A basic principle for doing evangelism is that people need to know how much you care before they’ll care how much you know. That’s why missionaries often provide food or medical care along with making converts.
Here at home, churches may provide clothing or school supplies to meet the practical needs of the people in their community. The theory is that when you must demonstrate concern for people by meeting their basic needs before they will be open to hearing your message.
So how do you reach people who don’t need anything?
The church I serve is located in a fast-growing suburb where the median age is 31, the median annual income is over $75,000, and 85 percent of the population has a college education. People here don’t need clean water, clothing, food, or medical care—they have all that.
Yet people are people no matter where they live, and there are deep human needs in every community. Here are some latent needs that exist in my community, and probably in yours as well.
1. Financial Counsel
The first time we offered Financial Peace University, about 70 people enrolled. Together, they reported having just under $2 million in consumer debt. Families are being crushed by their inability to manage personal finances. That’s a point at which the church can help.
Love the people in your community by helping them learn to budget, get out of debt, and be generous. You’d be surprised how many successful and prosperous people don’t know how to manage their own money.
2. Marriage Enrichment
Nobody wears a sign that reads “Headed for Splitsville,” but many marriages are struggling. Couples nearly always want to resolve their issues, but they don’t know how. Even worse, they wait too long to seek help.
Find a way to build strong marriages in your community and people will beat a path to your door. This is a problem the church can help with. Love your community by teaching married people how to love and respect one another.
3. Addiction Recovery
There are no drug dealers hanging on the street corners in my town, nor in many suburbs. Yet many people are (or have family members who are) addicted to alcohol, drugs, or pornography. Most will not ask for help but are grateful to find it.
Love the people in your community by helping them get clean. Begin a Celebrate Recovery group, and you may be surprised who shows up.
The irony of life in a prosperous community is that it lacks significance. People who seem to have everything often feel that their lives are meaningless. At a time when many churches struggle to make converts, you can still gain an audience for the good news by offering people two things: a sense of belonging, and a sense of purpose.
Love the people in your community by showing them how to serve. Enlist them in drilling wells in Africa, providing food in the inner city, or rebuilding homes after a hurricane. You will connect with a need they are not fully aware of.
People are people wherever you go. Everyone has problems, though some are less obvious. When you invite people to bring their problems to you, they might just do it. Find a way to solve them, and the world will beat a path to your door.