EVANGELISM: Charlene and I visited a husband and wife team of a flourishing Methodist congregation. They were doing some very good things.  One idea they were working on was to purchase a list of new residents and train lay evangelists to go welcome them in the name of the church.

What a creative idea! We thought, but didn’t say, why not make it even more dynamic. Invite other congregations in the area to join in this outreach. Wouldn’t a joint effort make a deeper impact?  The purpose of the visit would be to invite them to Christ’s church, not just “our church.” They could decide which congregation to visit. Maybe they would want to visit a few or all of them. If these new residents could see that Christians were united in caring for them, wouldn’t that be impressive? Wouldn’t the Spirit bless such an outreach effort?

WORSHIP  Years ago, in their order of worship, Presbyterians wisely replaced the pastoral prayer with “prayers of the people,” which is how the New Testament church prayed. Imagine this scene in the book of Acts. Peter is in prison. James or John stands and says solemnly, “Brethren, join me in a word of prayer for Peter, ” then prays on behalf of all the believers. Where do we find this kind of praying in the New Testament? Would angels have affected Peter’s miraculous prison break if only professionals did the praying?

One courageous pastor, recognizing the power of believers praying in concert, broke with tradition. In place of the pastoral prayer, he urged us to join up with four or five others, share our concerns and pray with each other right there and then. It was kind of a shock, but I believe most of us found it to be a heart-warming experience.

Another pastor concluded the worship by calling the congregation to get into small groups and discuss ways the church could serve one another more effectively.

What are the creative ideas your congregation has tried for either evangelism or worship to help your church become more horizontal.  Leave us a comment.