In Search of a Silver Bullet
Every generation it seems wants a silver bullet. They want the secret formula for instant church growth. Do this. Say that. Play these songs. Preach those sermons. And...voila! You’ll be doing four Sunday services just like the big boys do! Yeah...it doesn’t work like that.
The most effective strategy (ironically, it’s the most biblical strategy as well) for evangelism will always, always, always be one-on-one, one person telling another person what God has done in and through his life.
Jesus told his followers to be witnesses -- to just get out there and tell folks what they'd seen and heard. And that's precisely what they did. Theologian Michael Green says the message of the gospel spread in the first century like gossip over the back fence. That's how they turned the world upside-down in a generation.
At North Point – perhaps the most innovative and techno-savvy church I know – they call that strategy “Invest and Invite” (I know -- how lo-tech can you get?). Regular members just invest in other people and wait for an opportunity to invite them to a church event. That’s it. No smart lights or high-speed internet connection needed. Andy Stanley isn’t even involved in most of it.
It’s old school and unsexy, but it works to the tune of, like, 500 baptisms per year at the Alpharetta campus alone. And it's worked consistently like that for the last decade.
If any other church had a program that boasted numbers like that, we’d be knocking down their door, begging them to put it in a box and giftwrap it for us. If First Baptist of Podunk, Utah, had a Halloween Trunk-or-Treat Hell House Extravaganza that brought in 500 new people each year – if Trinity Presyterian of East Bumble, New Mexico, came up with a personalized automated email marketing software that got around all those pesky spam laws and guaranteed you one new member for every 25-30 current members – we’d be screaming to the top of our lungs: SHOW US HOW TO DO IT! WE DON’T CARE HOW MUCH IT COSTS!
But this? This involves things like people...having conversations...with other people...who don’t go to church. And that might be...uncomfortable.
Give us doorhangers to hang on people’s doors. Give us postcards to mail to people’s homes. Give us clever slogans we can put on our church marquees. Better curriculum. More creative programming. Cooler music. A better website. Give us a spiky-haired preacher wearing a long-sleeve striped shirt untucked and $300 jeans.
But please do not ask me to go next door and ask my neighbor if he needs help with anything. And, if you do, you better pray he doesn’t ask me anything about Jesus or God or the Old Testament or gay marriage or why I voted the way I did.