How Open Air Meetings Work – 8 Steps to Replicate
“Like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it.” I Cor 3:10b
How is the gospel spread? How did Jesus go about building the kingdom of God?
First, Jesus created the church. Then he sent out its members to be his witnesses, as it says in Acts 1:8. So, it seems like God plans to save the world from sin and death … through us?
That’s right – we’re it. Ordinary fallen humans. That’s how highly God thinks of us.
Paul’s description of himself as a “wise master builder” implies we can’t just go out there without a plan and expect healthy churches to sprout up.
It takes wisdom, perseverance, faith, prayer, and resources.
In our mission to reach the lost, SOWERS has developed a method of building the kingdom of God in underdeveloped nations that produces an abundance of fruit. They’re called “Open Air Meetings.”
8 Steps to Spread the Gospel in Other Nations
Here are the steps our evangelists use to run a successful open air meeting:
Step 1: Strategy
The ministering church team determines where and when to hold the meeting.
Step 2: Preparation
The team arrives early with two tasks to complete. One group sets up the sketch board and the paint that will be used in the presentation. The other group invites whoever they find to come hear the story.
Step 3: Presentation
First, the program begins with some kind of puzzle or game to get people's attention. Once a good crowd has gathered, a team member shares an interesting story or information to generate interest. This is followed by a testimony. The power of your testimony is magnified when people know what you were like before, and how your life has changed since you started following Jesus. For the listeners, this creates a heartfelt concern about their own spiritual condition, such as when Peter gave his first sermon at Pentecost and they were "cut to the heart."
Step 4: Witness
With the audience now ready, the evangelist presents a clear gospel message using the sketch board to illustrate what he says. By the end, every listener has heard and seen a simple gospel message of repentance and salvation.
Step 5: Invitation
The evangelist asks for a response, and invites the people to receive Christ as their Savior. Anyone who is interested comes forward.
Step 6: Follow-up
The people who came forward are counseled by team members who are intermingled among the crowd. We have a small counseling booklet that helps the Sower lead these people to Christ. At the same time, the people who didn’t come forward meet with other team members who use the sketch board to explain the gospel again and answer questions. So even if they didn’t respond at first, they often do with this extra individual counseling.
Step 7: Discipleship
Every person who responds to the gospel is invited to a nearby church. If there’s no church nearby, the team returns the next day to follow up with those who made a decision or have more questions. They invite people to a nearby location where they start a weekly Sunday service. They continue meeting until a new church is firmly rooted and raises up a pastor.
Step 8: Replicate
Once healthy and large enough, that new church gets trained in the Sowers method, and sends out its own team to do the same process in other nearby areas.
That’s how we build the church.
Sowers continually raises up local leaders for local churches. People who know the language and customs of the area. In this way, once a seed is planted and grows, the fruit from that seed gets used to plant a new one.
It’s a method of exponential growth built upon an ever-expanding base of ministers. Sowers doesn’t have to rely on one or two ‘all-star’ leaders to do it all. We equip the church to do the work of ministry.
Gospel Power to Change the World
When you study the apostle Paul, you see that he laid a foundation, but another built upon it. Paul himself didn’t start every church. The people he raised up as leaders went out and started their own.
That’s how the gospel eventually transformed the entire Roman Empire in just a few hundred years, so much that the emperor in power in the early 300s A.D. made Christianity the official religion of the nation.
This is the same nation that crucified Jesus, and then persecuted his followers for centuries afterward. It was a nation of corruption, sexual debauchery, violence and bloodshed – even in their entertainment (the gladiator games), slavery, treachery, and abandonment.
Come to think of it, that doesn’t sound so different from a lot of places today.
Can the gospel, spread through the church by the power of the Spirit, transform our world today like it did the Roman Empire?