Operation Inasmuch is opportunity to evangelizeby C. Walter Overman
Sharing the gospel in modern America is not as acceptable to the unchurched population as it was just two generations ago. Since that time, the broader culture has turned against the church and embraced secularism.
David Crocker, executive-director and founder of Operation Inasmuch, said the culture shift of the last half century has taken a toll on the church’s efforts to impact lostness.
“The openness to hear the gospel is less than ever,” he said. “And the willingness to share the gospel is less than ever because we are afraid of being rejected.”
During a break out session at the recent NC Baptist Missions Conference in Winston-Salem, Crocker explained how Operation Inasmuch is an effective evangelistic tool that helps break down barriers between the culture and the church.
Operation Inasmuch is a one-day missions effort that encourages churches to minister to those in need in their communities through hands-on, practical efforts such as construction projects, landscaping, painting, block parties and prayer walking.
The compassion-based ministry provides services to the community with no strings attached. Connecting with the community in this way builds bridges between the church and a skeptical culture, and provides Christians a platform from which they can share the love of Christ through word and deed.
“When you serve people first you show them that you care and you earn the right to share with them,” Crocker said.
Crocker pointed out that the model for Operation Inasmuch is based upon the holistic ministry of Jesus, who routinely combined good news with good deeds. But he added that some churches have not taken full advantage of the opportunity to share the gospel while serving their neighbors in practical ways.
“There are a lot of churches that are doing Operation Inasmuch and they may not be realizing the full evangelistic potential of that one day event,” Crocker said.
During the break out session Crocker shared a few practical suggestions that will help churches make Operation Inasmuch as evangelistic as possible.
One approach is to make sure team leaders consistently reinforce to volunteers the motivation behind Operation Inasmuch. Leaders can also help prepare volunteers to share their testimonies while they serve in the community.
Another way churches can emphasize evangelism is to hand out printed materials such as postcards and Bibles. The postcards are an easy way to tell people why the volunteers are serving as the hands and feet of Jesus. Bibles are good resources to give to home owners who receive help with home repair projects.
Crocker’s final suggestion calls for leaders to identify evangelistically gifted volunteers and intentionally move them to multiple projects throughout the community during the day.
He believes when churches use these additional methods they will make a big difference in their communities. “When we put good news and good deeds together it creates good will in the community,” Crocker said. “Most of our communities could use some of that.”
North Carolina Baptists will have the opportunity to participate in Operation Inasmuch April 28 and May 5.
To learn more about national Operation Inasmuch, visit www.operationinasmuch.org.