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Borrowing Brains: “Messiah” Outreach Idea

The Lord is doing some tremendous things at TCBC at present, especially as members are giving out the gospel and inviting guests to join us for services. Our “bread and butter” for outreach isn’t events or programs, but equipping and motivating our entire body for “Every Member Evangelism.” The BODY is our best outreach ministry. And the Lord is using them! Please pray for us as much seed is being planted and many professions have been made in recent weeks. It’s been delightful!

Still, we’re wanting to supplement individual outreach with corporate outreach more effectively than we have in the past. One idea I hope we can apply this year is a “Community Messiah Sing.” My intention is to schedule a time early in December in which we invite people from our community to gather at our church building (a) to sing popular portions of Handel’s Messiah together, unrehearsed and with no thought of a performance, (b) to have some refreshments, and (c) to hear a brief discussion of the history and theology of the great work, which will include a clear gospel presentation.

We need to work on the details and viability of it. Have you ever done something like this? Do you have suggestions that would help make it more effective? Or do you have other ideas for outreach via this sort of community event?

Please chime in!


Related: Our most effective corporate outreach ministry thus far is the publication of The Gospel CD, which our members consistently distribute to friends and family members. I commend the idea to you!

48 Responses

  1. If you’ve done something like this, how did you get the word out? We’re not wanting to go through other churches, as community ecumenical services do. We’ll probably try to get announcements out via the community arts associations and such, and also see if we can get it announced in local papers. Other ideas?

  2. Also, is there an affordable source for Messiah scores or selections? Since it’s public domain, would it be possible to make copies ourselves rather than buying full scores?

  3. Chris,

    I comment with a little trepidation, because I don’t want you to read into this. OK? I appreciate your emphasis away from programs and events and making every member of evangelism to be it. That is what we see in Scripture and the BIble is sufficient for methods—let God be glorified! I also trust that you preach a true gospel, not attempting to trick people with something less than the gospel—I don’t see that with you.

    So here goes. Isn’t this just another program or event? Doesn’t this confuse people about what evangelism is? Why would we want to invite unbelieving people to sing Handel’s Messiah? Where in the BIble do we see this? Shouldn’t unbelievers find out from us that God doesn’t hear their praise (Ps 66:18), not invite them to praise? That alone is a trick, isn’t it? We know God won’t hear them, but we invite them in because our culture shows a continued appreciation for Handel’s music?

    I recognize that we’ve got some abilities and even some musical abilities as churches. We can do some big things like the big churches do. We might even reason that we’ll stay too small with only biblical methods. I think it is a matter of faith. I commend you for thinking outward and about the lost.

    I’ve enjoyed some of your songs here, Chris, and have recommended them to others. Our choir is singing one of them in the next few weeks.

  4. I like the idea ALOT! We’ve done and are planning a couple of different events like it.

    Some questions/thoughts:
    Is this the best choice for your culture? Would there be a more relevant choice?–like Christmas songs from Haiti, your choir learns them and then between each you give background info about it and what Gospel aspects are displayed in it. You know them best, I’m just asking.

    Who are you going to attract with a singing/lesson time? Are those the people that you want to attract? Here in Greenville it would be a bunch of upper middle class white people who dig classical music and attend your friend’s church. Do you want to attract more people like yourself? (ps: for some whose cackles have gone up–I think it’s all right to talk about attracting them because we are talking in the context of evangelism and not in the context of corporate worship.)

    You may want to consider a different venue–this might come across to some as entrapment :). Seriously, could you rent a hall downtown or the rotary club? The mall might have an open space. Maybe go to where the people are rather than making them come to you. If you do it at your place, do you have a location that’s not the auditorium that you could use?

    Promotion: Use your natural connections and networks most. I would make posters (11×17) and postcards (4×6)–both with maps/times/etc. This is part of Every Member Evangelism–give them something beautiful that is a natural conversation starter and something they can be proud of handing to a friend. Something that a shop owner wouldn’t be ashamed to have in his window. Pastor Joe can handle developing some AWESOME there. Mail them to anyone who has ever visited (if you can). Use social networks where appropriate.

    Could you go with putting the words on a screen? Depending on your audience, most people only know the melody, so making it easy to sing and easy to see should be critical to planning.

  5. How’s that for two varied responses? :)

    Kent, I appreciate your chiming in. I’ve actually had the same thought–is it appropriate to invite unbelievers to sing biblical truths in a church setting? I think so, having thought about it. It probably shouldn’t be considered or advertised as worship, and I’d not want to include it in a “worship service.” (That said, we have unbelievers singing Christmas hymns as part of the congregation every year, and we don’t ask them to stop.) But to utilize people’s appreciation for the Messiah to get people to think of and recite biblical truth in association with a gospel explanation? I don’t see the danger of it. It’s no “bait and switch.” It’s straightforward invitation to come sing beautifully arranged Bible truth and hear it explained.

    I appreciate the pause, though. Again, I’ve had the same questions myself.

  6. Hey, Josh. Thanks for the comment.

    It’s definitely going to appeal to a particular audience. I’m fine with that, as long as “classical music people” aren’t the only ones we’re approaching with the gospel throughout the year.

    I think getting people into our building could be a good thing. We’d like them to know us, be familiar with who we are and where we meet, and come back.

    Due to the nature of the Messiah, written texts are pretty important. Presumably, people are coming to sing it like they’ve heard it (or sung it before).

    Good questions, though. Thank you both for pushing back a bit. That’s the kind of feedback that’s helpful.

  7. One more thing, Josh. It occurred to me that we could invite sister churches and get a bunch of choir types together. It would sound better. And it would be a fine thing–nothing wrong at all. But we’re aiming at outreach, not mutual edification. So we’ll target our community, while not barring the door for people from like-minded churches. :)

  8. Like Pastor Brandenburg, I am commenting with a bit of trepidation. I don’t mean to rain on the parade here, but before you can have a “Community Messiah Sing” you need to (and this list is off the top of my head and not exhaustive):

    (1) Have a competent musician (typically a pianist or organist) who can play the accompaniment, which is a transcription of orchestral parts (which means it is technically very difficult). Your typical, even your better-than-typical, church pianist/organist will not be able to play this music! (And if the average church pianist tries to play this music, the result will be very sad and very frustrating.) I would never recommend trying to sing Messiah to a recorded tape–most of those recordings are performed far too fast, and amateur musicians are going to have a very hard time following it without serious frustration and chaos.

    (2) Have a competent director who can conduct this music. The typical “songleader” will be utterly lost directing the Messiah and will actually make things harder for the participants to follow.

    (3) Realize that the Messiah cannot (and should not!) be sung via Powerpoint on a screen. You need the real music! Most people who are interested in coming and singing the Messiah are going to know their part (not the melody). Putting the words to “Worthy is the Lamb” up on a screen is not going to help a man sing the bass part or a lady the alto, e.g.! And without those parts, you really do not have the Messiah.
    (4) Remember that what you will be singing is Scripture. In my understanding, this mandates a seriousness of preparation (spiritually, affectively, musically). Until this preparation is seriously under way, you are not ready to think about promotion.

    I honestly do not know where to recommend that you purchase scores. Below is a url from a place I have used before, but I cannot say that it is the best. You can typically purchase both the entire score and a bound version of just the choruses minus the solos. I would assume that serious musicians would already have their own score, which they could bring.


  9. Perhaps ironically, I agree with Josh! :) We did several things like this when I was in Rockford (classical type concerts) and all it “attracted” was gray heads, most of whom attended other churches in town. We packed out the place with 400+ people, but very few unbelievers.

    So first, it doesn’t “work” for your purposes.

    But second, I’ve grown very uncomfortable with any attempts to “attract” people to come hear the gospel, even if it is by using a wonderful work of sacred art! :) I love your individual relationship evangelism; it seems to me to be the most biblical.

    Having said that, I’m all for doing things that enrich the local church, and having a Messiah sing would certainly do that!

  10. What do you have against “gray heads.” You bunch of snobs!

    How can we know that it doesn’t work? We haven’t even tried it yet. :)

  11. Chris, I think it’s a brilliant idea. I will start praying for it’s success!

  12. Okay, I admit it. “Anonymous” was me. I’m so ashamed.

  13. How about comments from someone who has participated in something like this twice in the community?

    First, I am a classically trained singer, so most of the Messiah is pretty well ingrained in there. I have participated in a sing along Messiah with my friend in Maine as well as locally here in Alabama. Both times was one of the most uplifting, God glorifying experiences I have ever been a part of, even though, they weren’t led by, organized by or conducted by what some would consider fundamental Biblical music directors. Perhaps, because I am a purist…I believe the WORD speaks for itself, and Messiah is almost exclusively taken from Scripture.

    I love the idea of a brief history of the work, emphasis on brief, because most will really be there to sing.

    I have always carried my own score, and I do just fine following along from my Watkins Shaw even if they are reading out of the Schirmer. A good resource for scores may be your local community chorus or local semi-professional or professional orchestra. Perhaps even a local college will loan scores out as long as you are willing to pay for any replacements should some come up missing. I know here in Huntsville several of the churches, the community chorus and orchestra have all pooled our copies of scores for various works.

    One suggestion…for a sing along stick with mostly familar choruses, but don’t discount organizing or performing the Easter portions if you have the singers to do it. Some of our favorite songs of Messiah are almost never done. “Since By Man Came Death…by man came also the resurrection of the dead.” The word painting of Christs death and the brightness of His resurrection doesn’t get much better than this! We also love the “All We Like Sheep” how Handel has all of the voices “wandering” like sheep in the music.

    I wish the WHOLE Messiah was performed more often, but I guess it is a big undertaking outside of the collegiate world.

    Second suggestion, scheduling…ours in town is always on a Tuesday night in December. Before kids, I could participate, but now we have family responsibilities during the week that conflict. Perhaps a weekend would be easier for folks with kids to find sitters and attend, or maybe that presents a whole new set of scheduling conflicts? Now that our oldest is 7 I really hope I can bring her soon to a sing-a-long. We listen to Messiah all year round in our house, so the girls are already learning it somewhat by rote.

    We LOVE Messiah, whether singing it, listening to it or watching it performed. I think it can be a blessing to believers and an outreach opportunity. I am imagining how Pacific Garden Mission has hired actors to perform the roles on “Unshackled” and used that as a testimony. Many have come to a personal knowledge of Christ because of working with PGM on that radio show. You could use this as a means to hire professional soloists from your community for the arias and recitatives or even a guest conductor for that matter.

  14. Upon first reading of your idea, Chris, I was reminded of Paul on Mars’ Hill. To many who sing “The Messiah” God is in reality the “unknown God.” I think that declaring the truth about the one that so many “ignorantly worship” has great merit.

    I would concur with Lyn that you would want to have the singing done with a competent accompianist and a competent director. Of course, knowing what I know about the musical resources available to you, that most likely won’t be a problem.

    By the way, “gray heads” need the Lord too! :-)

  15. I don’t mean to be defensive. I was looking for advice, and I’m getting it. Thanks all! :)

    KLP, there is a community group (about 20-25 minutes from us) that does an annual concert, after rehearsing for several weeks. I’m looking at something (a) less formal, and (b) where we can give the gospel. Just a thought. I think we have the musicians to have a respectable reading session in which we at least start and end together. :)

  16. Best message so far is Chris’ calling you all a “bunch of snobs.” (smile) The Name of God will never return void so just say it and do it and stop being so intellectual about it. If the “world” read these messages they wouldn’t have a clue why you are so elevated in your thoughts. Everyone is hurting…..Especially Christians (most, I would quess, don’t even share their hurt because of elevated, seemingly perfect, Christians who may find out how imperfect their lives are). So good for you Chris for your desire to share hope and the true love of God.

  17. Jessica, I am saddened if my comment to Pastor Anderson came across as unnecessarily critical or snobbish. My desire was to (in a very small way) help Pastor Anderson think through and plan TCBC’s Messiah singalong in a way that would glorify Christ and magnify Him before those who desperately need to hear His glorious Gospel. I admit that I am very passionate about the “Messiah,” because I am passionate about the way its Scriptural text and magnificent music join to magnify our God! What a wonderful thing it would be for unsaved men and women to sing the “Messiah,” be gripped and convicted by its Gospel truth, and come to worship and adore the God of whom they have been ignorantly singing!

    I am also thinking practically as one who has accompanied the Messiah on multiple occasions and has a fair idea of what it takes to pull off a Messiah singalong or concert. Consider a potential visitor to TCBC’s Messiah singalong: an unsaved musician. If this musician were to perceive that TCBC were not taking the Messiah seriously (knowing that its text is Scripture), how seriously would this musician take their God? their Gospel message?

  18. My “snob” comment was tongue-in-cheek. Well, mostly. :) It was aimed at Scott and Josh (both of whom are among my friends) for their shrugging off “gray heads.” I’m assuming that their concern isn’t that only the lost elderly would come (which would be very worthwhile), but that only people from other gospel-preaching churches would come. Maybe they’re right. There’s only one way to find out. :)

    Anyway, I wanted input and I’m getting it. Thanks all. It’s all good.

  19. Pastor Anderson: the Gospel message is itself highlighted within the Messiah, which should make your job of presenting the Gospel much easier! I agree with Karen-lyn Parker — consider adding in some of the solos and choruses traditionally sung at Easter, especially those which focus on the Gospel.

  20. That’s a great suggestion. Having some previously prepared solos (or even quartets) could make it more do-able. Thanks!

  21. Kent,

    I’m actually kinda sympathetic to your argument, but I wonder how far you’d take it. Do you have any sort of children’s ministries in your church in which kids who haven’t professed salvation sing praise to God?

  22. Chris, I’d argue that there’s a difference between unbelievers singing hymns in a regular weekly gathering of your church (which I assume you’d agree exists primarily for believers) and creating a special service for the unique purpose of attracting unbelievers.

    Don’t take me wrong. I’m undecided on the issue, not trying to throw cold water on you. I just don’t think your response to Kent is really apples to apples.

  23. Chris, my suggestion would be to intersperse some spoken parts in between some of the music, especially if you could find material about Handel and the history of the composition that highlighted or enhanced the impact of the Scriptures being sung.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  24. Ben,

    We have no evangelistic singing appeal to children. I’m not going to debate with Chris, but I had already considered his argument. I believe we teach children how to worship when they sing in church. We also instruct them how to pray. These are children of our saved parents. I don’t think it’s the same as inviting the community for a sing-a-long.

    I think it is honorable that Chris is thinking about the salvation, but I don’t see evangelistic singing in scripture. I don’t see inviting unsaved people to come and worship with believers. And if it isn’t worship, then what is it?

  25. Leave for a little while and…! This is a coversation to copy and paste and save in the files!

  26. Kent, I’m with you on the corporate service. What about Sunday school/children’s church/AWANA? No singing or you don’t do that stuff at all?

  27. Hey, Chris,

    I like your thoughtful approach to coporate evangelism. One or two events a year devoted to corporate outreach is not an indication that you don’t understand the purpose of the local church. *sigh*

    I’ve often wrestled with the Handel dilema over the years. It is great art. But does the art enhance or distract from the Truth? For us musicians, it absolutely can be profound worship. But I always worry that it will just be so much noise for my cowboys. OK. I know. Nobody really wants to hear me whine. Bottom line is that the LORD has never allowed me to do it. (Not the Ellingboe REQUIEM either.) But I have thought long and hard about it. Just in case :-)

    Are you thinking “Christmas tradition”? Or one-time thing? MESSIAH is a lifetime sport. So you could do the sing-along every year, adding choruses each year and swapping out soloists based on your resources.

    Along with prepared soloists and small ensembles, had you considered preparing a core of singers to insure success? Especially those first couple years when you’re building a reputation. There are a couple different published versions that aid choir members in this. They all have tacky names like “Do-It-Yourself MESSIAH”, but they would help the average church choir member pull off a choral work that was never intended to be sung by a volunteer choir. I agree with Lyn that MESSIAH is a major musical undertaking. And the music can very easily be a distraction from the text if it’s not well presented. But you already know that.

    My favorite self-help is called “MESSIAH from Scratch.” (I said all tacky names :-)

    ” It includes the full vocal score for all 21 choruses with the specified part (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) in a larger, easy-to-read format, the full text of arias and recitatives, instrumental and solo cues, note finding markings, performance notes and rehearsal tips. The enclosed CDs include superb, professionally recorded orchestral and demonstration tracks for every chorus with the specified part increased in volume for easy learning, unique vocal warmups for each part, and slowed-down versions of the difficult sections.” FYI, it is published in England so the music theory information is British terminology. But the CD’s are really well done.

    It’s $20. Not bad for a MESSIAH score, but it’s not really a score–just choir parts, no accompaniment.

    As Karen-Lyn said, encourage folks to bring their own scores. But you should have some on hand, too. Borrowing may be tricky since Christmas is when they are used most. You may have better luck if you produced an Easter MESSIAH? Just a thought.


  28. Didn’t Paul give specific instructions to the church family on how to act in a church service with the understanding that there would be unsaved people there?


  29. Chris,

    I think the “Messiah” Outreach is a good idea. We have a small church, but several years ago we attempted to perform portions of Handel’s Messiah for our “Community Christmas Celebration” that we held each year. It required months of practice, but we pulled it off fairly well. For our small community this was a cultural event (this is a community in which the local Rotary club has a muskrat dinner every year–and it’s highly popular!). We hired Mike Harding’s three daughters along with one of their friends from CIM to play for it. In addition, my wife is an accomplished pianist and accompanied (some with harpsichord on a digital piano), along with our associate pastor’s wife. I dusted off my conductor’s baton and directed the motley choir we assembled.

    I used the event to explain some background to The Messiah and to present the gospel. We believe it was a huge success. I hope to eventually put more of it on YouTube, but for now I have a couple portions there which you may be interested to watch. You can view them here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_nWiWg0zoE and here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVe4w_bcZQs (shameless plugs, I know). These were two parts where we used the children. My wife had a brilliant idea to use the children for “He Shall Feed His Flock” and it was very touching.

    Back to your idea. I think it is an appropriate way to use the Christmas season to reach people with the gospel. Like no other time of the year, people are open to hear gospel truth at Christmas (at least in song). We do well to make the most of that. As one person commented, Handel used Scripture exclusively and you cannot go wrong with that. [Well, sort of..I have heard people sing the Scripture in a very tacky way and even in a way that I believe would dishonor God. It’s just that Handel didn’t do that!]

    I also agree that it should be done in your building, for several reasons: You are primarily using this for outreach and one of the hardest things to do is to get people to come through the doors for the first time. Get them in for this and it’s much easier for them to come in again in the future. Show off your facility, make brochures available, distribute appropriate tracts or booklets. All this is easier from your building. Also, in your own environment, you can say what you want how you want, without fear of accusation from someone who allowed you to use their facility.

    I suggest that you have ladies make Christmas cookies/treats right in your building the day of the event and decorate the building beautifully. People will be stimulated visually and they will smell the cookies that will be served after the sing-a-long.

    As for the scores, I suggest you find a good website online from which you can freely download the specific songs you wish to sing. There’s no way you’ll sing all of them, so just make copies of those you plan to use and then bind them together. It wouldn’t hurt to have a good soloist to perform at least one of the well-known solos or even a string quartet to play one or more of the songs without singing.

    OK, I’ll stop musing now. Here are links to some potentially helpful websites:

  30. Ben,

    In principle, I don’t think the existence of a junior church or Sunday School parallels with inviting unsaved people in to sing, but if you are just wanting to know what our church does, we dismiss children to both S.S. classes and jr. church after we have spent our time singing and playing as a church.

    Dave Stertzbach,

    First, I’m not out to get Christ. I’m stating what I believe. It can’t be bad for him or anyone else if it is scriptural. And I don’t have a problem scripturally with a few meetings for evangelistic purposes, as you communicated. Did you get something out of what I wrote that said anything about that? I was commenting sheerly on inviting unsaved people for the purpose of singing, and having that be an evangelistic purpose. I’m mainly speaking about it with the idea that we regulate our worship by Scripture.

    On your last comment, asking whether Paul addressed how we behaved in church to be about evangelism, I don’t see that anywhere. A passage that comes to mind, and I don’t know if it is what you are referring to, is 1 Timothy 3:15, and that behavior in the church is about the Word (“the truth”) and about the godliness that revolves around Jesus Christ. It’s not for unsaved who might be visiting an assembly. Maybe you know of a verse I might be missing, and I’d be glad to know it. Thanks.

  31. You gotta throw in Tomlin’s “Jesus Messiah.” I’m just sayin. It would be a great fit with Handel’s.

  32. Few thoughts (offered against my better judgment):

    1. Though I have heard it argued against many times, I am still not sure what the problem is with attracting people to hear the gospel. What else will we do? How else will they hear if we don’t attract them? Repelling them won’t work, and ignoring them hasn’t had great results either. It seems to me that people think “attraction=sin.” Attraction simply means getting their attention. If you aren’t baiting and switching (promoting the pizza party and then ambushing them with Jesus), I am not sure there is any biblical injunction at stake here. If you are substituting corporate worship for attractional evangelism, then I think you have a problem. But in reality, any personal evangelism takes place based on some type of attraction, whether personal or topical or conversational.

    To me the issue is what we attract them with and what we give up to do it. If we attract them with the Gospel, the relevance of the gospel to life, then I am not sure what the problem is. If we give up our corporate worship or teaching, then we have a problem.

    But if you don’t attract them, then what will we do to speak to them?

    2. Messiah is a toughie. IMO, it’s tough for a one time sing along, unless it’s like a typical pop/rock/country concert where the main band sings and the audience is singing along with them (so I am told … ask Scott for verification).

    So I think the idea is great. Not sure about the feasibility of it though.

  33. Sounds like an excellent idea to me. I trust it will go well, and God will use it to proclaim a clear gospel message, to bring sinners into union with Christ, and most of all, to glorify God.

  34. Larry: I really liked what you wrote, so I can only imagine that your “better judgment” is even better!

    I think many simply don’t like the word “attract.” They have a lot of baggage associated with it. But I think you are right. We have poorly associated being attractive with being worldly or seeker-sensitive. I am not advocating either.

    My questions earlier, I was pushing to find out the best way for a church to serve its community and then let that service be the platform for relationship and for sharing the Gospel.

    Chris, jokingly said I was being a snob, but realistically to whom does a Messiah sing-along appeal, to whom is it attractive? What demographic are we targeting? Are we doing a poor job of evangelism because we are trying to reach the ALL the unsaved? Maybe we should focus on the local unsaved and figure out what works on that level. What would my church’s next door neighbor come over to my church to do? Sing, blood drive, coat drive, candy give away, etc.?

    In choosing what to sing, we decide what is attractive to ourselves and we assume that others will think it is to.

    Scott: Ironically?!? Dude, I love your work because its founded on God’s Word. I don’t agree with your applications, but I greatly appreciate your pursuit of Christ. Your passion for Christ is challenging to me and I thank God for you.

    Chris: I agree with you, getting them into the building is a good thing. I guess I was thinking about a different venue because it might feel too much like a worship service. Mark Buhr’s comments are genius! I don’t know him but I would like to.

    You said, “We’d like them to know us, be familiar with who we are and where we meet, and come back.”

    “Aye, there’s the rub!” This statement, makes me ask Why? Why would they want to come and get to know you, see where you meet and come back? Because you did a Messiah sing along? No. Because your building is clean and smells nice? No Because your people love Jesus and love them? Yes. The Messiah sing along is a platform upon which relationships are built and the Gospel is spread through those relationships.

    Would it be better to say, “We’d like to use our building to serve the community, get to know them, and let them know that we’d like them to come back.”?

    I am “thinking out loud”, I make plenty of mistakes and won’t be offended by correction.

  35. Chris,

    If you haven’t tried it yet, try it! See what happens. But before you do try it, I suggest taking Lyn Marshall’s advice and making sure your music crew knows what they are doing. The Messiah is not simple music, sung or played.

    As far as the effect it will have? If the Gospel is presented it cannot be a totally worthless effort. You may find that their are better ways to reach your community, and then again you may not. You will have to be the judge of that.

    It wouldn’t work at my church because our church is in the middle of a poor neighborHOOD (it is the HOOD) where most people have very little knowlege of or care for classical music. On the other hand, your church is in a different environment made up of people who may very well be attracted to something like this. GO FOR IT!

  36. I like the general idea. My hesitancy would be the same as have already been expressed. In my area you would just end up with members from other churches in the audience.

    One thing my church has done is a health fair through life-line screenings. This brought in hundreds of people from our community completely unrelated to the church community. Although, this wasn’t a direct avenue of evangelism, we had people from the church mingling with the attendees and gave them fruit and a copy of the gospel of John as they left. It also showed the community that we cared about them as people and not just trying to get them to “convert” so we could put another notch in our belt.

    Another thought, check out http://www.thelightproject.org. Even though this doesn’t connect your people directly to your community, it could generate some talking points and introduce your church to the community so that when someone meets one of your members they could say, “Oh yeah, you are part of the church that sent me that bible….”.

    Whatever you decide to do, we can rest in the fact that God is big enough to use whatever efforts you make to accomplish His purpose.


  37. I need to be quick here. I appreciate the cautions about the difficulty in pulling it off. I hear you! We’ll need to rehearse it throughout the year so that we can at least “keep it on the road.”

    Regarding those who might be interested, we do reach various groups in our community, by God’s grace. We have a foot in the door with a number of AA attendees attending, etc. But we need to be careful that in our zeal to minister to the overtly needy, we don’t eschew ministering to the educated or upper class or religious. Nicodemus needed Christ as surely as the Samaritan woman. We shouldn’t reach only the cultured, but we shouldn’t apologize for trying to reach them along with others, either.

    Again, thanks for the insights. Very profitable.

  38. Larry,

    How will they hear without attraction? Jesus doesn’t make attraction an issue. We go and cast seed. Whether people want it or not depends on the condition of their hearts—some stony, some thorny, some hard, some good soil. They won’t hear, not because we haven’t perfected the art of attraction, but because of the condition of their hearts. Nowhere that I know of does Scripture command us to attract unbelievers. We go and preach to them, mainly because they aren’t attracted. We’ve got to go to them, because they won’t come to us. We go into the highways and hedges to compel them, but it isn’t to compel them to come to church, but into the kingdom. What compels them? It isn’t natural attraction. It is supernatural power from the gospel.

    Let’s just say that I go out into my community and I say that it’s about the Jesus of the Bible—He’s Lord, He’s God, He’s Savior—and that’s what our church is about. I find out that people aren’t interested in that, in Him, even though Jesus is greater than anything. Paul said everything else was “dung” (Philip 3). I might be able to attract an unbeliever with a lesser thing, but if what I am offering is all about Jesus, why would I want to do that? If they don’t want Jesus, do we work up to Him by starting with things that the unbeliever wants that are less than Jesus? This seems to be carnal weaponry that won’t glorify God. In the long run, it will fall too, even if it seems to be working in the short term.

    I appreciate the interaction, Larry. I recognize you didn’t direct it toward me, but I noticed, I think, that I was the only one saying these things. Perhaps I’ll write about this at my blog, but I wasn’t intending to take the thread.

  39. Oh, TERRIFIC.

    I finally find a good church that’s going to have a Messiah Sing… and it’s 983275324 miles away.

  40. We’ll not come to a consensus on this, obviously. But I fail to see how inviting people to come recite Scripture in song, then explaining what it means is “a lesser thing.” I agree with you, Kent, that we present the Jesus of the Bible—that “that’s what our church is about.” I just don’t see how using something like the Messiah falls short of that.

  41. Dear Dan,


  42. I like Handel’s Messiah. I like hearing Handel’s Messiah. I like singing Handel’s Messiah. I like our church singing Handel’s Messiah. I like other churches singing Handel’s Messiah.

    I also like reciting Scripture to unbelievers whom I invite to come to hear the recitation of Scripture.

    I thought I would leave with something positive and deal with the negatives in a longer blogpost. Thanks Chris!

  43. Not too many have chimed in on the marketing side of your initial series of questions. Can I suggest the following:

    1. Don’t overlook “grass roots” efforts. And, yes, by grass roots, I mean “free”. The internet could be an exceptional tool for you guys. If there are community websites – Chamber of Commerce, Community Arts, Community Colleges, Historical Societies, etc. – that have an “events” page, make sure your event is listed. If you have a database of e-mail addresses, start sending out invites/reminders. Also, give people a place to go on the web to get details – Facebook page, webpage, your church’s website – somewhere.

    2. Get to know leaders of community groups. You might be surprised at their willingness to give you some time at their meetings to “preview” the event.

    3. If you plan to post advertisements on community bulletin boards, don’t forget to hit libraries and hospitals especially. Trust me on that one.

    4. If you have a local paper, figure out a way to get an article written sometime during the fall. Most of the local “free” papers are looking for good community content at all times. Articles are waaaaaaaaay better than an ad. It’s also surprising how many people read the community paper cover-to-cover.

    5. This one could be a bit of a stretch, but libraries are often looking for events of their own to offer in the evenings to adults. Your take on the life and times of Handel and the historic importance of The Messiah could potentially fit the bill – especially as Christmas is fast approaching.

    6. Lastly, the greatest of “grass roots” efforts: word of mouth.

    All pretty practical stuff. It’s very important to have your ducks in a row. I would recommend that you set a strategy, establish a plan, and get cracking! December will be here before you know it.

  44. Excellent, Chris. What a wealth of information. Thank you!

  45. Hey Chris,

    You could always start doing “Servant Evangelism” (http://www.servantevangelism.com/main.cfm). On their Q&A page you can find the following:
    Q. What other creative ways have you found to connect with people other than cards?

    A. We have come up with some unusual ways of connecting with people in the midst of their world. We have printed up “Vineyard matches” with our church name on the outside of the matchbook and our map, phone number and service times on the inside. We give boxes of matches to convenience stores, bars, restaurants and gas station managers to distribute freely to their smoking customers.

    Also through a local janitorial supply company, we have had our name and logo printed on urinal screens for men’s restrooms. We have received hundreds of comments from people who were surprised to find the Vineyard Community Church in, of all places, the men’s urinal!

    You can view a picture of the urinal screen here: http://www.servantevangelism.com/questions/ (scroll about 4/5 down on the page).

    Hey, I’m just trying to help you reach another segment of society. Maybe you could actually advertise the Messiah Sing on the urinal screens.

    Now we’re getting practical! Ha!

  46. http://www.dasmarkusexperiment.com/english/team-version.html

    UK, but you may find this link of passing interest.

  47. Urinal evangelism? I’m speechless.

  48. urinals??!!! eeeewwwwwww….dont you dare!

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