These cycles are designed to help create an evangelism culture in a church. They will also reveal cultural "holes" (and even push-back).
It is recommended that the church calendar 3 or 4 major Sundays (i.e. Easter, VBS, Fall & Christmas) as attractive days, "Big Days." These are Sundays when your people will know that it is "safe" to invite a friend and that there will be a clear gospel presentation. Ideally you would want at least half of your church people (adults, teens, and kids) to be involved and actively working to invite the unchurched to come see the church at her "best." Ideally, this is not a Sunday for a guest speaker or band, but this is a "taste test" of your real church.
The evangelism Sunday should fit well with the community calendar and be something easily promoted -- i.e. Easter, special Christmas service (before everyone leaves town), Friend Day. A catchy name/theme and an invitational "hook" (like giving away a ____) may also be helpful. See E-Sunday for examples.
Resource Book: Ignite by Nelson Searcy
These cycles can also be an asset for:
- Recruiting and testing leaders/workers for a season
- Helping people to start looking for ways to connect with the lost
- Being intentional in the worship service with language, songs, and behaviors that unsaved guest can understand
- Improving the children's ministry and nursery
- Preparing a plan for new believers and connection points
- PR to the community
- Improving facilities and online presence
- Expressing "vision" that people can rally around and give finances toward.
Targeted prayer season begins
Encourage each person in the church to identify 3-4 prospects,
unsaved or unchurched, who are in driving distance of the church.
- Driving distance generally = 10 miles or 20
minutes – church people will drive
more than 10 miles, but unsaved visitors will not usually do that.
- Prospects are people they already
have relationship with through friendship, work, neighborhood, or even
relatives, but UNCHURCHED. This is not a
revival to invite our saved friends to or a way to get people from other churches.
Have them write their prospect names twice – for themselves and for the church.
Challenge the church people to pray over their specific names for the next 6 weeks.
Choose a method to collect or display the first names. Pray over them corporately, weekly.
Some examples of methods churches have used:
- Nail names to a cross
it “Reach4” and used a hand graphic to write names on and placed along a wall
- Put names in a jar/bowl
Make this fit the culture of the church, but
use this as opportunity to push for more and initiate change.
Identify preparation pieces that the church needs to make for the key Sunday.
"Acts of Kindness" season begins
Encourage your church to continue prayer for their names, but to also look for opportunities to invest an act of kindness into each of their lives. A personal touch is much better than a "religious" gift. Examples: invite to lunch/dinner/coffee and just hear their story, mow their grass, shovel snow, wash their car, babysit, give a seasonal gift, gift card, or cookies/muffins, etc.
Invest in cleaning the church both inside and outside. Check signage.
Invest in the community.
Resource Book: Conspiracy of Kindness by Steve Sjogren
Invitation season begins
Encourage the church to continue prayer over their names, acts of kindness, and to watch for the right opportunity to invite them to the special Sunday. Believers need to be aware that this may not be the right season to invite one of their prospects, but future invitational season will already be planned and the timing may be right then.
Invite the church people to join the preparation team (recruit workers you will need).
Invite the community (newspaper, Facebook ads, etc.).
Some churches have created invitational cards for people to pass out. Churches also have found that a "give away" item on that special Sunday can make it easier to invite.
Invitation + Bait = "Oh you need to come to our church this Father's Day, they are giving away a massive grill. It would look great in your back yard. Meet us there for service at 10:30, and then come back to our house. Let's grill some burgers."
This is the "evangelism Sunday" (please don't call it that) when your church will want to be "guest" ready. Company is coming! Have your friendliest greeters at the door and even the parking lot.
This Sunday guests will see you at your BEST. This is not the Sunday for a guest speaker or group. The guests need to get to meet Pastor and see what the church is like. If there is a great need for a special performance (i.e. kids singing at Christmas), then make sure that pastor has a window to share a great story.
Resource Book: The Art of Storytelling: Easy Steps to Presenting an Unforgettable Story by John Walsh
Connect with the friends who come as guests (don’t embarrass them and be on your best behavior). Share the Good News with an evangelistic message and altar call in both adult and children’s services. Have a guest card, methods to gather, and a gift that anyone would like (i.e. trade your guest card for a DQ gift card). Advertise for the engaging sermon series starting next week.
Churches will often have a "give away" to help people invite and to collect guest information. Examples of gifts:
- A seasonal item ($100 Walmart gift card for Christmas shopping)
- Grill on Father's Day or Friend Day
- Spa treatment for Mother's Day or Valentines
- Restaurant gift cards
- State Park Pass to fit the VBS theme
- Big Screen TV for Superbowl Sunday
Get your team to brainstorm gifts that people in your community would actually want.
The engagement season begins
Engage during the week with a call, letter, and gift drop at their door (i.e. - cookies, salsa, honey). Engage new salvations with follow-up, conversations, resources, and a Baptism date.
Engage with a family focused sermon series the weeks following and schedule a dessert fellowship for newcomers. Pastor schedule times to take newcomers out for a meal. Encourage the church to engage and involve newcomers with friendship connections. Help friends become family.