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Cost of a Soul
Should we do a cost/benefit analysis on public evangelism? This is the question responded to by Loren Seibold in a piece published by Spectrum Magazine recently. His article and many of the responses that follow are insightful.

Repeatedly the studies we conduct show friendship evangelism is the overwhelmingly preferred method (77%) for persons in the pew and among many pastors. Yet millions of dollars keep being pumped into the evangelistic series of meetings method that appeals to less than 12 percent of the general population just because “it gets results.” 

Don’t misread my perspective. We should keep doing series of meetings as one of our outreach options. But why does it deserve 85-90 percent of available budgets allocated for evangelism? Why not give it a commensurate percent of the funding to its effectiveness level and then put time, talent & treasure into other equally deserving and potentially more viable initiatives?  

I was impressed with one response to Loren’s article. It is written by ‘PLM’ and I don’t know who that is, but I applaud his or her perspectives: 

“… I'd like to go back to Mr. Siebold's statement that critics of traditional evangelism methods have no offered alternatives.

“I'd like to beg to differ.

“Their voices may be silenced. Their actions may not be perceived in the church pews. They do not receive support, accolades, or much interest. But some of those who do not necessarily find traditional evangelism as the most effective means of evangelism ARE doing something; they are salt and light in their communities.

1. They volunteer. Big brothers. United Way. Reading programs. At public schools. Habitat for Humanity. They sing in local chorales, join Rotary, Toastmasters, professional organizations. They mix and mingle, eat and laugh, socialize with other people outside the church.

2. They make friends. They know their neighbors. Take apples to them in the fall, volunteer to babysit, take care of the house and garden when their neighbors are on vacation, invite them for fruit salad and pizza.

3. They are authentic. They don't have all the answers. They are real, transparent. They are who they are.

4. They have a quiet personal connection with the Spirit who guides them in their lives, through hardships and successes. The Spirit prompts conversations, interactions, and new directions.

5. They believe other people are important. They don't just keep to themselves. Stay in their own little circles.

6. They don't go around quoting scripture all the time. They act instead. They pursue social justice, equality, and express their voices for all of society's disenfranchised--or maybe just one segment.

7. They have a life outside of the local Adventist Church and are inclusive.

8. They are creative. The spend time thinking of new, interesting, and effective ways to connect with people where they are. To meet their needs.

“It takes open, creative and clear minds to think outside the old box. They practice the most powerful, researched, proven method of persuasion and communication: One-on-one caring. Word of mouth communication. There's nothing like it. Especially when it comes from an authentic, transparent, real, caring person.” 

INNOVATIONewsletter - September 10, 2009