David Macfarlane recalls with passion how a Bible study group at
the church he pastored in Waterloo, ON, made a difference in the
life of its community.
"The group realized it had become inward-looking-really all
about themselves, their own fellowship, their own Bible study,"
says Macfarlane, who is the director of national initiatives for
the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). "They decided to
do something to be externally focused."
One of the group's members, a real estate agent, suggested they
put together welcome baskets filled with maps, fresh baking,
candles, emergency contact information and other small, practical
items. The group then delivered the baskets to people who moved
into the area.
One Saturday morning, two men from the group walked up to a
house belonging to a family who had just moved to the
neighbourhood. They could hear young children crying and screaming
"The door was opened by a young father who had a loaded diaper
in his hand, he was frazzled, and he took the basket," Macfarlane
recalls. "He had never been to church and he told them, 'It's
really weird that you came by today, because my wife and I just
yesterday at breakfast were talking about going to some church so
that our kids will have a religious background.'"
The young man and his family showed up to church the next day.
Soon after, they committed their lives to Christ.
"There are tons of stories like this across Canada," Macfarlane
says. "There are all sorts of wonderful people doing amazing
Manitoba pastors will be able to hear similar stories of
evangelism when the BGEA hosts five seminars in the area from Sept.
28 to Oct. 28.
Titled REconneXion: Igniting Your Community Influence, the
seminars aim to inspire and encourage pastors, as well as equip
them with ideas they can put into practice to present the gospel to
their community in ways they hadn't though of before.
Macfarlane, who has spent more than two decades in ministry,
will give two talks at each seminar. Dave Overholt, founding pastor
of Hamilton, ON's Church on the Rock, will also give two talks.
Macfarlane and Overholt will talk about coming up with new ideas
for ministry; designing strategies and systems for impacting a
community; presenting the gospel in today's Canadian context; and
discovering ways to wire your congregation with "evangelistic
"One excellent way to reach a community is to realize everyone
has the same basic needs," Macfarlane says. "Spiritual needs,
educational needs, social needs, work-related needs and so on and
One thing churches can do is make a list of the things they can
do to address the needs of the people in their community, whether
it's offer English classes for newcomers to Canada, teach a course
on basic computers skills or offer free babysitting once a month
for single mothers in the area.
"The truth is, it's not rocket science," Macfarlane says. "[The
seminars are] about encouraging local pastors, giving them tools
and ideas that they can use in their own communities. We're not
selling a program. We're sharing ideas."
If churches are seen as a positive force in their communities,
it opens the door to evangelism.
"Ultimately, we have to be talking to [people] about Christ, and
about Him being the way and the truth and the life," Macfarlane
"One of the biggest challenges Christians face is that we don't
have a good reputation in our own communities," he adds. "We need
to be seen as the hands and feet of Jesus in our community and earn
the right to be heard."
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association of Canada