We believe that fruitful outreach begins in the heart of each Christian. 2 Corinthians 4:5-7 says, For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.
Outreach means that we have to understand how the gospel is working in us, at the same time that we tell our friends about Jesus. When we understand that we're simply jars of clay, shining out the light of Christ from within, then we are freed up to be human, to be gospel witnesses and to speak normally with the people around us.
Evangelism also happens when non-Christians witness Christians loving one another. We take Jesus' call to unity (John 13:34-35) seriously—for lots of reasons, including our outreach. It's hard to say, "Come be a follower of Jesus with us!" if we're always annoyed with each other!
The proclamation of the gospel in all of our preaching on Sunday mornings is a significant part of our outreach. We don't try to create a "seeker sensitive" service, but as God draws to people to himself, the preached Word, throughout all Scripture is one of his chosen ways to save people. And we seek to make the gospel clear to the children in our Sunday School classes as well.
With these three legs—the gospel at work in our own hearts, our love for one another, and the preaching of the gospel on Sunday mornings—forming the base of our outreach, we also take evangelistic initiative in other ways:
- Summer OFF: This summer outreach is designed to train our youth in outreach...and then do it. Summer OFF is like a simplified version of VBS, where we share games, crafts, snacks and the great news about Jesus with kids in parks around Rhode Island or in our own neighborhood. Summer OFF runs each July for approximately four weeks. Summer OFF was pioneered by Godspeed together with the Philip Center, and you can read more about it on the Philip Center's website.
- One-on-one: Whenever possible, we try to make our outreach personal. We try to follow up on opportunities God gives us (Colossians 4:2-6) to talk with those who are spiritually open and asking questions, feeling pain, or just visiting and checking out church.
- Christianity Explored: At various times we have a small group Bible study designed for non-Christians wanting to learn about Christianity, based on the Christianity Explored material. If you are interested in a small group of this kind, or for more information, please talk with one of the elders.
- Church Planting: Church planting should be both a cause and effect of evangelism. So we have in our short-term sights, as God leads, church planting, as a means of reaching more of our communities with the gospel of Jesus.