The church of Christ began by reaching out to those who should have been closest to the truth. Luke records, “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The church then began to reach out to those who were further away from the God of the Bible. When looking for a place to begin today, it seems wise to follow the same strategy.

Most Christians associate with people like them. These are normally religious people with similar moral beliefs. This is what we might identify as “Jerusalem.” Christianity is the fulfillment of Judaism. The message of Peter in Acts 2 resonated in Jerusalem as the Old Testament Scriptures had been preparing these Jews and prostyles for sixteen hundred years. There were 3,000 low-hanging fruits on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:41). Their foundation was already laid, so the message was able to quickly build on it, and the result was salvation.

Now that you have prospected those who were closest, it is time to move up the proverbial tree to those who may not share your values. Perhaps they are religious but unchurched. Their parents were more like you, but they are one generation removed from that old time religion and have fewer convictions. They still believe in God and the Bible, and they have a basic understanding of the Christ, but they do not know a lot about New Testament Christianity. They have been distracted by the world and need spiritual nourishment. It takes patience, but with prospecting and a Bible study tool like Back to the Bible, some can be pulled out of the fire and saved.

Looking at the top of the tree, we find the most challenging group, but if we are going to follow the biblical pattern, they must be reached. Those who do not have a traditional view of God, Christ, and the Bible must be prospected first by the same love and concern you have for those you know. People all over the world respond well to compassion cards, visits, meals, and acts of community outreach. Once prospected, the Bible study is just right around the corner.

It is now time to open up your evangelistic tackle box and pull out a different set of lures. Although Back to the Bible is effective among those “like you” it is not the best tool to use in Athens. Enter, Believe the Bible. This is a new tool developed for the non-religious, the unbelievers, and those from non-Christian beliefs. Lesson A is titled, “The Affirmation of God.” Lesson B is titled, “Bible Inspiration.” Lesson C is titled, “Christ: Who is He?”

Our comfort zone is a tight circle that does not always resemble the entire community. The pattern for the spread of the gospel in Acts provides Christians today with a road map on where to begin and how to proceed in evangelism efforts. In short, first seek to pick the fruit closest to the ground. Those who sit in your pews and visitors are ripe for the picking. Begin moving up the tree to your peers, friends, and family. As you climb the tree, adjust your approach and change out the lures to be the most effective soul winner possible. Jesus said, “Say not ye, there are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:35).

Congregational Reports
Coldwater church of Christ, Kentucky: Luke Puckett (preacher) reports, “Our continued focus is on tornado relief. We are seeing opportunities arise to help families with the needs they have. Some need help with places to stay, or replacing items lost in the storm. We have been able to help several families. We have begun one Bible study and we are to start another study this week. We also have made many contacts that we are sending cards to with the hope of turning contacts into prospects and hopefully be able to teach the gospel. We know this will be a long process and are ready for the next several months or longer to develop these contacts.

We are also working on our non-tornado contacts. We have been helping one family, who is going through cancer treatments, for several months. This is a good prospect for us. We are helping them through this process and are sending him cards, too. I pray this will lead to a study with them.
We are also following up with a few other contacts that we have made. We feel everything is moving in the right direction and pray God is glorified in all that we are doing.”

East Main church of Christ, Murfreesboro, Tennessee: Brad Rowley (elder) reports“Due to COVID and inclement weather conditions last week, our evangelism program was delayed. We are still very optimistic and will try again this week. Thankful to say, we did pick up a new Bible study with a wayward member. We studied the Prodigal Son to help her understand the love that God has for us. The study will continue with the existence of God and Christian evidence. We continued with our on-going studies with Gavin, Alundra, and Shawn last week.

We are in the process of improving the flow of contact information. We have been using the HTHSOE contact cards. We ask folks to utilize the back of the contact card to get additional information. We struggle to get enough information. As a result, we are designing a specific card for East Main. The front of our card asks for specific information, and the back of the card is a history of actions taken. Hopefully we can share the card with HTH next week after we get it formatted. We are interested to see if other congregations have developed something specific for their congregation.

The greatest news is watching one of our new converts, Gavin, reaching out to share the gospel with his family. Second Timothy 2:2 is the heart of our discipleship program: “Commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” When you have the greatest gift, how can you not share it! It is also encouraging to see some of our ladies reaching out to one of our new members, Megan. We have picked up some more volunteers for the New Mover and Visitor program. We received a new contact through our visitor program that we will be following up on this week. We are blessed at East Main and very thankful. To God be the glory!”

Crossville church of Christ, Tennessee: Alan Judd reports, “Despite winter weather and an increase in sickness, we continue to move forward with evangelism efforts. This past Sunday visitors were present that we hope to encourage and eventually gain an opportunity for a Bible study. Additionally, a Bible study was conducted at Howard Burnette’s home during the snowstorm. We pray for these and other possibilities that God will bless with the power of His Word to lead these to salvation and obedience to the Gospel. Groundwork that is now being done will enable us to hit the ground running when better weather returns and sickness diminishes.”

Deerfoot church of Christ, Birmingham, Alabama: Richard Harp (preacher) reports, “The congregation at Deerfoot is serious about our outreach in the community. We have just hired an outreach minister to help us in our endeavors. He will champion the progress we have been making. He will start next week. His name is Jeffery Howell, and he absolutely loves Back to the Bible. He has some great ideas and is a soul winner for Christ. He started a ministry in the local nursing home where he was and baptized 10 people through a ten-step Bible Study method his family developed. We are excited about his coming.”

Eisenhower church of Christ, Odessa, Texas: Allen Weakland (preacher) reports, “As the New Year begins, the opportunities for evangelism seem to have increased. Eisenhower is still reaching out to a number of individuals that have been confronted with numerous health issues. Dr. Abrams is right in the middle of his cancer treatments—which seem to be taking a toll on his body—please pray that we might be given a chance to study with him. We received a request from a person in the community to place his friends on our prayer list. We have not only been praying for this couple as they deal with Covid, but we are gathering to send many compassion cards as well. We are still engaged in our Bible correspondence courses—but we are hoping to move to an in-person Bible study. Please pray for this to happen. We were asked about taping for worship service. The young man said he watched them after work. We will immediately set up a time to have him and his family over for dinner. Due to his work, this has been a challenge—pray that God gives us an opportunity for this study. Lastly, we are still awaiting our evangelism table cover to arrive. However, that has not stopped our efforts to display material.”

Warner Robins church of Christ, Georgia: Dave Domingue (elder) reports, “The Warner Robins congregation continues to expand our evangelism activities. The compassion cards are a great hit—praying for open doors and hearts. The Tuesday Ladies Bible class has taken the responsibility to assemble and maintain our new mover baskets. Other ladies organize our Visitor Gift Bags (decorated by our elementary kids), and Greeters are geared up to do their part. The new Growing in Christ class taught by our elders is well received. Several ongoing studies—a lot happening, more to do—need to get more members involved.”

Riverbend church of Christ, Georgia: Austin Fowler (member) reports, “We had a great study Wednesday night with Ms. Bassler! She understood biblical authority and said she really enjoyed the study. When we did the section on the Old and New Testament, she said, ‘I’ve never seen it like that before and it makes sense.’ We are going to do study number two this coming Wednesday. My study Thursday got pushed back a week. Lord willing, I will study with Ansley on Thursday. Pray for these souls and the studies!”

Rock Valley church of Christ, Tompkinsville, Kentucky: Jason Thompson (member) reports, “Our studies are continuing. One of the Bible studies is with family who have already obeyed. A study with a young man has been delayed because he is sick.  Hopefully it will continue later this week. Please keep these in your prayers.”

Northern Oaks church of Christ, San Antonio, Texas: Mel Hutzler (preacher/elder) reports, “Despite some setbacks in our evangelism program, we have made some decisions that will help us get back on track. Training, good decisions, and following the weekly plan are key for success. One step at a time is the way to go to get the entire congregation involved. We hope to have more to announce next report as we continue to evangelize.”

University church of Christ, Montgomery, Alabama: Faires Austin reports, “Here is an update on our evangelism program and the leaders of each program.

1. Every Wednesday night a different Study Group meets to write cards to our visitors (Sam & Lindsay Moore).

2. We have our Visitor Welcome Bags prepared and ready to be distributed as needed (Teresa Mathews and her daughters Jamie and Laura Ann).

3. We are ready to launch our New Movers Program. I understand that 10 families have volunteered to be a part of this effort thus far (Tim & Terry Bagents).

4. We have the New Movers Buckets prepared to be taken to the new movers in our area (Jennifer Brenneman and her daughter Chloe).

Our Evangelism Program is overseen by deacon Kevin Long and his wife Brittany. Of course, there are many other members involved. We have much more work to do, but we are off to a great start. Covid will not stop the Lord’s work. Thanks, Faires. Press On.”

Corinth church of Christ, Portland, Tennessee: James Parker reports, “I have another study set up this week. Steve is trying to set up a study with a visitor.  He has been coming for about three weeks now. We are still working with another couple.”

Peninsula church of Christ, Hampton, Virginia: Ben Phillips reports, “Thankfully COVID’s run through a sizable portion of our congregation seems to be ending. We will be meeting soon to finalize organizing some evangelistic works and planning others. One bright note amongst the slowdown from COVID is that we were able to keep our compassion card work going. We do not intend to stop plowing, sowing, and watering in order for God to give the increase!”

Chesapeake church of Christ, Virginia: Ernest Benjamin (preacher) reports, “I have lesson 3 scheduled with a retired couple on Thursday. I also have a new contact that I am prospecting towards a study. Brother Herman Wine has a study scheduled for Tuesday with a gentleman who visited on Sunday. I will have more to report soon!”

Jacksonville church of Christ, Alabama:  “Our third study with Margie is set for this week. We plan to take her out to eat for her birthday to do a little more prospecting before the study. Her heart seems good, and she has loved the truth she has learned. Keith Ritchey (preacher) reports, ’Franklin Thompson visited the Jacksonville church of Christ with his cousin George Ammons last Wednesday night for Bible study. We went to eat afterwards and had a great time getting know one another. Looking forward to more opportunities with Franklin, and I believe a Bible study is not far away.’ ”

Oak Hill church of Christ, Covington, Georgia: Tate Sutton (preacher) reports, “We have our New Mover Bags ready. I have our houses picked out. We cannot wait to knock a few doors. Three of the houses are my neighbors. I am excited to meet them!”

Cowetta church of Christ, Oklahoma: Keno Shrum (elder/preacher) reports, “Things are progressing well. Hope to get through Lesson 3 BTTB with the couple in a current study.  We are planning, weather permitting, to go out and hand out new movers’ baskets to those on the HTHHTH New Movers list next weekend.”

Cordova church of Christ, Tennessee: Bruce Hatcher (preacher) reports, “Slow but steady. I have a long-term study going on with a guy who in the very least I will convert from theistic evolution to creationism. We will see beyond that. Keep praying as we know God will give the increase.”

Wewoka church of Christ, Oklahoma: Gage Coldwater (preacher) reports, “We are really fighting the covid here right now, but those who are healthy went out door knocking in the community today for two hours. We were checking on people, making sure they had heat and food and working on getting studies. We spent a lot of time at each house as we are trying to develop opportunities for Bible studies. We got one study scheduled for Thursday night! God be thanked!”

Monroe church of Christ, Louisiana: Charles Harris (preacher) reports, “Studied BTTB #1 with Leo and Tami. The study went well, and we are looking forward to a second study. My family and I are still getting settled with the new work. What I have seen so far is that the church here is filled with love and compassion for the lost. They are very hospitable. I believe we will take the next step of having studies set up and carried out by members soon. Looking forward to beginning new evangelistic works here in the near future to help train the church.”