About two months ago, I attended a Community Pastoring (CP) seminar organised by Living Sanctuary Brethren Church (LSBC).
Community Pastoring is a strategy for positioning the church in the community for effective evangelism. The objectives and strategy for CP are quite similar to my church’s own Neighbourhood Visitation (NV) initiative – the main difference is in the application.
LSBC identified engaging the community as one of the four essentials for its members, in their character-transforming discipleship journey. The success of CP is the result of its intentionality and focus on principles, processes and practices developed to support this continual effort.
The “Chariot Principle”, derived from Acts 8:26-40, lays down the important steps for positioning before evangelising. They are organised neatly in the five “Gets” below.
“Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise …”” (Acts 8:26a)
The first step is a volitional step, and has to do with our will and decision in relation to God’s command. Philip was asked to get up, rise and get going, and he obeyed.
It is clear that God has compassion on the poor and needy (Matt 9:35-38) and Jesus has beckoned us to love as He has loved (John 15:12). To fulfil Jesus’ commission, we must be intentional in reaching our communities and move with the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
We cannot just sit and expect the community to walk in.
“… and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place.” (Acts 8.26b)
Philip was asked to get out into the desert – not a comfortable place. Going out to the HDB community to knock on doors as part of community outreach is not appealing to many. However, those places which we visit are where we find the poor and needy.
Like Phillip we have to get out of our comfort zone if we want to reach out to them. We have been reminded many times that our church is placed in the community to bless the community. We cannot just sit and expect the community to walk in. In this age of internet and smart devices, people are ironically getting more isolated and there is more need for us to get out to them.
“And the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go over and join this chariot.’ So Philip ran to him…” (Acts 8:29-30a)
We need to get near to the people, close enough to perceive their inner needs. We need to engage and befriend them in a relaxing and unthreatening way. Make effort to know them and make repeat visits. We must not differentiate, we must treat the people equally regardless of race or religious affiliation.
Find reasons to talk and listen to them, bless them with deeds of kindness and gifts during festivities like Chinese New Year and the Mooncake Festival. The poor and needy will not resist blessings, but ask their permission to pray for them before doing so.
We must not differentiate, we must treat the people equally regardless of race or religious affiliation.
“… and he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.” (Acts 8:31b)
The objective of knocking on doors is to get invited into homes. It is in the house that we are best able to strike up a meaningful conversation and to build trust and friendship. So be prepared to spend time to talk to our neighbours.
Not all residents will be receptive to our visitation, and there is spiritual warfare. Pray to the Lord, and He will help us to break down barriers as we persevere, sharing authentic love and care.
“Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.” (Acts 8:35)
We get on with sharing the Good News only when the Holy Spirit prompts. Learn to be discerning about the right time to do so. Not all visitations will result in sharing of the Gospel. Our passion to plant and water the seed are what matter to God. It is up to God to convert.
The “Chariot Principle” is just one principle, but it puts in perspective the importance and intentionality of the positioning before evangelism effort we are doing through visiting homes in the neighbourhood. Let’s pray for more workers to enter the harvest field.
This article was first published on YCKC’s website, and is republished with permission.