Getting to be an OUTIE

General

Pastor Top is bi-vocational pastor of Little Oak Baptist Church somewhere in a rural area.
Top was looking forward to the rest of the year at Little Oak. The next few months the leaders of the church had planned two outreach events and one community ministry project. Top felt that the folks at Little Oak were turning a corner by looking outside the church. The church had a good reputation for helping others in need. The past several years the folks at church had gradually turned inward. They were helpful at times to others yet predominately thought of themselves first and others second. It was an effort of prayer and Bible Study to begin to look outward. There had been tearful prayer meetings of thoughtful confession. It began when Bert, the oldest and most respected Deacon, had stood one night and prayed a prayer of confession that he had been self-centered as a believer and leader of the church. He was more concerned with the people in the church and their comfort than the lost people that lived around Little Oak. That simple prayer of confession had opened the hearts of people to the renewed attitude of Christ alive within them. The journey had been several months of praying, studying, hearing people’s hearts. There had been resistance as a few people struggled to see the difference between looking outward as a church and looking inward. God was opening hearts and eyes. People were becoming more alive in Christ as they began to see the enormity of the task to share the Gospel with 7000 people around Little Oak. Most of the folks around Little Oak lived on farms or on small acreages. It was a challenge to get connected. Yet folks knew each other and cared about each other in the area. How great is our God to provide a savior and entrust his followers with the message of Christ. We must be sharing about Christ.
The first outreach event for Little Oak was a Halloween Festival on the Sunday Night before Halloween. The planning of this event had evoked spirited discussion. Why Sunday night? Cancel church? God surely couldn’t bless something like this. Yet the young adults of the church had led in the planning of this event and were involving about all the regular attenders somehow. There would be food, games, and kids were welcome to dress in their Halloween costumes and come to church. All who came would register for door prizes. A simple form with name and email address or phone number asked for just enough information to be able to stay in touch for the future. The names from Halloween would be used as contact list for the Christmas Eve outreach event. The ministry event was a work in progress for the end of November. The Sunday before Thanksgiving the folks from Little Oak were going to take Sunday afternoon and go to as many homes as possible and simply pray for people. The church members would go to a home, introduce themselves, and ask for prayer concerns. Following that they would write them down, pray for the folks and leave. The prayer concerns would be placed on the prayer wall at church. A copy of the prayer concerns would be given to members, not the entire lists just a few concerns per church member. The Christmas Eve service was the last outreach event for the year. The Christ of the manger would be shared about with familiar Christmas Carols and Scripture. Top was working on the Gospel presentation for that night. It had to be short and simple. It would be.
Top was praying that the Lord would make each of these times fruitful for the folks outside of the church. Top was also praying that the folks at Little Oak would see the long term nature of what needed to be done. It seemed that church folks wanted a one and done church event to share the gospel where everyone in the area would come, get saved, and live happily ever after. The reality was that it would take many touches, many times of sharing the Gospel for folks to hear the good news of Jesus. Studying the life of Jesus Top realized that Jesus traveled and taught over a relatively small area. Many of the same people saw the miracles, heard the teaching, and didn’t believe the first time they heard, maybe not the tenth time they heard. Perhaps we the people of God need the attitude of Christ found in Philippians 2:5-11. Servants like Jesus served out of love and obedience regardless of results. Sharing the message was the important part of the next three months. The Lord of the harvest would take care of results.

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