By Julia Gervais
To many of us think the phrase ‘think outside the box’ is very familiar; some would dare to say it’s cliché. As children growing up on the most beautiful island of Jamaica, my siblings and I were introduced to the Adventist beliefs by an adult cousin. We enjoyed the Pathfinder club, particularly the drilling and marching (to different degrees).
One of the most exciting times, was… getting ready for tent crusades. Pitching the tent was absolute fun; the men took charge of the heavy lifting, women cooked a sumptuous meal, while we were the very important messengers, and sometimes we got to hold a tent peg or two. That was total member involvement at its best.
We didn’t plead for folk to get onboard. We all knew the start date for the crusade and the day for pitching the holey tent (we only realised how bad it was on a rainy night when no dry spot could be found) and everyone turned up. We got to stay up late, walking to and from the nightly service.
The promotion was simple… word of mouth, the method became the lyrics for the song ‘Each One Can Reach One’. I can’t remember a time where we printed and handed out leaflets. We just had feet shod with the preparation of the gospel…we ran to spread the word.
I must say the idea of the two-week campaign in the church was a culture shock for me. Over the years, I’ve become accustomed to it, after all it is evangelism. I must confess that I was never comfortable going door to door. At times, others who felt the same as me, were made to feel rather guilty. Was it the only way? It even seemed a contradiction that we would speak of spiritual gifts and talents on one hand and yet…everyone should go door to door.
Could it be that there are other ways?
We tried another approach on the evening of Saturday 13th January. The Teens Ministry and Social Team hosted a quiz night. It was just an evening of fun with an element of outreach built-in. It seemed odd to some that it wasn’t a Bible quiz per se…well there was a Bible round. The rationale-it would be rather difficult to use a Bible quiz for outreach as visitors would feel they could contribute nothing. We expected 6-8 teams, so planned for 10.
When 14 teams registered, we realised adjustments would need to be made. Where would they fit? Had we enough space in our church hall? On the night 3 extra teams had to be added-back home, we’d say ‘small up yourself,’ meaning, make room. We ended up with a total of 17 teams, an overwhelming response. Praise God!
Of the 17 teams, 11 had at least one non-Adventist visitor, and all it took was the incentive of 5 bonus points per visitor. Two teams had 3 visitors each (impressive as each team had only 4 members). A wonderful evening was had by all. We had no sermon, no Bible study, no leaflets handed out. However, it was definitely outreach.
All visitors enjoyed and are waiting for the next time. We shared some refreshments (courtesy of the Social Team) as we mingled and met a few new friends. They realised that Christianity doesn’t drain the joy, we can have fun, our church is a warm, safe and welcoming space.
The teens overall had a lovely time and would take part again. Some would even invite their friends (in fact one did). Yes, some questions were challenging, some quite simple, generally a good mix. We had some over 60-year olds folk taking part…waging war against cognitive decline.
People respond to different approaches. We have watched the table tennis club grow from strength to strength, they are so comfortable with us now, they have attended concerts in our church. On quiz night, they even entered a team.
Evangelism / outreach takes many forms…use whatever means at your disposal, just do something. God will use us and bless our efforts.
As we move forward this year with outreach in mind, let’s think ‘slightly outside the box.’
Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, “Follow Me.”—Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing 143.3.
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