The following is a quick encouragement and challenge from Chuck DeCleene, missions professor at Faith Baptist Bible College, Ankeny, Iowa, and evangelism pastor at Saylorville Baptist Church, Des Moines, Iowa. We’re doing something similar at Campus Baptist Church in Ames, Iowa, as well.
As I studied Acts 11 and 13, it became apparent to me that Paul and Barnabas labored effectively in Antioch before being sent out to reach other areas. The Biblical pattern is to reach out to our own Jerusalem and then be ready to reach other areas as well. Two books that have greatly influenced my life to follow this pattern and to consider a one-on-one personal approach to evangelism and discipleship are The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert E. Coleman and Daws: The Story of Dawson Trotman by Betty Lee Skinner. Although I would not agree with everything in these books, both gave me insight into working thoroughly and personally with the people God places in my life.
I teach at a Christian college, so I do not meet many unbelievers at work. I needed a plan. A member of our church supplied me with a list of people who have recently moved into the area. I also wrote a simple Bible study series dealing with salvation. The four studies each fit on the front and back of a standard 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper.
I took the Bible studies, along with brochures from our church, and went to visit the newcomers to the area. Many people were friendly at their doors as we spoke of everyday things and their new neighborhood. With those who were friendly I shared that I had written a simple Bible study that teaches how a person can be certain of eternal life before death. I asked if I could leave a study with them, and many received the first study. As I left, I stated that when I was in the area again I would stop to see if they wanted the second study.
This process allowed me to begin to build friendships with those whom God might be drawing to Himself. The second visit normally indicates whether or not a friendship built around the studies will continue.
If you define “success” in the same way the business world defines the word, the success rate is not high. In the process of gospel ministry, one plants many seeds and leaves a positive testimony of the local church. However, numbers of families have completed the Bible studies, become believers, followed through with believers baptism, and joined the church. I have been blessed to see many of them mature and become fruitful witnesses for Christ. The process of building a friendship while doing the studies is a natural foundation to continue the discipleship process. This ministry is a joy to my heart. Others have become involved, and the Word of God continues to impact our community.
The pattern of reaching your own Jerusalem found in the book of Acts motivates us, and I believe we are just a continuation of the mighty work that started there. I commend this type of ministry to you as a means of fulfilling the command to go out and make disciples.
After reading this, what ways do you use to meet people in your community?