Prayer meeting.  Sermon preparation.  Session meeting.  Teaching classes.  Committee meeting.  Counseling appointment.  Presbytery meeting.  Email correspondence.  Academy meeting. Reading.  Board meeting.  Blog posting.  Another meeting.

You may think that is a list of pastoral complaints.  No, I rather enjoy my life as a pastor, for I am  either preparing to be with God’s people or I am just being with them.  What could be better than that?  So is the list an attempt to prove how busy I am?  No, for whenever someone comments on busyness I always say, “Everyone’s busy.”  The men and women in my congregation have overflowing schedule cups as well.

Rather, the list is just to show that in taking care of the needs of the sheep that have been found, I find that I have lost a lot of time being with lost sheep.

When I was younger, it was more simple.  I had more time.  Whether it was door-to-door work, playing basketball down at the gym, teaching math at a local college, or a dozen other ways, I was regularly and even naturally around the lost.  But not so much anymore.  In taking inventory recently, I realized how insulated I have become through responsibilities. Preaching through the incredible gospel promises of Isaiah, coupled with the joy of being friends with some new Christians in our congregation, have motivated me to think again of how I could find make more time to be with those outside of the church.

As I prayed, the Lord laid it on my heart to find a way to get to know the friends of people in the congregation. I also wanted it to be an honest approach – no trickery or peddling of the gospel.  So I came up with what worked out for me to be a 1-3-5 plan.  I would ask members of the church to invite a friend to 1 lunch provided by me so their pastor could get to know their friends.  I would encourage the members to tell their friends that I am interested in hearing their answers to 3 questions about their spiritual life and understanding of what it means to follow Christ.  Then I would ask for 5 minutes to respond to them.

Recently at the end of a message on another gospel-saturated passage from Isaiah, I urged the congregation to speak of the resurrected Christ to their friends and workmates.  Then I offered to help by telling them I wanted to come alongside with this approach.  I had simple invitation cards in my pocket (see below) and told them to come see me if they wanted one.  Several came to me after the service for a card.  I am excited that I have my first appointment tomorrow.

I share this for several reasons.  Some have asked for further explanation, so here it is in writing.  Secondly, all three involved will need prayer:  the member as he or she exercises boldness; the friend who will need to overcome fear and sin to trust Christ for salvation and us as His messengers; me so that I can hear hearts and respond appropriately with proper application.  So perhaps some reading this will pray for the Lord to use it.  Also, I do not have any hidden motivations beyond a genuine concern that others would come to know the Lord who has saved me.  So I want my intentions to be known.  Fourthly, perhaps this will encourage another pastor or you might encourage your pastor by finding a way to introduce him to a friend.  Finally, perhaps other pastors with full ecclesiastical cups might share below ideas of how it is that you get time with those who do not know Christ.

Oh, what is one of those Isaiah promises?  How about this one as it speaks about the heavenly Jerusalem:

Before she was in labor she gave birth; before her pain came upon her she delivered a son. Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? –Isaiah 66:7-8a

Does it not make you want to shout out, “I have!”?

Card Front

Card Back


  1. timbloedow April 18, 2012 at 11:18 am #

    If the people are being equipped to do the work of the ministry (Eph.) and are doing so, and so bringing non-Christian friends to church, can you “kill two birds with one stone”? Both…and scenario? For prayer meetings, maybe one could call several unbelievers to pray for each meeting: neighbours, local business owners, politicians. Maybe a mid-week service outdoors where non-believers pass by would also be a both…and strategy? A baptist church in Lafayette apparently uses nouthetic counselling as their primary evangelism tool, a church-wide community-based evangelism ministry in which the elders are involved. Anyway, some both…and ideas that may be worth considering for busy Christians. I need to start using them now too…

    • Barry York April 18, 2012 at 10:06 pm #


      Certainly members of the church should pray for their community and invite their friends to church, and we encourage such. Yet there are those who will not come to the Word, so the Word should be brought to them. As you say, both/and. The apostles preached to people when they assembled and also took the gospel door-to-door and to the marketplace. My article was explaining just one way I’m attempting to do so. Also, it is part of the equipping I want to do, as coming alongside a fellow believer and witnessing to their friend can help them to better do so.

      Thanks for your good thoughts!

  2. bobw April 19, 2012 at 8:56 am #

    I like it! thanks for sharing.

    you’ve probably considered this, but it would also be helpful to follow up with your congregants after the lunch meetings, to encourage them to follow up with their friends, and also urge them to ask such questions on their own, now that they’ve seen it done. there can be a danger of “leaving it to the professional” as well as the danger of assuming one gospel conversation is sufficient in every case.

  3. bobw April 20, 2012 at 3:15 pm #

    Reblogged this on Not Quite Seminary and commented:
    A practical idea for pastor-assisted, 2-on-1 evangelism

  4. Terrie van Baarsel April 21, 2012 at 12:35 am #

    What a great idea! A learning experience for all. I’d like to hear how it goes..

  5. Andrew Manwarren October 9, 2012 at 2:06 pm #

    I just came across this today and as a fellow pastor I am wondering if there is any update on how this has gone for you? Any “tweeks” you have made as you go along? i find it very intriguing and may perhaps try it myself!

  6. Andrew Manwarren October 9, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    Not sure if my previous comment went through so if this is a repeat I apologize: I am just wondering if there is any update on how this has been going. Are there are any “tweeks” you have made since? As a fellow pastor I am very intrigued by this!

    • Barry York October 15, 2012 at 1:36 pm #


      Thanks for asking about 1-3-5.

      When I first initiated this, I met with a few people who were family or coworkers and, by God’s grace, had some great interactions. I suspended it over a busy summer, then reintroduced it this fall. I am hopeful to meet with some others soon.

      One of the unintended results was that several members of the church who invited others told me they received some polite declines, but then had significant conversations with their invitees. One even led to a invite to a Bible study that was accepted. So I’m thankful that at the very least it stimulated our folks to be engaging unbelievers around them.

      For me personally, I am grateful to enter the world of some of our members to break out of the “church insulation” that can begin to crowd around the pastorate. I really enjoyed that aspect of it.


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