One of the ways our church evangelizes is by attending summer 4-H fairs.
Summer 4-H fairs (i.e. elephant ears and Ferris wheels) are people magnets for rural communities. Our church is among the cornfields. When that many people get together in one place, it becomes a priority for our ministry.
We rent booth space, print out tracts, schedule workers, and engage. This is called evangelism.
If you were to look at one of our tables you would see this: tracts that speak about the grace of God and salvation free and clear, not by your works.
When you look up behind the table you will see the strangest thing: people who are not doing ministry to earn their way to heaven or impress God.
Grace teaches that we have salvation freely by trusting Christ’s finished work by the cross. The people behind the table work graciously out of the purpose of their heart to help you understand the grace of Christ.
Souls saved and coming to a knowledge of the truth is our mission (1 Tim 2:4).
Our table is covered with thought provoking titles including “Reasons You Should Not Tithe”, Jesus Wasn’t Talking to You, and “Stop Blaming the Holy Ghost”, which grab attention of the cultural Christian in rural America.
It is a pleasure to explain that Jesus was not talking to you in the red letters where he ministered the kingdom and law to Israel. He speaks to us today through the apostle of grace. It is more blessed to give as you purpose in your heart instead of subjecting yourself to a legal requirement that denies the grace of Christ.
With their interest piqued, they grab our other most popular tracts, “The Gospel: Plain and Simple” and “Completely Saved by Grace”, to find out more about this grace gospel which sounds unfamiliar to them.
“Why would a church booth not be interested in my attendance, baptism, good behavior, or tithing?”
Rarely do people understand something the first time they hear. This means evangelism requires patience, faithfulness, and plenty of heart.
This is why it is good to do the work with others who have the same goal.
It is what Paul called a work of faith, labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess 1:3).
Do we see people falling at the booth in repentance and weeping? No. Have never seen it, but tracts are intended to be taken home where the reader can ponder the contents in the privacy of their own conscience. We do not always see the good results of our work now.
There is a certain kind of person who would rather not talk to you no matter how much you smile. They stand at a distance eyeing the tracts, and when you are busy talking to someone else, they pounce and grab a handful. This is another good reason to use tracts: tracts speak to people who do not want to talk to you. Sometimes the less you say, the better. Praise God for the written word!
One elderly woman who had been baptized when she was a baby stopped by the booth distraught about what she needed to do to get right with God after living so many years with sin.
“Do I need to get baptized again?” (Yes, there are still people who are taught the devilish doctrine that water baptism cleanses you from sin today.)
She came to the right place! The brother at the booth explained the gospel of grace that Christ did all the work and there is nothing left for us to do but to trust His work as finished.
After some conversation, she left with a right understanding of salvation, not of her works (nor baptism), and a noticeable peace of mind. Since salvation is through faith we cannot be certain what is in people’s hearts, but before she left, she said, “Thank you for explaining God’s grace.” God knows if there is one more saint in the body. We’ll find out in the air (1 Th 4:17).
Sometimes the rewards come sooner. One of the more rewarding moments is when someone returns to the booth thanking us for the literature we gave them and telling us how it changed their understanding.
“Everyone needs to read this!”, said the man holding one of the books we gave him.
We agree. That is why we go to the fairs every year. People need to read the information; and how will they read if there is not someone to give them something to read; and how shall that someone give it if there is not a table supplied with resources at events where people walk right by!
(Not all of us can preach, but most of us can stand behind a table and offer reading material.)
After the numbers were tallied, we gave away more resources and had more conversations this year than any summer before. It was a success!
Many thanks to the generosity of saints giving their time to help and their money to provide free resources.
It was a great summer! We will do it again. As long as the Lord continues his ministry of grace to a present evil world, we will continue to make known his grace in the marketplace.
Though our summer schedule is over, it is never too early for you to start planning the first grace ministry booth at your local fair or fall festival. Get in the marketplace!
“Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” – 1 Corinthians 4:1-2