by Kleber Gonçalves
“In Christchurch, New Zealand, and now in Newcastle, Australia, we have held neighborhood barbecues. With a lot of prayer—for God’s favor, for His Spirit to open hearts, and for courage—I knock on doors inviting people. I tell them not to bring anything as friends from church are helping put on the meal.
“The idea is to be friendly. The ‘churchiest’ thing that happens is that I say grace and ask a blessing for our street and city. Other than that, it’s up to people to mix, mingle, and be friendly.
“The first time we did it in Christchurch, we had 60 from church and 100 people from the neighborhood attend. This led to three people coming regularly to church, a small-group Bible study starting in one of the homes on our street, and several attending other community programs. At our new house here in Australia, we had 60 from church come to put on the meal and 31 neighbors. So far, six people have come to church, and two have asked for Bible studies.”
Benjamin Rea has served as an urban church planter and currently pastors the Wallsend
Seventh-day Adventist Church in the city of Newcastle, Australia.
“Jesus left clear orientation to all who would one day follow Him: ‘You are the salt of the earth’ [Matt. 5:13, NIV]. But how does salt fulfill its purposes in any meal? It needs to be put in the cooking pan, and it has to be mixed in the food. Salt does nothing if it’s kept inside the saltshaker. In the same way, if we want to be a positive influence in the community we seek to reach with God’s love, we have to intentionally place ourselves in the ‘cooking pan’ and ‘mix’ ourselves with people around us. Anything will work, as long as we make them thirsty for the Living Water [John 4:10]. Be the flavor for Jesus!”
Kleber Gonçalves is senior pastor of the Nova Semente Seventh-day Adventist Church in the heart of São Paulo, Brazil. He is also director of the Global Mission Center for Secular and Postmodern Studies.