Most of us are aware that the majority of older teens and adults that come to faith in Christ have been greatly influenced to do so by a close friend or family member.
Research indicates that mass mailings and television ads often turn people away from church and the Christian faith instead of encouraging them.
We know this intuitively. It takes people to reach people but how do we do that? Is there a proven method, a process that can be a guide for all of us as we seek to influence those around us for Christ?
Since August of 2000, we have been using a process that we named 4 X four to do just that.
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” – Matthew 9:36-38
The first step is in many ways the most difficult.
Arthur Flake first enunciated this concept in 1916 as the first step in his plan for Sunday School/church growth. “Know your possibilities”. We must identify those we want to reach with the Gospel. Identify four people or families who are unchurched. These families should be within the geographical influence of your church so that they can be discipled after their commitment to faith in Christ.
Where do you find them? I have been asked that question hundreds of times. The answers are unlimited. Look next door, in the next cubicle or office, in line in front or behind you at the grocery store. It’s the person checking you out or serving your coffee. It’s the Dad or Mom sitting next to you at your children’s soccer, basketball, baseball or football games. It’s that proud parent at the dance recital or the spelling bee that you are sitting next to. I could go on, but you get the picture.
Identifying people who are unchurched is hard work but it is the place we must start.
“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” – Luke 5:31b-32
OK. You have identified your four people or families. What now? Pray for them. Intercede for them with your Heavenly Father at least four times a week. Many times my prayer for my 4 X four is simply calling their names and asking God to give me the opportunity to go to the next step in our relationship.
Have you ever had anyone refuse to allow you to pray for them?
God answers the prayers of the faithful and He will answer yours. Intercede for your 4 X fours four times a week and see what God will do!
“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” – 1 Peter 3:12
Now comes the fun part. Invest your life in your 4 X fours.
Four times a year, at least, invest your time and money in their lives. Have them over for dinner. Take them to a ball game. Help them with a project around the house. Have lunch with them. Keep their kids so they can have a date night.
In most cases, they have to trust you before they will trust your God, AND, you must be real! They must sense you care about them and are not just after another convert so you will look good in the eyes of your pastor.
If you will invest your life in the lives of your 4 X fours when that 3 a.m. phone call needs to be made, it will be you they are calling because they trust you and know you really care for them. Invest your life in their lives. It takes time, effort, and yes, money, but it is the greatest thing you can spend those resources on.
Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:37-40
Now it is time to invite them to the four special events your church is going to have designed just for them. Invite them to Sunday School, to worship and to experience forgiveness through our Lord Jesus Christ.
There is nothing like having a person come up to me at an event or a Sunday service and say, “I’ve got one of my 4 X fours with me today. Come meet them, Pastor.” When individuals come forward at the invitation or when we are baptizing and I ask the friends and family to stand, there is almost always a person who stands and the words are whispered as a thanksgiving prayer, “That’s one of my 4 X fours.”
After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. – Mark 1:14-18
This media kit was designed to help other churches have access to visual resources for 4×4. Included in this kit are all logo, card, screen and booklet files for your convenience. This material is meant to be used as is. Please do not modify or recreate any of the pieces. If you have any questions about usage, please contact Scott Willingham at scott.willingham [at] texasbaptists.org.