A few years ago, I was able to visit Alaska. I had always wanted to do a little gold prospecting. I found a place that provided the pay dirt, pan, water, and a little training. I took the pay dirt and placed it in my pan and added water. Prospecting takes time as you try to filter through the dirt and find the gold. You go through a lot of pay dirt before you find anything. Once the process is complete, you may find a glistening speck of gold at the bottom of the pan, or on a good day, a nice nugget. It can take hours and hours before you get anything. Many prospectors spend months before they get a payoff. Since the prize is so valuable, they never give up!
Churches need contacts for their survival. Without contacts, there will be no prospects. A contact is anyone you know who is not a Christian. A prospect is a contact we are trying to cultivate into a Bible study. Church members are the best at identifying and bringing contacts to the local church. While preachers are most often surrounded by saints, members are more often surrounded by sinners. Once the names of these contacts are known, prospecting starts.
One simple method that involves the entire congregation is using Compassion Cards. This is not an “at-large” card mission but a targeted effort to send dozens of cards to a lost person. We hope that showing our compassion will open their hearts. Each year we baptize several people as a result of this effort.
Filtering through the contacts takes time, patience, and prayer. Additional prospecting methods include meals, personal visits, visitor bags, new-movers baskets, benevolence, community events, acts of service/kindness, and good old-fashioned hospitality. Once this process is completed, you will have filtered out all the unfruitful contacts and be left with gold!
Contacts lead to prospects, and prospects lead to Bible studies. Bible studies lead to baptisms, and baptisms to growing churches. Jumping from a contact to a Bible study is too long a leap. The most difficult part of evangelism is prospecting. It takes a lot of time and effort to reach the lost, but the end result is GOLD. Once you find it, you will keep coming back, because there is not a mission more important nor a reward more valuable than just one soul (Matthew 16:26)