While summer is in full swing, many pastors and church staff are looking towards the fall and planning for one of the busiest times on the church calendar. But in the midst of Sunday schools, small groups, and back-to-school bashes, it’s important to create spaces for newcomers, young Christians, or churchgoers struggling with questions about faith. How can we build this type of relational evangelism into the church calendar?
Many churches around the US and Canada have been using Christianity Explored courses in creative ways to do just that. Here are four ideas on how to use any of our courses to invite spiritual seekers to encounter Jesus through your church this fall.
New Members Class
“We realized people had gone through our whole membership process and never read a book of the Bible or never felt like they could ask their basic questions about Jesus and the Bible.” – Brett, pastor in Littleton, CO
Brett’s church always sought to offer tangible discipleship steps for their churchgoers, no matter where they were at in their spiritual walk. But, Brett realized their church had forgotten a step – right at the very beginning! “We all just assumed everyone joining small groups was already a Christian and had no objections to faith, which wasn’t true. We needed a unique step between Sunday morning services and small groups.” After seeing Christianity Explored run at a nearby church, they realized the course fit their need perfectly. Now, every person goes through Christianity Explored as a part of the new member process. “It gave people space to ask basic questions they were too embarrassed to ask in church or small groups.”
Tip: if your church doesn’t have a new members class, consider adding a Christianity Explored course to your small group rotation. Advertise the course in such a way that people who have questions, but aren’t ready for a theologically heavy small group, know that they have a place to belong.
Follow-up to Vacation Bible School
One of the biggest blessings of vacation Bible schools and summer camps is that they bring in a host of new families from the community, many of whom have little to no connection to Christ or the church. But one of the biggest challenges is how to follow-up with these families once summer break is over. Hope Explored is designed to be a low-commitment, nonthreatening follow-up step that works well with people who may be hesitant about getting involved with church. Hope Explored is short (three weeks) and Gospel focused, answering our most basic questions about Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Plus, who isn’t looking for a real hope that lasts? Consider using your closing celebration of VBS to invite parents to a Hope Explored course in the fall.
Tip: Line up your next discipleship step (such as a Christianity Explored course) after Hope Explored, trusting that people’s appetites for the Gospel will be growing.
Bonus tip! Consider running our children’s course, Epic Explorers, for kids while their parents are in Christianity Explored. Both parent and child will go through Mark’s Gospel at the same time!
“Going through Christianity Explored as a church really helped develop a culture of evangelism and helped people begin to think beyond the walls of our church.” – Steve, pastor in Colorado Springs
Midweek services are often smaller gatherings of the more dedicated members of your church. This group may also be your best pool of future Christianity Explored table leaders! But before asking members to lead their own CE course, use your midweek service to go through Christianity Explored together. As you go through the course with fellow Christians, be intentional about looking at the Gospel of Mark with fresh eyes. Encourage members to put themselves in the point of view of a nonChristian who may be reading the Bible and encountering Jesus for the first time. Finally, as you go through the course, pray together about how, when, and whom God may be asking you to share the Gospel with through Christianity Explored.
“Life Explored gave us a framework to go out into the community and have conversations around life and faith.” – Hayato, church member, LE table leader in San Diego
You may remember the story we shared of the San Diego church that ran Life Explored in a coffee shop and then a surf shop with tremendously encouraging results. Your church can do the same! This fall, consider using a Christianity Explored or Life Explored course to invite your members outside the church building. Look for a welcoming community space such as a coffee shop, library, local brewery, or even a park (if the weather’s nice!). Gather a small team of church members and ask each of them to invite someone who may not be comfortable coming to a church building. And of course, keep your eyes open for who God might bring by on any given night!
Tip: For advice on how to use our courses in a nontraditional location, please feel free to reach out to us or read how our San Diego friends ran their Life Explored course in a public setting.
No matter how you choose to use Christianity Explored this fall, our team is here to support you. Reach out to us with your questions, be sure to register your course and check out our Leader’s Area, which is full of resources and training. We pray that your church’s fall ministry reaches many with the good news of Jesus and plants Gospel seeds to be harvested for years to come.