For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
Luke 19:10


Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas Eve Service



Christmas Eve Service
For the past five years the Assembly in Clementsvale, Nova Scotia (Canada)has had the opportunity to reach out to the community in the Gospel by holding a Christmas Eve Service. The idea all began when a co-worker asked if our “church” had a Christmas Eve Service. He and his father did not regularly attend any church, but liked to attend a service somewhere on Christmas Eve. It led us to ask the question, “Why not?” If there are people out there who turn their thinking to Christ at Christmas time, why not take the opportunity to present them with the message about Christ from the scriptures?

The following year we decided to try it – not knowing if anyone would actually venture out, with the busyness of finishing up their gift wrapping on Christmas Eve. In preparation we mailed out about 1,500 invitation to the surrounding rural communities. On the back of the invitation we also printed a gospel message, condensed from a Christmas Tract, in hopes that some might read it even if they didn’t come.

Click here to see the invitation.

(Good Christmas Tracts are available from “Moments with The Book” www.mwtb.org/site/gospel-tracts/topics/christmas-tracts.html.)

The ladies prepared baked goods and hot apple cider for a snack afterwards. That first year we were pleasantly surprised by having approximately 15 people from the community attending as well as some of the Christians’ families. Many of them had never been in the building before. That was enough encouragement to continue each year since then.

 
The Service
We begin the service with about 20 minutes of singing good Christmas Carols, many of which are packed with truth from the scriptures. For the first three years we used an overhead projector for the songs; since then we have used a printed program. The singing is followed by a prayer and a 15 minute gospel message with a Christmas theme. After that we have a table at the back with the snack. It allows us the opportunity to mingle and chat with the people who have come. We also have a table with gospel literature, texts, gospel calendars, etc.



The Encouragement
We have been encouraged by the attendance of many who would rarely attend “church.” We include in our invitation that the service is “Non-Denominational” hoping to make everyone feel welcome to attend. Each year we get a good number of visitors from the community as well as some unsaved relatives of the Christians.
 
In 2009 a lady attended who is a relative of one of the Christians. The message was about “The Visitors in Bethlehem” and the speaker emphasized that “God visited Earth” in the person of Christ. She questioned the statement that “Christ is God.” She had been previously exposed to wrong doctrine by people meeting with her in her home and telling her that Christ is not God. The Lord used that message to speak to her and she began attending a series of gospel meetings which began the next month. She was saved in that series and today she is in fellowship in the assembly. We give God the glory and look to Him for further blessing.

For further information or for electronic copies of any of our invitations or programs, please contact David & Pamela McClelland.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Regular Communications with Your Community

As you read through Acts and the Epistles you see that local churches were planted in towns and cities to be a testimony to the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ and a corporate community 'presence' to send out the Gospel message. The whole idea of a 'presence and testimony' in the community is connecting with the community.

The assembly of Christians on First Street in Portage la Prairie in Manitoba distributes a quarterly community newsletter to approximately 2000 homes in the area. It is called: News on First

The newsletter usually contains a Gospel story based on something local that has happened or a local name that residents recognize. Due to time constraints, the sample newsletter contained in the link is an exception. It features a non-local story.

In addition to a Gospel story, there is a 'Church Bite' that very briefly explains some aspect of the local assembly. As well, contact information including an email address and phone number is given along with meeting times and notice of upcoming events.


If you would like to obtain the file and then adapt it to the specifics for your community you can email Owen Vanstone and he has kindly offered to send you the file.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Look on the Fields: Cast Thy Bread on the Waters

Reprinted with permissions:
Truth and Tidings, August 2013 issue and 

She had been widowed for 15 years and had worked hard to make her living at what she knew best as a wife and mother. If she had a dollar for every loaf of bread she made, she would be quite well-off. He was a preacher of the gospel and his wife had died a few years previously. God in His kindness and wisdom brought these two people together and they married "in the Lord." Now, together as older people they were starting a new life and she wondered how to best connect with the people in the community where they lived. Baking bread wasn't her hobby; for years it had been a necessity in order to feed her large family and to help make ends meet.

"How can I connect with the people in this community? I am a stranger to them. They have lived here all their lives and now I am married to one of their own people; everyone knows my husband is a gospel preacher."
One day when baking bread, she decided to make some extra loaves and take them to the neighbors. Each loaf of bread was made by hand and formed with the care of 50 years of experience. Then she and her husband took a loaf of bread to the neighbor's door and he introduced her to the neighbors as his new wife. With few words and a very nice smile she greeted them and a neighborly bond was formed. Now she is on a first name basis and speaking terms every time they meet. Sometimes they take a pot of stew over, and now the neighbor is occasionally bringing them some expression of neighborliness back. The neighbors now count it a privilege when they are asked for help in some project.

Now, before Christmas every year, 70 neighbors receive a loaf of bread, made from scratch, and formed with a desire that they might see and know the love of Christ through the work of her hands. When she walks through the town everyone knows her. The post-mistress said to us, "When she walks in, this place lights up." When she and her husband go to deliver packages containing a Via magazine, an assortment of tracts, and a calendar, every home is open in the town. All the people respect them even though they won't come to hear him preach. Whenever they need help of some kind they know there is an older couple in their community that genuinely cares for them. They are "peculiar people, zealous of good works."

This is "casting your bread upon the waters."

In most cities, doors are closed to people who folks don't know, even those living in the same apartment building. But it is surprising how the smell of freshly baked bread can open a door. A small jar of homemade jam, or a little bit of molasses in a container in a basket with a nice towel around it to go with freshly baked bread right out of the oven, is very hard to resist when someone from down the hall and the second door to the right offers it with a nice smile and a first name.

"Oh, just keep the basket if you want it. But if you want to bring it back sometime, come on in for a cup of coffee or tea. And maybe the basket will get filled up again. I like to bake, but we are getting older and don't eat as much as we used to. Do come and visit us. We are just down the hall and the second door to the right."

This is "casting your bread upon the waters."

In a fairly upscale suburb of a big city, a new family moved in just across the street. When the moving truck got there it was almost noon and the moving men and the new family were carrying things into the house. A soul-winner packed up a container with sandwiches, carrots, and celery sticks, and some peanut butter to go with it, pieces of cheddar cheese, two thermos bottles of coffee, and one with hot water and some tea bags, and a pie - and went across the street.

"Hi, I'm your new neighbor right over there and it looks like maybe it is time you all had a rest and something to eat. I'll just spread this cloth over the front steps and you all get some strength back. I'll pour the coffee. By the way, my name is ... and I live right over there. If you need a phone or to get on line, feel free to come on over. I will be home all day. If there is anything I can do to help, let me know. Otherwise, I'll just stay out of your way while you get settled. I know all the folks around here and if you need a bunch of hands for anything, just let me know. We will all be glad to help, and welcome to the neighborhood."

This is "casting your bread upon the waters."

Much of the privilege of reaching people with the gospel is done without fanfare and sometimes without a word of gospel testimony being spoken the first few times we meet. A casual word about praying or going to "church" after awhile gives a new acquaintance a little understanding of who you are. "Good works" and soul-winning go well together. Don't spread yourself too thin. Take time to pray each day that the Lord will allow you to make contact in some way with someone. If the person is a Christian, rejoice in the blessing of "doing good to all men, especially those of the household of faith." There may be several days go by when you have not been able to make a connection with an unbeliever. At least use the phone to call one of God's saints who may live alone and have a talk about something that can cheer their heart. If you have someone of special interest in your life, ask for prayer and if possible pray over the phone with that person.

Fellowship in prayer is part of "casting your bread upon the waters."

Saturday, February 23, 2013

VBS (Vacation Bible School) in the Park

Submitted by Victoria Drive Gospel Hall, Vancouver, BC
Concept

Children on summer holidays usually have a lot of free time and parents often welcome any diversion to occupy them as the summer wears on, especially if it is “educational” in nature, or it captures their attention. The opportunity to conduct children's meetings outdoors is well worth trying. Summer weather in most places is usually suitable for being outdoors, and there is no need to transport children if there are children in the area.

Another important consideration is the development of interest in young believers for gospel work. What better way to spend a summer's day than to be involved in bringing the gospel to others, and it could result in expansion of the children’s work and blessing for the assembly. Young people should seek the fellowship and support of their elder brethren before embarking on any gospel work, and in turn, elder brethren should encourage any initiative shown by young people in whom they have confidence. 

History

In 2010, the Victoria Drive assembly in Vancouver tried this in an outdoor basketball court of a housing complex close to the hall. This resulted in contact with a large family that continue to come to the Sunday School, so it gave encouragement to try it again.

In 2011, the work expanded to two city parks, with a week in each one. The response was encouraging, and the weather cooperated so that no day had to be cancelled. Again, new children were acquired for the Sunday School. 

In 2012, young brethren and sisters felt they could handle four week-long series in four parks over July and August. Three were in the evening and one in the afternoon. It was wonderful to see some parents listening to the gospel who had never before been in the Gospel Hall. Again, the weather was phenomenal. Between the four efforts, some 179 new contacts were made, with a few of these becoming regular attenders at Sunday School.

Venues

Public parks would seem to be an obvious choice for most places. It would be wise to check with the parks department about regulations for public gatherings in case a permit is required. It is unlikely a permit is required for a small group as long as the area chosen does not interfere with any scheduled event. 

Choosing the location is critical. It would be wise to scout for an area that is frequented by children. The nicest park may not necessarily yield the best response. It may also be a consideration to go to an area where your assembly already has contact with children. These could form a core group of attendees who would in turn encourage friends to come. 

Other venues that could be considered are school grounds, or common areas in housing developments, both of which would likely require prior approval. 

Personnel 

To make a VBS effort appealing to children it will require some effort and creativity. If an assembly has members available during the day, a morning or afternoon session could be possible. If not, evenings would result in more help from those who work during the day. 

Theme

It was decided that the VBS should have a theme or focus, the same for all four efforts. This helped in the choice of verses and messages, and also made it easier for the children to learn systematically, to make connections and better retain what was learned. 

Format

Each session was 1-1/2 hrs. in length, Monday through Friday. Activities were organized for the children, and contrary to usual practice, it worked well to have activities immediately after singing and praying with the children. Once they had run off their energy, they were quite contented to participate in the quiz, learn a verse; then listen attentively to the message. Each session concluded with refreshment. 

On the Saturday afternoon following the Friday session, a barbecue was held to which children and parents were invited. There was no activity planned for this day, but the opportunity was not missed to give another gospel message. 

Equipment

Whatever equipment is used should not require a moving van. Everything should be portable or collapsible. Basic equipment to consider is:
1.       A table and a couple of chairs (folding preferable) - for registration/refreshments
2.       Tarp - this is used for children to sit on in case the grass is damp, but it also defines the exact place where you want the children to sit. If it is large, it can be folded to suit the size of the group (have children facing away from distractions as much as possible).
3.       Folding canopy - 10 x10 or 10 x15. This is not a necessity, but the main advantage is that it provides a focal point for the event which conveys to passers-by the perception that something is happening here. However, it could have several other uses: 1) shelter for a small group in case of a shower. 2) a source of shade in the absence of trees or buildings. 3) a cover over the registration table. 4) a backdrop for the speaker - if used with one side attached, it can serve as visual barrier for the children or to attach visuals to.
4.       An easel - for chorus sheets, white board, flannel graph, etc.
5.       Additional equipment may be required to support whatever activities have been planned - eg. sports or crafts. 

Advertising

On the Saturday that preceded each VBS week, about 600-700 small, colorful invitations were distributed in the areas immediately adjacent to the park. 

The Weather

Surprisingly, for Vancouver, a session has never had to be cancelled for rain for three summers, although on a couple of occasions, a tarp was erected to ward off a shower. It would be wise to keep an eye on the daily and log-range forecast, and have a contingency plan in case of rain, or to make it known that each session is weather permitting. 

Admittedly, there may be some climates that are not conducive to being outdoors. The weather could be too hot like Tombstone or too cold like Tuktoyuktuk. However, most parts of North America have some part of the day that would be pleasant enough for this kind of activity. 

What Measures Success?

Yes, it would be wonderful to see a child saved during a week of VBS, but maybe our efforts are only part of series of things God will use to reach a soul. Results cannot always be seen, and sometimes results are delayed.  "… that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together." John 4:36

Don't be unduly excited or discouraged by numbers. The largest session this summer was over 100 children and parents, but for the last week, there were about 12 children plus two or three adults. It may have been a wrong choice of location, but what if one of those 12 children, or a parent, was saved as a result?


Victoria Drive Gospel Hall  (click to email) Vancouver, BC

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Letter to Those in Grief



If you are like many of us, you have often wondered what can be said to someone in the community who has suffered a great loss - either in death or a tragic family circumstance. Even though you don't know them, you would like to express your condolences and also say something that may help point them to the Lord. Of course, you know that now is not the time to give them a full-orbed Gospel message. To send them a regular Gospel tract inside a sympathy card would seem insensitive to their great loss. But is there anything that can be said at such a time that would gently encourage them to turn their eyes to the Lord - perhaps initially for comfort but ultimately for eternal life?

The draft below might be of some value to you as you consider what you might write or send. Feel free to use it and customize it as you see fit. Also if you think of something more appropriate that could be said in such a letter or card you could leave your thoughts in the comment section below. 

Dear
We are sending this note to say that we have been sincerely touched to hear of the life-storm you are experiencing. Although we are unknown to you, we want you to know that since hearing of your deeply painful circumstances (or your tragic and profound loss), we have been praying for you.
In times of crisis and sorrow and darkness, God can draw near in deep compassion and comfort broken hearts and shattered lives.
Even in the absence of answers to our painful questions, in the very sad solitudes of life, people have opened their hearts to God’s comfort and their ears to His loving voice. For some, turning to the Lord may have been a last resort to find comfort and purpose behind the raging black clouds of life.  It gives us hope and confidence to know the Lord came into their lives and blessed them in a way they had not experienced before in life.
God understands sorrow and His loving heart is touched. On three occasions we read of Jesus weeping when He was here on earth. Jesus tenderly invited people who were filled with distress and crushed by heavy burdens to come to Him for rest. In the Bible a beautiful invitation from Jesus is given in Matthew 11:28: “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest.”
The little gift card enclosed is a mere token to express our condolences and perhaps help you with a meal in the days ahead. Be assured we will keep you in our prayers and if you ever want to contact us for further prayer our information is below.
Kindest Regards with Deepest Sympathy

PS. A thank-you note is not necessary.


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Vacant Store Windows to Display the Gospel

Growing up we would often drive past a business that would have a catchy, relevant, thought-provoking or seasonal saying on their sign. We were always interested to see and read what message was being displayed as we passed by each time. 

Currently, we drive past a “second hand” store that has five large windows on the main street of town. Although it’s only a “second-hand” store, the window displays they create and set-up are delightful to look at and are timely with the seasons, making people want to study their displays. Knowing how visually engaging signs and window displays can be I thought about how wonderful it would be to use the “unattractive” window space of an empty store front to display the Gospel message. 

Once I located an empty store with a good window space, I contacted the real estate agent listed on the “For Rent” sign in the window. I explained to her we were a small church group that would like to use the window space for timely, seasonal displays while incorporating awareness of our local church. To further “sell” my idea to her, I also said something about helping to “beautify the downtown” instead of “unsightly empty stores.” I said we would be able to pay a little something for their hassle - $50 per month. 

The real estate agent seemed interested but had to get the okay from the owner. She called back in a couple of days and said that the owner agreed with only three conditions: 
  1. the “For Rent” sign must always be visible, 
  2. that we would use only the window area, and 
  3. that we would also be able to completely vacate the building in the event that they would get it rented out. 
It was easy to agree to those conditions and we arranged for a time to meet to get the keys. 

It was wonderful timing as we were able to “advertise” the series of summer Gospel tent meetings our assembly was planning and a Community BBQ at the tent site. The Ten Commandments along with the ‘Good News” of Salvation through Jesus was boldly displayed another month. 




Doing a window display involves a desire to reach lost souls for the LORD, along with the creativity to display the Gospel in an engaging and attractive manner. Several Christians working as a team, using their various gifts the LORD has given them, spreads the “work-load” out. It takes time to design, create and then put the display in place. 
 
We will never know this side of Eternity, the value of “advertising” the Gospel of our LORD Jesus Christ. A window display in an empty store may be a stepping stone the LORD will use to draw precious souls to Himself. 

Invited submission from Shirlee Groothuis (click on her name to email your inquiries) in fellowship at the Clinton, ON Gospel Hall.
 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

How Great Thou Art - Missions Version

How Great Thou Art
Missions Version - submitted by Becky Kew

Oh when I think of all the many millions
Who do not know the sound of Thy sweet Name;
Who do not know the miracle of Calvary,
Who cannot yet Thy great salvation claim.

Chorus 1:
Then cries my soul, "Oh, teach me how to pray!
Until they know how great Thou art."
Then cries my soul, "Oh, teach me how to pray!
 Until they know how great Thou art."

And when they know that Jesus died to save them,
And when they know that grace which He imparts;
When Jesus shines His love divine within them
When He transforms their sinful darkened hearts.

Chorus 2:
Then shall they sing, "My Saviour God to Thee,
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!"
Then shall they sing, "My Saviour God to Thee,
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!"

Oh, joy to be part of this proclamation,
To send the news: He knows, He loves, He cares;
Lord, may I then in humble dedication,
Renew my faith, my love, my zeal to Thee.

Chorus 3:
Then cries my heart, "Oh, teach me, Lord to care
Until they know how great Thou art"
Then cries my heart, "Oh teach me, Lord to care,
Until they know how great Thou art.

PS. If you would like to sing this hymn with others, I have a file I will send you. Click here. It has four copies of the hymn on a sheet of paper.  All you have to do is run off copies and then cut them. 25 sheets = 100 copies of the hymn to distribute for singing.