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


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Ark in Gospel Outreach Summer of 2014


4th of July Parade – Arlington, WA
We had a good turnout of coworkers from the Assembly for both the parade and the Street Fair.

For the parade, there were 7 or 8 people walking down the street on each side of the ark handling out approximately 1200 seed sower packets to the crowd. The packets were well received. The younger children had fun handing out candy along the route.

The judges were very impressed giving us 1st prize in the float division.


Street Fair
The street fair was also a great opportunity to share the gospel with the many people that visited the ark. We had a 10 X 30 space which gave us room for a gospel table with seed sower packets, gospel tracts, booklets and magnets on it and another table for doing crafts with the children. The crafts were in conjunction with the ark.


The ark is certainly a great tool to draw people in, providing opportunities for conversations and giving out literature. It is also an encouragement to other fellow Christians who are excited and happy to see the gospel available to the community.

Because the ark is a new addition to our summer outreach activities, we assist the Christians in the ordering of suitable tracts, Seed Sower packets and any special printing requirements tailored to the needs of each Assembly, etc. We prepare most of the kids’ packets for the craft table and have people from the Assembly do the Seed Sower packets.

A special thanks to Dave Smith, Deep Cove, BC and those who helped him build the ark. It is very easy to transport and equally easy to set up. We get many compliments on the workmanship from both saved and unsaved alike.


We plan to have the ark at the Lynden WA Fair in Aug. for one week in connection with the Lynden Assembly. Then in the first week of Sept. we will be at the Okanogan WA Fair working with the Assembly there. The following week we will be at Rock Creek B.C. working with the West Bank Assembly.

Submitted (as requested) by: Bryon Meyers  

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Gym Nights and Outreach Activities – Englehart, Ontario


For the last number of years, the assembly in Englehart, Ontario has run a regular children’s outreach call Gym Night.  We use the gym at the local public school. (We are very thankful that school board in our area allows community groups to use the schools after hours.)  We begin each school year by sending invitations to the community, advertising that Gym night is starting again for the fall.  We have used the postal service as well as a booth at the local Fall Fair to distribute these invitations.  The invitation that is most effective is the personal invitation, speaking to the kids and parents as we meet them in the community and the kids inviting their friends.



Gym Night is advertised for 1 hour but we open the gym a half hour before starting time, for the kids to have free time to play.  This time allows us to ‘hang out’ with the kids, get to know them and spend time with them, just shooting hoops, turning the skipping rope, chatting about their day, etc.  It also allows them to run around for a bit before they are asked to sit and listen to the lesson. 

            The structured time includes
1.      Singing a few well known Sunday School songs
2.      Teaching a verse
3.      Sharing a Bible Story
4.      Playing gym games for about half an hour (plus crafts/activities for the younger kids).





We have noticed that so many kids from the community have no Bible knowledge at all, so we have consecutively taught the major Bible Stories – it takes about 3 years to start at creation and work through to the end of the Book of Acts, then start over.



We try to get Gym nights started ASAP at the beginning of the school year, in general “If there is school on a Tuesday, there is Gym night Tuesday evening.”

The rules of Gym Night are as follows:
1.      Respect God
2.      Respect Each Other
3.      Respect the school

During the year we have 2 special Gym Nights
1.      “Christmas Party” which includes Christmas Carols, a Christmas message and cookie decorating and then eating.



2.     “Year End Party” (like a Sunday School picnic - at the same time and place as Gym Night usually is held) – we hire a French Fry Truck and serve everyone French Fries, Hamburgers, etc. then (weather permitting) have the message outside in the school yard, followed by outside games.



Over the years, kids have started coming when they are quite young and would continue into their late elementary school years.  As we noticed this happening we were burdened to encourage these older kids to continue to come and listen to the Word of God.  So we began a “Teen and Tween Night” on a Friday Night once a month.  We started by inviting the Gym night kids who were in Grade 6 and older – and told them to invite their friends.  We use Facebook, email, personal invitations, to contact these Teens and their families to let them know when and where the next Teen Night will be.

The schedule is very flexible, each night is different but the general structure is about an hour each for:
1.      Eating supper
2.      Singing and message,
3.      Enjoying some activity and social time. 
(The order may vary, which helps keep interest)



The kids really look forward to the meal – we try to have good homemade food (turkey or roast beef dinners, fresh bread, homemade pizzaor pies, etc.).  For the singing we have a power point presentation that is just for Teen night, it includes a few older hymns but mostly newer hymns that are full of the Gospel.  The Gospel is the main focus of the message since so many kids that come are not yet believers.  After the message we plan some type of fun activity and time to just hang out and have fun together. 

Examples:
1.      spaghetti supper & gym games (volleyball, basketball, dodge ball, etc.) at the school gym
2.      baseball game & BBQ at the ball field
3.      skating at the local arena – then to a Christian’s home for pizza
4.      Progressive supper to the Christians homes.
5.      Group games – such as “Four on the Couch”, “Pictionary”, “Charades”, “Win it in a Minute” games, etc.
6.      Turkey dinner, Christmas carol sing at a nursing home then assembling & decorating Gingerbread houses.
7.      Board games – often during sports for the kids that don’t enjoy sports.
8.      Mystery meal (make up menus with strange names for normal food, the kids order off the menu, and ‘solve’ what items they want to order – Lots of Fun!)
9.      Snowman building contests
10.  Hiking in the local park and camp fire
11.  Photo Scavenger hunt.



These outreaches draw the assembly together and give every willing person a job to do.  There are many different ways believers can be involved in this work, some are obvious, and others are not as obvious but just as necessary:

o   The men that do the speaking.
o   Those that play the games with the kids and befriend the kids and their families.
o   The ladies that cook the meal and serve the kids at Teen Night.
o   The sister that plans the crafts for Gym Night.
o   Keeping attendance, getting permission forms, etc.
o   The sister that babysits the younger kids during teen night so their parents are free to run the outreach.
o   The young believers who invite their school friends and then hang out with them.
o   The sister that books the gym and makes arrangements with the school.
o   The senior couple that bring juice boxes every week to Gym night.
o   The believers that attend and supervise the hallways during Gym Nights. 
o   The people that donate candies, treats, food, and cookies to special Gym Night events.
o   The many believers that contribute financially to the groceries for Teen Nights.
o   Sending out invitations, by mail, email, Facebook, etc.
o   The support of the ‘front line workers’ in interest, general prayer and encouragement.
o   Those not physically able to attend but ask for a copy of the attendance list so they can pray specifically for each child, parent & teen!

As a result of these outreaches to the children and Teens of the community, families have been contacted.  Parents & Grandparents often come and are happy to listen to the message as it is presented to the kids.  Many souls young and older have heard the gospel at these outreaches over the past few years.  Some adults have been saved and come into fellowship in the local assembly as a direct result of their kids coming to Gym night and Teen night.  Most of the young people in this small community have heard the gospel at least once and a few have professed to be saved.  As well, we have contacted believers in the community that are looking for Christian fellowship.  God is working and His word is not returning void.

For more information contact Karen Marshall 


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Community Advertising for Special Events

So there's an opportunity for the community to be exposed to the Gospel or to just establish relationships with Christians in the area. There are multiple ways to advertise such events. Be sure to advertise.

Beautiful postcards are easy to produce and relatively inexpensive. Our annual Christian Conference is held in May each year. So we found a local May scene that would be meaningful to the local public. A suitable and appealing Bible [Gospel] verse was selected for the scene. 


The details of the event were provided on the reverse side of the card in black and white.


The quality of the actual image and printing on the card is far superior to what is shown above.

You can shop around. We have used www.vistaprint.ca for a couple of years and have been satisfied. You can upload the images to their website and design your postcard - back and front - all online. It is very user friendly.

If you want an idea on the price - as of May, 2014: we ordered 1000 glossy finished coloured postcards on card stock - black and white on reverse side, with 250 matching envelopes. Total price, including shipping, was $78.06 and was received within 10 days of placing the order.

These postcards are available to all the Christians for their distribution. The 250 matching envelopes are available for community contacts to whom Christians may want to mail personal invitations as opposed to hand-delivery.

If there is a website connected to the local event, be sure to include it on your invitation. 






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