This article, like that in the February magazine, has been compiled from the writer’s answers to questions posed by the editor. It is hoped that the material will give a different insight into such outreach activities and encourage others to see what can be done in reaching the lost with the message of the gospel.
Much of the gospel literature that we often see can be out-of-date, dog-eared, of little relevance, and, sadly, has obviously been in its place a long time. It suggests a lack of care, love, and seriousness for those who are outside of Christ and are one step away from a lost eternity. Also, the only people who would ever see this material are those who went to church where it was displayed. What about the thousands who don’t go? How will they know?
After retiring and moving into fellowship in Hemsworth, I shared with the elders a burden I had for some form of market outreach. I had noticed when going around the local market that there was nothing for the Lord, and, as far as the assembly knew, there never had been.
I approached the management of the market with trepidation, but in faith, and explained that we were looking for a market stall so that we could give away free Christian literature to anyone who wanted it, and that we would be doing it on a non-denominational basis.
Points to consider:
From the point of view of fellow believers:
You don’t start something unless it is an exercise of the Lord. We must all understand that what we do we will be accountable for!
We need to be effective without overstretching ourselves because of other commitments, our age (most of us are retired and over sixty), or abilities. Whilst not all may be evangelists some can provide much needed prayerful support.
This does not mean just financially but practically. Would there be sufficient helpers to stand with me.
It is important to carry fellow believers with you so that all are happy with the choice of literature. It also has to cover all age ranges, and the range of possible issues that you might have to handle. Once the material is agreed, it is important that at least one person is appraised of all that is on display so if a question were asked they could give an answer.
Be prepared for, and discuss amongst those who may be able to assist in the work, the question that you will not be able to answer. In every case, it is important to be able to direct any enquirer to the word of God.
The display is very important because it is the first impression that the passer-by gets of your stall. Take time over what you do – we actually did a ‘dry run’ in the hall. You might want to consider what posters you might use as part of your overall display
Whilst it may be desirable to have details of the church and its times of meeting, it may be helpful to consider setting up a web page which the enquirer can visit. In this way they do not have to ‘come to church’ but can find more about the gospel through the site.
With all enquirers, it is important not to give personal phone numbers or addresses out as contact points for further enquiries.
It can be helpful to inspect the site to see whether it may supply an answer to these and other issues. However, there are storage issues from day-today when the stall is not run. It is important to ensure that the literature does not become soiled, creased, or corrugated by poor storage.
As part of the storage, it might be useful for someone to catalogue materials and keep track of them for restocking.
Most of us do not possess twenty years of practical experience in evangelism through literature, or running children’s work. However, we can all observe and, by experience, learn what works and what does not. Not all material is relevant to evangelism or outreach. The quantity does not matter, it is the quality!
Some that we have found useful include:
A2 Posters include:
I am also working on ‘The broad and narrow way’ in order to remove the ‘all seeing eye’ to avoid giving the impression that the gospel has something to do with Freemasonry.
Very often we meet people who want to tell us their opinion but who do not want to listen to others! However, it is important to expect certain issues:
Keeping abreast of things that are topical can also enable you to anticipate some of the questions that might be raised.
I believe the benefits are significant. Romans chapter 10 verse 14 asks, ‘how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?’ The market stall provides a living ‘wayside pulpit’ where ‘the whosever’ can come, converse, and carry away literature. What is more powerful than the written word of God in reaching sinners?
It is essential to keep uppermost in our thoughts that such activity glorifies the Lord, lifting Him up as the only Saviour. Equally, the local church will be blessed in doing what the Lord commanded, ‘Go ye into all the world’, the great commission, Mark 16. 15. Following on from that, this work stimulates prayer. This is true in a personal sense, but also in the church. It can focus our prayer meetings because we have specific contacts to pray for, as well as the general work of the stall.
The market stall, and gospel work in general, brings a sense of wonder to each heart. It is humbling to think that the Lord would ‘use me, even me’, as the hymn writer says!
It might be obvious but it is worth repeating. Always, but always, pray before you set up! You must never take anything for granted.
Here are some of the things we found useful to remember:
Finally, one of the things you may find is that the market stall brings along believers who are not yet baptized, or who do not attend a church on a regular basis. It may be helpful to have material that will encourage a new believer, or untaught believer, to progress in their spiritual life, and to find a place where they can feed upon ‘the sincere milk of the word’, 1 Pet. 2. 2.