The Faster Pastor  Outreach

Don't Just Sit There! Do Something!

It's been said that there is no difference between the pessimist that says, "Why bother? It won't work anyway," and the optimist that says, "Why bother? It will all work out okay in the end." The truth is, that God will work out everything in the end. But he still calls us to be faithful right now. As Christians, we have the peace and comfort of the optimist, but the urgency of the pessimist. We know that all depends on God. He alone turns hearts to faith in him. He just uses us at the instruments that proclaim his grace. But we also know that every day countless souls are dying without saving faith in Jesus. So we can't just sit around doing nothing, hoping the lost stumble upon us. We can't be satisfied being the lighthouse calling people in to safe harbor. We must be the search and rescue team that takes the light to the lost. 

And we know that it will work! God promises that his Word will not return to him empty. It will achieve the purpose that he intends it to have. Yes, some will be hardened. But others will receive the message with joy. But either way, we've been called to action, not inaction. He tells us to go, to make, to baptize, and to teach. 

But I know, dear pastor, that you have so little time to do what is so important. The urgent consumes your week. How do you make time for the important? I'm so glad you asked. The answer: with tools and help from the Faster Pastor, of course...

The Tools

The first tool I use is a pay-for service. I know, I know, I told you I'm a cheapskate, and I am. But this one is reasonable and it finds people that I wouldn't otherwise be in contact with. And in our small towns in Alaska, I can get away with paying very little.

New Mover Church Postcards

This company helped me design a postcard that they automatically send out every month to every home that hooks up to electric or gas. That way it's supposedly new moves. (Yes, often they are moving locally, but still, what better time to let them know about us than when they're in a time of transition.) In our small community (our two closest zip codes) that comes to about 30 to 50 homes each month. And it costs about $35 to $40. But we get a contact in their home and we get the list of names they send in labels and in an email so we can follow up. And we do just that...

The Fishing is Best Where The Fewest Will Go

Of course, just sending a postcard isn't enough to set us apart. It's better than nothing. But I want more than just "better than nothing." We can do better. I want a personal interaction with one of our members and our new neighbors. Now that can't always be done with the size of our church and the availability of our members, but here's what we try to do...

Google Maps

Once I get the names from our New Mover Church Postcards rep (in an .xls [Microsoft Excel] format) I'll upload it to Google Drive as a Google Spreadsheet. Then I go to Google's Maps Engine and create a new map.  

Free DVD (or anything)

Google Adwords

Church Events

Free Beer!

Yes, I actually did offer this at one church where I served. I held a Bible Class in a bar on Wednesday nights for six weeks on and seven weeks off. (I called it "Six-Pack Sessons.") I then told my members that if they brought someone new to the Bible Study who had never been there before, that I would buy them their first beer as we met to discuss God's Word. I was surprised to see how many people came at a friend's invitation, if, for no other reason than to see if the pastor really would buy them a beer. It was great! I actually took a few people through our membership class who came to our Bible Study because someone invited them for a free beer! :) 

The Goal

Whatever you do for your outreach program, my plea is that you do something. Don't just wait for them to come to you. Go seek them out, just as your Savior has done for you. Our goal is to expose as many people as we can to the message. What they do with it from there is up to them and the Holy Spirit. So optimist or pessimist makes no difference. Just go! Make! Baptize! Teach!

And if you need a word of encouragement or have an idea to share, please do contact me! I'd love to hear from you!

Your servant in Christ,
Rob Guenther, The Faster Pastor 

BONUS: How to Follow-Up with Prospects Using Free Google Programs

Step #1: If you don't already have one, go to Google and get a Free account.

Step #2:  Signed in to your Google account, go to Google Docs and create or import a Prospect Database. (Click here to open a template of what I use, select "File" then "Create a copy..." Rename the document or spreadsheet what you will. Or, if you already have an Excel spreadsheet, you can upload it with the "Upload" button on the Google Docs toolbar. Share the document with everyone on your evangelism team, but keep it private. Otherwise, the data will be available to the public and someone might find all of their contact information with a simple search. Assign one person to keep the data updated regularly. This can be their only job if you want. One small task isn't overwhelming and makes it easy to manage. Also note that this job can be done at home or anywhere there's internet access, signing in to Google Docs.

Hint: If you currently use MS Access to manage your prospects, you can export the database to Excel, then upload the file. (Email me if you need help converting your Access file for upload.)

Step #3: If you don't already have one, create a free Gmail (Google Mail) account. (Using Gmail for your notifications is helpful because you can set up automatic filters. cf. Step #3... And if you don't like Gmail, no problem! You can have every email sent there automatically sent to your existing email address. cf. below for directions...) Have notifications sent to your email every time the database is updated. Click "Share" in upper right hand side of your document and then "Set the notification rules." I check "Any changes are made" and "Email right away" so everything is caught and I can act quickly. In a larger church you may want to specify different targets or ministries (For example, you could have the notifications alert you when the "Email Address" column is updated so your email volunteer can send a thank you, then set up another alert for the "Address" column for those who will send a handwritten note and/or a personal visit. This would work with your filters in step 3).

  If you signed up for a Gmail account, but don't want Gmail to be your regular email program, here's how to set up Gmail to automatically forward everything to your existing email address: First, go to "Settings" in Gmail (top right-hand side of the screen), then hit the "Forwarding and POP/IMAP" tab. Under "Forwarding" check the 
"forward to" button and enter your email address. Hit "Save Changes" at the bottom and viola, you never have to look at Gmail again if you don't want to. But you can have filters set up to forward data to your volunteers automatically, so it doesn't depend on you doing it to get done. (cf. Step #4...)

Step #4: Set up your filters. Setting up filters automates the system so prospects don't fall through the cracks because no one was notified that new data has been entered. To set up a filter go to "settings" at the very top right-hand side of your gmail account, then select "filters" from the tabs and "create a new filter" at the bottom. Set the search to find, "subject:("[Name of Spreadsheet]" was edited recently)" and then set the action to "Forward to: [email address of your volunteer]." Set up a new filter for each member of the Evangelism Team that will be involved in some form of follow up. Every time you get a notification of an update that your first volunteer has made in the Spreadsheet, every volunteer gets an email notification. 

Note: If your notification isn't set for "Any changes are made" you would obviously have multiple notifications. e.g. both "Email" and "Address" columns are filled in, you'd get two notifications for that entry. But it's  very easy for individual users to set up their own notifications. Have them log in to the database, click "Share," then "Notifications" and specify which columns should be edited, e.g. email, address, etc. Then click "Send me an email whenever a change is made." and "OK." They should receive an email whenever that particular column is edited. So if they're just in charge of sending an email that says, "Thanks for visiting!" they won't get an email when the visitor gave his physical address only. Your volunteer who calls on the phone won't get the notification when they just leave their email address, etc. It might make the task seem less overwhelming to each individual volunteer.

Step #5: Create a Google Map. This is just like the one on the wall with all the pushpins, but can be accessed anywhere and can hold a lot more information. Check out this short video for a tutorial on setting it up...

Step #6: Create "Zones" with the "draw shapes" tool in Google Maps. (Once you've created a map and are signed in and editing it, there's a icon of a line graph to draw lines and shapes. cf. the image on the right) You can edit the shapes by grabbing and dragging the points to wherever you want to change them. Label the "zones" and assign them to individual volunteers to deliver your tracts and brochures, sermons on CD, cookies, or just to visit and thank for coming. (Click here to download a sample letter I've sent to volunteers.)

Step #7: Get the maintenance of the system in motion. Find a volunteer to 1) enter the data from the "Friendship Register" into the spreadsheet. Once the database is edited, the following should be notified instantly (cf. Step #4): 2) someone to call, 3) someone to email, 4) someone to write a handwritten letter or note, 5) someone to copy and paste the information into the map, (copy the address, and paste it into the search bar ofGoogle Maps. When the address is found, click "Save to My Maps" (cf. the image on the left.) Edit the pushpin, changing the color, copying and pasting any other pertinent 
information, like name, phone number, email address, and any notes you may have on the prospect. It will automatically be added to the bottom of the list, so you'll have them in chronological order of their visit). That same person can then  then notify the person in whose zone this prospect lives. This can be done from the Google Map. When you're done editing the pushpins and the map. Click "Done" (by "Edit") then click back on the pushpin. There will now be an option to "Send" (cf. the picture on the right). Just enter the email address of the zone rep and hit "Send>>." The one making the visit will get an email with a link to the new pushpin on the map. And finally, 6-20?) your zone representatives/visitors who will actually make the trip to their house.

If everyone takes a small part to play, many hands make light work. 
Within a few days of that initial contact, your visitor can recieve many "touches" from your members, feel welcomed and encouraged to visit again. If you use a few automated tools to help keep the gears well-greased, everything can run smoothly and efficiently. Using this technology will not remove personal contact. In fact, far from it, it will help to keep the personal contacts done in a timely way. Blessings on your efforts to reach out with the Good News to those who need to hear it! 

In Him,
Rob Guenther

PS. For questions, comments, or help, feel free to email me at

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