TITLE: Organic Outreach for Churches: Infusing Evangelistic Passion into Your Congregation
AUTHOR: Kevin G. Harney
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011, (196 pages).
"The only way outreach will become a natural part of a congregation's life is when every leader and each ministry are gripped by a commitment to fulfill the Great Commission." (13)
Written in four parts, Harney aims to infuse such evangelistic fervour beginning with the HEART of the congregation. He then progresses to the MIND of the congregation by adopting 7 'simple mind shifts' and 6 'levels of influence' to mobilize the whole church. Part Three is about the doing aspect through the HANDS of the congregation where one can utilize present inherent strengths as well as innovative approaches. Part Four provides tips and ideas about MOUTH that speaks for Christ through vibrant testimonies. To avoid being accused of mere theory only, Harney conscientiously field-tests his ideas with his local church, and 11 other ministry settings, with personal accountability groups. Moreover, this book was not written first. It comes 5 years later after numerous conference discussions and encouragement from friends and acquaintances.
All organic outreach needs to begin with a real love for God and for people, through the heart. Using the heartbeat metaphor, Harney clears the table by saying that people who exhibit a flatline, a weak pulse, or a rapid heartbeat, needs life support. What is needed is a healthy heartiness.
Harney's treatment of the different domains is rather wide. He adopts a holistic approach to deal with heart, mind, hands, and mouth, and personifies the Church through these parts. Each chapter ends with four pointers:
- Discussion questions to probe deeper
- Action item to check one's inner conditions
- Action item to grow
- Prayer Direction for divine assistance.
Anyone desiring to reach the world needs to be prepared to do it sacrificially too. Harney helps readers to ask three critical questions to do that. The Church needs to count the costs. We can only learn to love other people, when we learn to love the Church as well.
In the MIND, Harney reminds us that negative attitudes can damage any evangelistic passion. Positive and healthy perspectives are needed. Through the mindshifts, Harney helpfully teaches us 7 ways to move from negative to positive. I like the way Harney urges, that evangelistic fervour ought to 'permeate' the whole Church, not just committees or certain groups. All can do it. He provides 6 ways how to influence it.
In the HANDs, Harney brings out a need for change, turning Church inreach programs that work, to become outreach programs that work as well. In the MOUTH, the shortest of all parts, Harney then zooms in on a highly essential aspect of outreach: Speak the gospel out so that others can hear.
The cover of the book is a great way to talk about evangelistic fervour. The saltshaker image reminds me of a classic book called 'Out of a Saltshaker,' written by Rebecca Manley Pippert. Pippert's book talks about personal evangelism as a way of life. Harney's book here extends this idea to incorporate evangelism as the whole church's way of life. The way he uses the temperature gauge is highly creative. His 1-degree raising the temperature for evangelistic fervour itself, is worth the price of the book. He follows up with a 2-degree vectoring method that aims to turn what we do well within the church, and to apply them outside the church, turning away from us toward the community around us.
Thankfully, other than having an evangelistic fervour and the need to let our outreach be meaningful both for the Church as well as our communities, the gospel still needs to be spoken out clearly. Harney does not make the mistake of focusing so much on the works that the words are ignored. He dedicates one whole chapter with a short and easy to remember gospel sharing message.
This book is heavy on practical ways to move the Church toward an outreach mindset. It is particularly strong in understanding how Churches are stuck with old paradigms. That is why Harney meticulously deals with the need for a mindset change. Having done that, he offers very creative and helpful ways in which church members are able to say: "Hey! I can do that too!"
Let not only our money or our committees do the talking. Let the whole church do the walking, the talking, and the praying. This book is poised to become the modern version of Pippert's bestselling books for evangelism.
Ratings: 4.75 stars of 5.
This book is provided to me free by Zondervan and NetGalley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions given above are made freely.