The community around my church has changed from mostly church members into an international community. What’s the best way for my church reach out with the gospel?
According to the Pew Research Center, immigrants to the United States numbered 44.5 million people in 2017. That equates to almost 14 percent of the U.S. population and is the highest number since 1910. Canada’s three largest minority groups are South Asians, Chinese, and Blacks, most of whom live in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. The presence of immigrants throughout North America presents your church with wonderful opportunities to welcome, embrace, and present the gospel in a winsome way.
Missiologists Craig Van Gelder and Dwight Zscheile wrote, “It is good news to affirm that God chooses regular, imperfect, and even unlikely people in the contemporary world in which many people feel caught in depersonalized and dehumanizing political, economic, and social systems and structures. . . . In God’s mission, anyone can play a critical role” (Participating in God’s Mission, p. 270).
I suggest asking your congregation some hard questions about how closed or open it is to reaching out to new immigrants. Church demographer Thom Rainer provides warning signs for inward-focused churches. These include (1) conducting very few attempts to minister to those in the community; (2) meeting any change toward becoming evangelistic with anger and resistance; and (3) seeing the past as more important than the present (ThomRanier.com). Checking to see if your church exhibits these signs will suggest how ready your church might be to reach out or what barriers it must overcome.
Author Rajendra Pillai provides some helpful tips for meeting your neighbors: It takes time and patience over several months before sharing the gospel. Be willing to share your own story of pain and joy when appropriate. Do not stop praying for the person or family. Share life together through dinners, children’s events, and community events (Reaching the World in Our Own Backyard, p. 19).