nobody cares about you
- Everybody cares about something
- Connect that something to yourself
- Connect yourself with others
...and I would add:
- God connects Himself through you
God mostly chooses to connect Himself with others through us, His people. Sure, the previous are broad general statements of Randy's. However, I believe there is much truth there. It is at the very least a good summary of what I have said so far. Even God connected through being one of us in Jesus!
If the above examples are mine, where do you feel most comfortable? What is the 'Best Chocolate' for you? What do you deeply care about that others outside the church also deeply care about?
In other words…
W. H. O. is your Target Group?
W - What do you really care about?
Here’s my suggestion: Start with your passions (or at least those things you’re interested in). And then find out if your passions are shared by those outside of the church. In other words – as you 'delight' in the Lord, what things does your heart truly 'desire' (Psalm 37:4)?
If this is a problem, let’s create a list of things in which you have an interest. (In the next step we’ll be more specific.) Take out a blank piece of paper and write down as many answers as you can to the following questions:
- What do you like to do on vacation? Where do you like to go on vacation?
- What was your favourite subject in school? What about in university or college?
- If you could take any university or college classes today, what classes would you take?
- What do you like to do in your free time?
- Someone gives you $500 and says you MUST spend it on something “fun” for yourself. How do you spend that money?
- What websites, blogs, forums, etc do you regularly visit? (Hint: Look at your favourites/bookmarks on your browser.)
- What topics of conversation tend to always come up when you’re talking with friends?
- What are your hobbies?
- What do you like to collect?
- What hobbies did you have when you were younger?
- What organizations or groups do you belong to?
- Have you ever raised money for a charity (and if so, which ones)?
- What do you like to watch on TV?
- What magazines and books do you like to read?
- What topics of conversations get you “fired up” (or otherwise emotional)?
- I tell you that you need to give a 20 minute speech on any topic. What topic do you choose?
- You just won $50 million in the lottery. Now that you’re debt free and set for life, what will you do with all your free time?
- If I asked your friends and family about your interests, what would they say? (Hint: Ask them yourself and list their answers!)
If you answered the above questions honestly, you should have a nice list of possible Target Groups.
H - Hone this by being specific!
Now list some SPECIFIC people groups from the things you personally care about that others OUTSIDE THE CHURCH care about:
(Hint: Use Ideas from the previous List if helpful)
Examples could be:
"Mothers at my local pre-school" rather than just "Mothers"
"Members of my local Orchid Society" rather than just "Plant and Garden Lovers"
"Harley Davidson Riders" rather than just "Motorcyclists"
"Star Trek Fans" rather than just "Science Fiction Lovers"
"Lord of the Rings Fans" rather than just "Fantasy Lovers"
Get Specific as possible.
O - Only pick 1 or 2 as your final 'Target Group'!
REMEMBER, only chose One or Two at the most. Why? We need to do one or two things well, not ten poorly. Having this specific people group in mind will be part of your homework for this week.
So Veterans, how is what I've said so far stacking up? Is your Target Group the correct one for you? Is it specific enough or are you spread too thin? If not, maybe it's time to change. Maybe this confirms you're correct - praise God. Either way, our correct Target Group is something worth thinking about seriously.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Your 'Target Group' is people firstly and foremost. They are (will be) your very dear friends. People, who you will laugh with, fight with, weep with. They are people who you love spending time with. They are people you will raise before God. You will get passionate and even angry with God at times over these people. Above all you are on a rescue mission to find Gods people and BRING THEM HOME!
Let's now look at the C. U. L. T. U. R. E. your Target Group.
C - Commence with your Culture!
What form of Chocolate does your group really enjoy? Is the Chocolate you are offering really to their taste?
Our starting point must be our target Culture, not ourselves. Statements like “How can we make others fit into our group more easily” can be fraught with all kinds of dangers. While this seems an admirable desire and will come into play later, it is not where, I believe, we should start.
We need to start well because everything else builds from this. If we get it wrong here, everything gets skewed. We are setting up foundational things for your God-given ministry. As every builder knows, if the foundations are wrong everything up the line is effected.
God himself emphasizes this in several different contexts in Matthew 7:24-27 and Ephesians 2: 19-20. Sure, these (and what I'm teaching here) don't refer to the same actual thing. However, all agree on the vital aspect of getting foundations right.
A little further down we're going to be looking at 'Understanding your Culture'. This involves asking Key questions like 'What is valued most within this Culture?' I'll be detailing this later, but for now think on this. What you value (even if you are part of this culture) may be very DIFFERENT INDEED to what is generally valued within that Culture. Let me give an example.
As a Christian motorcyclist, I value relating to God above all. All of what I do revolves around this. Sadly, this is not what the majority of those in the Bike scene even contemplates, let alone value. So giving them full in your face Gospel tracts results in little fruit. I (and others in my club) go a different route. We offer something that is a Key concept, but is valued by the BOTH of us. Let me explain further
I have a privileged position in that I am Chaplain to a 500 bed Correctional Centre. As a Christian motorcyclist I relate to Bikers quite well within the Centre. Sadly none came to our regular weekly Chapel with informal chatting being my main method of connecting. While this was good, I felt more could be done. So, much to the amusement of some Prison Officers, I ran a video as a 'Religious Activity'. Having a video and running it for a group was nothing out of the ordinary. However this particular video and the, shall we say, dubious Church attendees, was.
The actual video was the secular 'Orange County Choppers'; a programme which I knew had widespread appeal amongst my target audience. It basically revolves around building motorcycles. Now this is a religious subject if ever there was one, right? This was our alternative to the regular Chapel meetings. It's a series, so this was the first. After the first one, I asked one simple question. "If I threw all these parts, randomly selected and randomly timed, into one big pile, do you think a motorcycle would be the end result?" Of course not was the reply. Then I asked another one. "With all the delicate factors (much more than motorcycles) of this earth that must be balanced very precisely to sustain life, is it equally as hard to think of life without the input of a creator?"
For the next hour and a half we had a great discussion centered on the validity of Geneses 1: 1. I had to push most of them out at 'Muster' time, which is a critical time at the end of the day when Inmates are accounted for. Discussion was still happening during this, much to the anger of Prison Officers who were chasing us out and trying to conclude this activity without charging anyone or sacking their Chaplain! Some things work too well.
Guess what? I ran another one the next week and more turned up. I asked another different question in similar fashion and more great discussion happened. Guess what? I had more and more informal chats, more and more centred on God. Guess what? Several Bikers came to our regular Chapel services, seeking more answers from the Bible. Guess what? They brought friends. Guess What? God as usual worked His miracles and some became Christians.
Guess what? It's amazing what happens when you start with your Target Groups Culture.
I use this story as an example. It's something I did. It's probably something you would not do. I use it to illustrate a principal which I DO want you to use.
U - Understand your Culture.
Evangelism by its very nature is reaching out to people who are not a part of our Church Community. If their culture is ignored usually the same will happen to us along with our efforts to reach them for Jesus. This is why I believe understanding the ‘Culture’ of those you desire to reach is so crucial.
The Macquarie Dictionary has a helpful part in its definition of 'Culture'. It states “the sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings, which is transmitted from one generation to another”. According to the Culture there are certain key elements (ways of living) that need to be identified and understood for our evangelism to be effective.
Whether we are part of the culture or not, key aspects firstly have to be identified then secondly understood. Ineffective evangelism can often be the result of poor understanding of Culture.
Some good questions to ask (both yourself and others within the chosen culture) are:
- What things are valued the most?
- How do people think?
- How do people learn new things?
- What are the characteristics of the culture?
- How can I embrace these in my evangelism?
- What primary methods of communication are used, both within and to those outside?
These are not meant to be an exhaustive group. They can be a good start. Come up with and modify to your specific situation.
Let me give an example. I know a church that is located in a middle-class working suburb of Sydney, Australia. Attached to this church is a pre-school. Over the years the pre-school had become somewhat disconnected from the church. As the pre-school is an important ministry ways were sought to remedy this situation. Most of the pre-school's current clientele are not Christian and have no connections to the church. I used this as an exercise to look at ways of connecting this church with the families who attend the pre-school. I’m looking at this from someone outside of this community as my children are well above pre-school age and my three grandchildren attend elsewhere.
So, I asked these questions. I came up with lots of things, prioritizing the answers.
What things are valued the most?
Family, Family Time, Relaxation, Provision of Physical Needs
What are the characteristics of the culture?
Busyness (run in / run out), Young Children, Young Parents, Some Grandparents, Single Parents, Middle-class income.
What are the major communication methods
Monthly Newsletter, Quick Chats.
Then I did something very, very important. Don’t forget to do this step either! I confirmed my answers with one of the attending Mums and made arrangements to do the same with the Pre-School Manager. Don't assume you know. Even if your part of the culture yourself, bounce your answers off someone else within the culture as well. Doing this very simple thing will minimize problems, I assure you, later down the track.
These questions are just starters. Tailor them to your own situation. Ask questions that will help you understand the lifestyle. Ask yourself, if your part of the culture, then confirm it.
L - Live your Culture.
It’s best if you are already part of your target culture, but not by any means essential.
I am a Biker. I have ridden a Harley Davidson for many years. I rode many other motorcycles before this. I started before I was old enough to get a license. This is one of my major Target Groups. I am immersed in the culture. I am a Biker.
I am a Chaplain in a major correctional centre where the majority of my ministry is focused on Inmates. Am I currently an Inmate? No. (Kinda hard to be employed if I was!) Have I ever done time in a correctional centre? No. Have I been ever charged with a Criminal Offence? No
Can I effectively minister in either of these areas? Absolutely! I'm simply within one and beside the other. I am just as effective in both.
Another example. If your target culture is a pre-school for instance, it is good if you have children attending. However, this is certainly not essential. What about being a helper, or a teacher? What about being on the management board? These are only a few examples.
Can I give you a very important piece of advice? Never, never ever fake it. Be genuine. Your Target Group will know straight away. Don't try to be something or join something your not, even for the sake of ministry. Work genuinely from within (as who you are bubbles forth) or work genuinely from being beside (as who you are bubbles forth). Both are just as valid and God can use either to His glory.
T - Translate your Culture.
You could list them in the Work Sheet at Item 1.5
Ask yourself what it really means to be a Christian fully participating (either within or beside) in this Culture.
Go back to 'Understand your Culture'. Ask those same questions, applying them to you. Does who you are and what you do reflect those answers?
A word of caution here. Always keep your credibility. I'll be talking more about this in the future. The Bible and the Holy Spirit will guide you on this subject.
For my Ministry I looked at the following areas.
What things are valued the most?
Motorcycles: Simple, I bought a reliable Bike.
Mateship (Strong Friendship): I joined (and committed to) a Christian motorcycle club whose main agenda was outreach. Please Note: This was a good step for me. There are many lone riders, not affiliated with any organization, that have a wonderful ministry.
Spouse: I made sure my Wife was on side with all this, as my Ministry effectiveness depended on it. After this, her Ministry added immeasurably to my own.
What are the characteristics of the culture?
Meet in Pubs (almost always involving alcohol): I don't have a problem here and do drink in moderation. However, I must look out for times when it is simply not wise to have even one drink. I also must make sure none of the other members of my team have a problem.
Ride in various sized groups: I am comfortable to ride in slower, smaller groups, so I gear my Ministry towards this.
Appreciate Custom Built Motorcycles: I like looking at other's bikes and are genuinely interested in how they did the modifications.
…and so on
Now go back, ask your own questions, get your own answers and 'Translate' your own specific Culture.
U - Use powerful pathways within your Culture.
Remember the definition that I mentioned in 'Understand your Culture', especially in regard to 'Key Elements' (ways of living)?
These 'key elements', built and transmitted by the people, are powerful pathways we can use for the Gospel. We usually don’t need to fight against them but instead use them (Acts 17: 22-34). Resisting these 'ways of living' in fact will do more harm than good in many instances.
I wonder how far Paul would have got if he reacted differently in Acts 17: 22-34? I wonder how far he would have got if he'd said something different like "Well, boys, I notice all these stone and wood gods of yours here. Do you really have idiotic thoughts that these lifeless statues can hear, or even less do anything to change your lives? You need to believe in the Living God. Repent now and give your lives to Jesus." I wonder how many would have come forward. Probably lots…to lynch him! Not quite the outcome he wanted.
Thankfully Paul did not do that. Instead he chose his words and actions carefully. He first understood this Culture and then 'spoke into it'.
He didn't just give out tracts. He didn't just hand out Scrolls. He didn't set up a 'Followers of the Way <Christian>' Stall. He didn't even set up a pedestal to Jesus. Instead he used what was already there and entwined in people's lives…their own culture. Paul spoke in ways they understood. He used powerful pathways!
R - Re-create a little heaven within your Culture.
What will others experience that will bring them closer to Jesus? As they come into contact with you what will they 'take away from this'? Will they want to join your community? This aspect is a crucial component. This is where you are 'in the world, but not of it'. Are you an easy Community to be around? Communities that are conflict heavy (every community will have some conflict, including Christian) are not easy to be around. Scattered, unfocused communities can be equally as hard.
Paul sums up this 'in the world, but not of it' in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. What is it exactly people will be drawn to.
E - Empower your Culture to see God.
How easy is it to accept Christ through your ministry? How easy is for someone to join (at different levels) your 'Heavenly' community? This is the next step to the previous. If people can see 'Heaven' amongst them, can they EASILY respond when God calls them?
Let me use an example from my Fantasy Role-playing Ministry. As well as our own Organisation (ISAIAH 61), we actually have a fully fledged para-organisation non-Christians can join called 'Friends of ISAIAH 61'. We also attend lots of other secular club's activities and support them in any way we can. We have a fully functioning Website with carefully thought out (and updated) links. We advertise when our next Games will be. Our contacts are in the most relevant Directories. We try to make it as easy as possible for our Target Group to find us.
I hope you get the picture. Let me give another analogy.
When I was in the Australian Army, I was part of an Engineer Regiment. Basically, we construct. We build. We blow up. We 'make and break', so our Army remains mobile and our enemy is slowed. We are soldiers in a combat unit. This means enemies attack us. Doing hot hard physical work (often over quite a large area) requires both hands. So what about one of my most important tools - my Rifle? This is a life and death issue when we are fired upon. The standard is this: My rifle MUST ALWAYS be within arms reach, period!
Ask yourself this: When God convicts someone are YOU within 'arms reach' as God intends for His shepherds?
OK, this completes our checklist for 'Culture'…for now. Remember to do this on a regular basis. Why? We do it again because culture changes. We do it every year, more if your culture changes very rapidly. This will keep us on track and 'edgy'.
I really want to stress that our Target Group's culture is the starting point for our evangelism. Many times I have heard “We have this great evangelism activity, now how can we get people along”. I believe this is wrong thinking in the extreme. We should say “What evangelism practices do we need to create for this specific people group or groups, based on their existing culture and beliefs”.
Bonus Video Below: "Some Extra thoughts on Understanding your Culture"
PDF Download Here
Now, and only now, can we begin to formally ‘Plan’.
P. L. A. N. for your Target Group.
P - Purposely engage your Culture.
The first basic ingredient in Chocolate is the Cacao Bean. Without it, you just have sugary butter. Nice, but not Chocolate. This fruit must be our starting point.
Likewise, PLANS are our first key ingredient. The other two (Vehicles and Tools) we'll look at in the next Lesson.
Remember, even God laid out a plan spanning thousands of years incorporating creation to redemption to restoration and wrote it down (the Bible)!
- Genesis 3:15 First Promise of Jesus
- Genesis 12: 2-3 The Promise to Abram
- John 3: 14-15 Promise of Eternal Life
Let me give you something else to think about.
What do you think is the most important part of a jigsaw is? I have asked this on numerous occasions. I get lots of answers, but personally, I think the crucial component is the Box lid! How hard is it to complete a complex puzzle without knowing the picture? I would venture to say even the success or failure to complete a jigsaw can rest with having or not having this picture.
Working hard doesn't always please the Boss…or even God.
I know this personally from the earthly 'Boss' point of view.
One of my first areas of employment as a 16 year old was working in an independently owned Hardware Shop. I left home early and really needed the money to pay for my rent each week. One of the other employees, whom I worked with sometimes, was sacked by the boss. He was a hard worker. This worried me greatly as he usually achieved more than me each day. I had to go and see our boss as I was really trying hard even though I was not much of a physical type of worker. My Wife reminds me this still hasn't changed. She even says when my time on this earth is done; she'll cremate me and put me in an hour glass to do physical work for the first time lol! My boss was quite surprised when I expressed my anguish to him. He told me something which I only reflected on many years later. He told me he didn't want 'busyness' or even huge constant outputs. He told me he only wanted two basic things.
- To do what I was asked to do first
- To do all I do in the most efficient way possible
The employee he sacked did not do that. In fact the Boss was almost livid one day when the two of us had to unload a delivery truck, because this particular employee left me on my own so he could re-arrange the soil section on the outside of the shop. That was not what my Boss asked him to do. Even though I was slower at doing physical work (sometimes the Boss did have to give me a 'hurry up'), he was happy because he said I tried to do those above two things to the best of my ability.
Guess what! My Boss had a Business Plan. He wanted HIS shop to make HIS money HIS way. He has a right to do this by being the owner. He's not running an exercise gym for employees.
God has a Business Plan too (Luke 2:49 (NKJV)). Are you purposefully engaging your Culture as God intends and in the most efficient way He directs? You can only do this if you know God's plan, and your own personal plan within it. So, in a nutshell, Plans give us Clear Direction, without which, we would be lost.
How frustrating when you are meeting someone and only have vague directions. We all went as a family to a major outdoor show a few years back. I wanted to see some different exhibits so I said to my Wife I would meet her on the main steps of the large arena in the centre. We had different ideas about 'main' (funny that isn't it?). I spent a long, frustrating, time wasting period walking between different steps, circumnavigating the said arena several times until we finally met up! If only we had had a simple, clear plan we both understood (and then we would have avoided the…um…tension in the car on the way home).
Yes, Plans give us essential CLEAR DIRECTION, but must...
Here I go again!
…must come about through Prayer and Obedience to God!
We need clear direction otherwise we don't know where we are going. Being active often doesn't mean a thing. It just means we randomly accomplish (maybe) things. We don't have a random God. Not having a clear Plan also robs us of productivity.
L - Look at what you Desire for your Culture.
I just mentioned Productivity. What exactly do we want to produce? What are our Desires? Desires are things we would like to see happen, but have no control over.
I now want you to make a list of what you 'Desire' for your Culture. Do a list of at least six.
Remember the pre-school example I used earlier in 'Culture'? I came up with this list.
- To see non-Christian parents come to faith
- To see new Christians from the Pre-school join our church community.
- To see these new Christians sharing their faith within their own networks.
- To see these new Christians growing in their faith
- To see these new Christians having an influence on cultures beyond the pre-school community.
- To see these new Christians actively modelling their faith and consistently teaching their Children the same.
…and many more.
These are all 'Desires' because I have no control over them. They are NOT 'Destinations' (more on this next) for me personally because I do not have the power to make choices for others. Many sad parents know this only too well when their children make unwise choices.
Only God can change hearts, even our own.
Now we have our Desires, we can produce our Destinations.
A - Arrive at your Destinations within your Culture.
We just looked at 'Desires' (things we do not have control over). Now we need to look at 'Destinations'. Destinations differ in that we do have control over these.
Here I go again!
Don’t forget prayer and obedience to God as you Plan your Destinations.
Destinations normally have five attributes.
- S: Specific
- M: Measurable
- A: Achievable
- R: Realistic
- T: Tangible
Let's look at these in turn.
I now want you to pick one of your previous 'Desires'. Pick one which is the most important. Pick one that is most critical. Which one is the one you really want to concentrate on? Above all, which one does GOD (through Prayer and Obedience) want you to really develop. It may not be the one we see as the most important or critical. Always remember, we do not have to do God's work for Him. God has not chosen to solve all of the needs of those around us, especially through us. Never burn yourself out doing what God has not called you to do.
I find a very helpful way is for the team (or handpicked representatives) to put forward ideas while one person writes everything said on a whiteboard. If it's just you, papers fine, but I still like writing on a whiteboard. It helps me think. From this we can establish our initial evangelism Destinations.
Let me give an example.
A friend of mine had this great Desire 'Bring golfers in my local Golf Club to the Lord'. A good Desire because last time I checked, he had no superpowers to force decisions on others. More importantly, while he's a great friend, I have serious doubts about him being God, who really is the only one who can ultimately change hearts.
…still a great 'Desire'.
So, he came up with this 'Destination'. He will attend "six open golf days at our local club over the next twelve months"
Is it specific? Yes. It is because of the established number and his local identified location of the local Golf Club. It's not vague; he knows exactly what he must do.
Remember the pre-school example I used earlier in 'Culture'? A 'Desire' there was to see non-Christian parents come to faith and join our church community. A great 'Desire', but still a desire because we have no control over this outcome. It's now time to do something we do have control over. After brainstorming a few 'Destinations', I decided to pursue this one.
A simple emailed Newsletter. I arrived at this BASED ON THEIR CULTURE. Remember what I wrote before in regard to the Culture?
What things are valued the most?
Family, Family Time, Relaxation, Provision of Physical Needs
What are the characteristics of the culture?
Busyness (run in / run out), Young Children, Young Parents, Some Grandparents, Single Parents, Middle-class income.
What are the major communication methods?
Monthly Newsletter, Quick Chats.
How would something like this 'speak into' what is valued the most?
It can contain content which enhances Family Time, such as tips for Mums and Dads, puzzles, short children's stories and more. It can enhance Relaxation Time through the same. In regard to Physical Needs local businesses may be willing to give a small discount to subscribers. At the very least a good directory of local targeted services could be built up over time.
How would something like this 'speak into' what is characteristic?
Busyness is addressed by convenience. It can be read at any time. The different content would be short, valuable (what the readers actually want) and to the point. Most middle class homes now have access to a computer and the internet. Most children would have fun showing their Grandparents the basics of accessing this Newsletter and the Internet if this is a problem for them.
How would something like this 'speak into' what communications are already in place?
Is there already something in place we could enhance instead of starting a new one? Something to very seriously consider. Don't try to re-invent the wheel or worse create perceived competition. In this particular case, there was nothing like this in place. The only thing was a regular printed newsletter given to parents on a monthly basis containing information about the Centre activities and Church Events. I felt this could certainly be enhanced as I wonder how many just went in the rubbish. However, I would certainly use this initially to gather voluntary email addresses and to cater for those without computer and internet access. I would also start with this because it is already in place and people were used to it. I would offer the email version probably about three months down the track as people signed up for it.
Now, let's see if it's a S.M.A.R.T. 'Destination'.
S: Specific? Yep. A Newsletter.
M: Measurable? Yep. Was it produced or not.
A: Achievable? Yep. Articles are freely available on the Internet. Original articles can be written also. It is easy for Parents to use and sign up for.
R: Realistic? This is easy for someone with minimal computer and internet skills to set up. It can be easily outsourced to somebody who has. A clear avenue at the pre-school to advertise and get signups is already in place.
T: Tangible? People will look forward to getting it, encourage each other and spread the word as long as it is valuable to them.
OK, we've now got a Destination in place
Next Chapter I will be talking about how to use these 'Destinations' to introduce others to Jesus. I'll be expanding on this example some more and adding others.
From our Desires come our Destinations. I find it so amazing that time after time, when I implement evangelism Destinations (things I HAVE control over) so many of my Desires (things I have NO control over) come about. As God calls us to do things we can do (most only through His strength!), He does things only He can do. What an awesome God we have!
N - Now do another two for your Culture.
You could list them in the Work Sheet at Item 1.8
Yes, do another two now. You'll have a good start on your homework.
Why do another two? Because you're going to pick the best one to start and have two backups to implement later or replace with if for some reason your initial 'Destination' is not working. Don't forget these 'Destinations' must be derived from your Culture.
Do you see a pattern emerging?
I identified my SPECIFIC Target Group.
"Mothers (possibly Fathers too) at my local Pre-School
Remember W. H. O. at the start?
I then looked at the SPECIFIC Culture.
The Culture at the Pre-School I intend the Newsletter for.
Remember C. U. L. T. U. R. E. next?
Then I devised a Plan to 'speak into'.
I knew what I 'Desired' and produced a 'Destination'.
Now I have a P. L. A. N. to work by.
Your next step is to take action!
Chapter 1 Assignment.
You could use the downloadable Work Sheet in the Assignment Chapter 1 section.
Now, let’s take what you’ve learned so far and begin to actually put it to use. It’s homework time! Feels just like you’re back in high school, doesn’t it? Go ahead and complete these steps so that you have the foundation in place for next Chapter. Next time you’ll discover how to effectively put these Destinations in place by choosing the right 'Vehicle'. After that you'll be making it even more effective with appropriate 'Tools'.
Here are the things you need to have accomplished to complete the first Chapter’s action steps for setting up your own God given Evangelism Ministry.
- Make a List of your potential general Target Groups (Six Minimum)
- Narrow these down to Two SPECIFIC ones
- Choose one (the other is a backup) that you want to engage
- Create a snapshot of your Target Group using C.U.L.T.U.R.E.
- Come up with two key 'Ways of Living'
- List a minimum of six 'Desires'
- List a minimum of six 'Destinations'
- Advanced Users: Check the above to see if your Plan is truly based on the target 'Culture' (not yours). Tweak or come up with new Plans.
- Have all of these in your mind for next Chapter
Here I go again!
Don’t forget prayer and obedience to God as you complete these tasks. Pray, Pray and Pray again, especially about what God has in store for you as you read and apply this Course. Now (don't skip this step!) be still and actively look for answers from God. Get ready for the next Chapter as you "SHAPE" your Ministry!
I am ready, willing and able to help you with EVERY PART of this Chapter’s content and assignments. If you would like coaching please go to https://askaboutevangelism.com/coach to prayerfully consider if this is for you.
Is there something you need more explanation or information on? Please contact me via the Quiz below or through email@example.com I really do want to help in your 100% successful ministry God has called you to do.