I have yet to meet a church leader who didn’t desire to impact his community for Christ. The very reason we invest our lives into the work of the local church is that we believe in the power of the gospel and the love of God for every person.
People who’ve heard about our Love Works initiative last fall have shown significant interest in the program.
Lancaster Baptist Church has long been known for its passion in personal soulwinning. For decades, Pastor Chappell has inspired and trained our members, staff, and leaders to diligently share the gospel with our community. Last fall was no different. Once again we knocked on tens of thousands of doors, worked daily to have first-time guests in our worship services, made hundreds of follow-up visits, and—by the grace of God—saw many souls saved, baptized, and discipled. But we introduced one new ingredient to the recipe—good works.
Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Jesus “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). Paul and Peter both exhorted believers to practice “good works” (Titus 3:8, 14; 1 Peter 2:12). This is not an attempt to replace personal soulwinning. It is designed to fuel personal soulwinning by creating additional opportunities to present the gospel.
When we shared our outreach plans with the Lancaster Baptist Church family last fall, we presented three objectives:
To express the love of God through works of kindness and compassion. We believe love manifests itself in action (1 John 3:16–18) and that Jesus has called us to generously show love to those who offer nothing in return (Luke 6:32–25).
To share the gospel of Christ with as many people as possible. In addition to seeing people saved at their doorsteps and during the Sunday altar call, we sought to share Christ in the highways and hedges literally.
To impact our community as the body of Christ. Everywhere Jesus went, hearts were touched and hope was given. He intersected people’s lives where they lived, and they were never the same! We wanted to make ourselves available to our Lord—as His spiritual body—to continue this work through us.
How did we go about it? First, we identified projects in the community. After a couple of brainstorming sessions, we were blessed to secure permission to serve donuts at the DMV, provide meals to high school football teams, offer coffee in commuter parking lots, visit hospitalized children, serve hot dogs at the farmer’s market, deliver lunches to school children, provide lunch for police officers, feed the homeless, offer an outdoor orchestra concert, and paint a local park’s facilities.
Then, we presented the opportunities to the congregation. Pastor Chappell preached a stirring message on the Good Samaritan, and we unveiled a web-based portal where people could register to participate in a project. The response was overwhelming. Christians truly want to make a difference—they simply need to be shown the way.
Next, we “went every where preaching the word” (Acts 8:4). Uniformed in our Love Works t-shirts, we deployed into action during a three-week period, meeting up with one another all over town, all hours of the day, serving our neighbors and opening our New Testaments as the Lord gave opportunity.
Then, we celebrated the impact. As we crossed paths with people during our projects, we shared with each of them an invitation to a special Sunday at Lancaster Baptist Church. On that day, we had more first-time guests than nearly any other Sunday of the year, and (of course) Pastor Chappell preached the gospel to them.
Finally, we followed up. As always, we followed up with our first-time guests and the people who made decisions. We have also followed up with community leaders with whom we collaborated and hundreds of prospects we met during our projects.