How “falling in love with lost people” resulted in unexpected transformation.
By Jeff Ludington
On Sunday, January 22, Generations Church (RCA) baptized 16 people. That would normally be the most exciting thing, but I am more excited about how those baptisms came about. It had little to do with me or our leadership, but was the result of our church falling in love with lost people.
Let me back up a bit: the Far West Region asked a leader from each classis to spearhead some training an RCA pastor was offering called Organic Outreach. Organic Outreach is not a program but rather a posture. It equips churches to orient every ministry around reaching people who don’t know Jesus. After some training, Generations Church implemented Organic Outreach fully in 2016.
As we launched our church in Los Alamitos, California, in 2016, we used the training and resources to gain and keep momentum in outreach. We focused on reaching lost people through the things we already had planned, like serving the community, fundraising for clean water, hosting barbecues, and counseling. These are all things we already do as a church, but now we added the twist of extending it beyond our church. Through these things, we developed relationships with people who didn’t know Jesus and didn’t go to church. And they began showing up at Generations.
Fast-forward to January 22, Baptism Sunday. Five people were going to be baptized. The morning’s message was on stewarding our faith and included teaching on baptism. Before we began the baptisms, I said, “Today we are baptizing some in our church. In case you have never been baptized, we have shorts and t-shirts if you decide to join the others today.” The end of the message invited those who wanted to respond to come and meet with an elder. Sixteen people came forward—eleven who had not planned on it. Both kids and adults confessed faith in Christ and were baptized, even two entire families (just like in the book of Acts!).
We realized that most of the baptisms were a direct result of the Organic Outreach efforts from the prior six months. Some people came through marriage counseling, and some from events in the city. Other people came to church through friends because we promote sharing our faith regularly. Our service had 175 people in church that day and just about ten percent of the church committed to Jesus for the first time by being baptized. The best part of it was that it was a movement of our church, all for the glory of God.
Jeff Ludington is lead pastor of Generations Church (RCA) in Los Alamitos, California, and is executive director of church leadership for California Classis.