Here is an example of a church that offers the Christianity Explored course on Sunday mornings, and uses it as a first step for guests to connect with the church.
We had an evangelistic logjam in our congregation and hosting Christianity Explored on Sunday mornings has been the key to clearing the path for non-Christians to come to know Christ and join his church.
Our logjam was a result of fear, as it usually is. Yes, it was part fear of re-introducing ourselves to neighbors whose names we forgot, part fear of talking about our faith and the potential risk of rejection, but mainly it was the fear of what would happen to non-Christian friends and neighbors when they were invited and then came through the door of our church. Where could they put the baggage they were bringing with them? Where could they find answers to questions that concern them? Where could they go that they would perceive to be ‘safe’? Where could they be introduced to what we believe before they dived into a corporate worship service?
The answer was to host, three times a year, Christianity Explored during the Sunday School hour at our church. We stretched the day-away into 3 more Sundays worth of material (bringing us up to 10 Sundays worth of material), and exchanged a full meal for coffee and snacks.
Some benefits were immediate. The time resolved two of our logistical challenges: childcare and overly busy Mon-Sat schedules for guests and table-leaders alike. I, as a pastor, gained a place to confidently invite visitors to attend, as well as a place to train, over the next few years, a majority of the congregation in Christianity Explored and a gracious apologetic.
Other benefits were long-term. Over time, our members gained renewed confidence to invite people to visit our church and that when someone said “yes,” (and sometimes a ‘yes’ takes years of relationship building!), Christianity Explored would still be offered and myself and others would be there ready to receive them. After five years, all of our major events and outreach groups and all of our members now point to Christianity Explored with confidence as ‘the first step,’ and from Christianity Explored participants can naturally join any of the other discipleship courses on offer during that time Sunday morning and continue to join us for worship after.
The logjam has been cleared. Non-Christians have come to know Christ and join his church, and Christianity Explored has been the tool that the Lord has helped us use to clear the way.
Rev. Joshua M. Knott
Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Newark, DE. (PCA)