By Vince Williams
May 10, 2011
Outreach is a biblical pursuit. At SermonView, we get excited about helping churches become more effective with their outreach. Today’s outreach efforts fall mainly into two categories, what I’ll call the “flashlight” and the “laser”, but by combining the best of both techniques there is a third option that is both exciting and intriguing.
Flashlight methods follow the commission given to us in Mark 16:15: “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” This method suggests that our goal is to shed light on the world, with the broadest reach possible. For example, billboards, church signs, or television spots would fit this category.
But flashlight methods don’t penetrate very deeply. They can also be expensive and time consuming. While this way of reaching people with the message of Christ has offered real life change to some people, most will admit that this method has a small effect on pre-believers if left on its own.
The laser is the opposite approach, more closely following Matthew 28:19: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” The laser campaign focuses its energy on deeper relationships, with more emphasis on discipleship than mass communication. These forms of outreach include one-on-one opportunities and different small group offerings, like grief groups or marriage conferences. These give people an opportunity to encounter God through relationship with His children, and we strongly believe that every church should have this as a major component of their community outreach efforts. The downside, however, is that laser methods are generally limited to the points of contact your church already has: friends inviting friends, or past members.
Both of these methods are biblical, and done right, can be fruitful. We have personally helped with both styles of campaigns, but we started wondering, how can we combine the best of both methods? We wanted a way for churches to reach people not connected to their community, right when they are likely to be looking for hope the most.
This is what led to New Neighbors.
In its simplest form, SermonView’s New Neighbors program is a way to reach new movers. Why? Because people going through a major life change are more open to spiritual matters. Because moving is one of life’s major stressful events, but more importantly, it is symptomatic of other more stressful life events: death of a loved one, divorce, marriage, change in family dynamics, and change in employment are all major reasons for people to move. They are also the highest rated causes of stress in an individual.1
The life change leading to a move, together with the move itself, is a significant event. We believe it can also be an opportunity for God to work through us to reach people in time of need.
New Neighbors automatically reaches people who have recently moved, with a focus on inviting them to a safe and friendly environment. Your church gets the benefit of reaching people that are not connected to your body, while targeting people that are most likely to respond to your invitation. This gives you increased response while decreasing the expense of typical direct mailing campaigns.
New Neighbors is something our entire team is excited about. It’s a unique method that combines the best of the flashlight and laser. It’s easy to get started, and once you’re set up, it all happens automatically. New Neighbors gives you the ability to reach people at the right time to have them say yes to the invitation that God has for their life. And that is exciting.