I'm the lead pastor at New Life Evangelical Free Church in Watertown, South Dakota. Watertown isn't a big town, but it's funny because it's also the fifth biggest city in South Dakota (approx. 22,000 people). South Dakota altogether has about 800,000 people. The people there are wonderful. It's a strong, agricultural community. A lot of farming is taking place around Watertown.
Recently, we've developed what's called a discipleship pathway. It's an intentional process of asking, "How do we as a church help people to become more like Christ?" rather than just doing a bunch of stuff. We want to equip people to be disciplemakers and we're also working to become more evangelistic, loving our community. Those are two areas that we want to keep growing in. We don't want to just have people attend on Sunday; we want people to become disciplemakers. We don't want people just to be reliant on me to preach the gospel; we want them to be sharing the gospel.
To grow in this, we've introduced something called B.L.E.S.S. It's a tool for people to reach out to their neighbors. It's simple: Begin with prayer. Listen. Eat. Serve. Share your story.
To grow in this, we've introduced something called B.L.E.S.S. It's a tool for people to reach out to their neighbors. It's simple: Begin with prayer. Listen. Eat. Serve. Share your story. You can write down the names of friends and neighbors and start connecting with them. We have seen people begin to do that more and more. Witnessing to someone is scary. And we're so busy. But the bless tool has been pretty cool for us. We don't have to do big programs for evangelism. God has put people in your life. Have a meal with them. Pray for them.
We also have an evangelism class. We call it The Bridge. And people were able to bring some of the people on their list. It was well attended for us as a church, and there were a lot of good spiritual conversations. So I think we can see some of the initial fruit from encouraging people to live out their faith in everyday life.
That's what I appreciate about the EFCA: We focus on the gospel; we focus on Jesus Christ; we focus on discipleship; we focus on evangelism. We stay focused on the main things the church should be focused on and talk about those things and encourage those things.
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