By Tim Massengale
Apostolic churches across America are seeing a simple, but effective ministry spark new life into their churches and Sunday schools. It’s surprisingly easy to do. Often times it leaves saints scratching their heads and asking, “Who would have thought it was this easy?” and “Why didn’t we think of this before?” What is this exciting, yet effective ministry? Most are simply calling it ‘Car Ministry.’
What is Car Ministry?
Every Sunday, dozens of cars pull into our parking lots with saints coming to the House of God for worship. They bring themselves, their spouses and their children. A few bring friends and extended family members. But most cars arrive with several empty seats – seats that could be carrying souls in need of salvation.
Car ministry attempts to utilize these empty car seats for evangelism. If I’m driving to church anyway, why not take a few minutes to pick up someone that would like to attend church and who is also needs God? You only need two simple elements in order for Car Ministry to work: (1) Saints willing to someone up and bring an indivudual to church, and (2) individuals needing a ride that wish to go to church. All we have to do is find both of these elements and we are in business.
Car ministry is often launched by asking a simple question: “Who owns your car?” Start asking members within your congregation and you will get a variety of answers. One replies, ‘I do.’ Another says, ‘the bank does,’ or ‘my father’ or ‘the lease company.’ But with a little forethought, most would admit that, ultimately, GOD owns their car. It truly is HIS car. He owns all we have, for we belong to Him. God owns our families, our bank account, our houses, and yes, even the car we drive. We have surrendered everything to HIM.
“Well, since God owns your car — then God wants to use it for a few minutes each week. Will you let Him? If your answer is YES, then here’s what we will do: We will come into your neighborhood with a door knocking team. We will knock on doors all around your house, extending out for several blocks, and we will find someone that would come to church if they only had a ride. If you are willing to call them a half-hour early on Sunday morning to remind them that you will soon be by to get them, and then will pick someone up and bring them to the House of God, we will find them for you. So, are you willing to let God use His car?”
How Car Ministry Works
Car ministry starts by asking who would be willing to pick someone up and bring them to church on Sunday morning. We stress that we will find these people for them if they will just bring them. All we need are willing car owners. Once we have this list of willing individuals, we then ask who would volunteer to meet at the church once a month on a Saturday morning (plenty of free coffee and donuts) and go out door knocking for a few hours. We quickly train our door knockers and then hit the streets to find the hungry souls.
Training your door knockers is easy. All they do is memorize the following dialog: “Hi, my name is Mike and we are from New Life Tabernacle. We are launching a transportation ministry in this neighborhood to help people attend church that do not have a way to do so. Do you attend church anywhere on Sunday morning? [Let them answer]. Well, would you or anyone in your house be interested in attending a wonderful, friendly church on Sunday morning if we provided free transportation?”
They will answer. Or they may ask additional questions. Granted, most do say ‘no.’ Either they already attend church or they have no interest in doing so themselves. However, you will be pleasantly surprised to find out that there are people all over your city that would like to attend a loving, friendly, exciting church if they only had a ride. I’m serious. They are out there! All you have to do is pray, and then knock on doors for a few hours and you will find them. The fields are truly white!
What kind of people are these? After having successfully done this for several years, we have found that the majority fit into the following categories:
1. Elderly – Many can no longer drive for a variety of reasons. Health or poor eyesight is the most common. But they would love to attend church once again.
2. Single car owners – Usually their spouse has the car on Sunday morning for work. Since they only have one car, they need a ride for the rest of the family to attend church.
3. Teens – More common than you might think. Often they are lonely and just want fellowship. So they hope to meet other young people at church. They want friends. They want to belong to a youth group. Just ask them!
4. Children – These are usually kids whose parents want them to attend Sunday school, but don’t wish to take them themselves. While a bus ministry works best, a car ministry can also provide transportation.
5. Poor – With rising gas prices, some have limited funds and therefore must restrict their driving to only essential locations like work and shopping. The only way they can come is if they can find a ride.
6. Unmotivated – Oddly enough, this individual wants to go to church, but they need encouragement to do so. They know that they will get up and get ready if someone is picking them up. But without that obligation, they will just stay in bed.
All we need to do is match up those needing a ride with those who are willing to give a ride. With a little effort, most of the cars pulling into your parking lot on Sunday morning can have an extra rider to two, individuals that, before long, will be responding to your altar call and stirring the waters of baptism.
Best Places To Find People
The first place to look for people needing a ride is the immediate neighborhood around the homes of those willing to pick up a rider. In many neighborhoods, a team of five to seven individuals, knocking on doors on Saturday morning between 10:00 AM and 1:00 PM, will find at least one or more people needing a ride.
However, results are greatly influenced by the economic status of the area. Poorer neighborhoods often have more people who lack transportation. Apartment complexes also are prime locations. Retirement villages and low income housing projects are especially fruitful. You will find that the poorer the neighborhood, the more people needing a ride.
However, any neighborhood, with a little time and effort, will yield riders. Elderly individuals, who have moved in to live with their children, often do not wish to impose upon their married children for a ride to church each Sunday. Neighborhoods with lots of kids provide many opportunities to bring children to Sunday school. The old saying is still true: Hungry people are everywhere. Don’t let the enemy discourage and lie to you. They are out there! With a little time and effort, you can find an extra rider for every car.
Every Soul Needs God
The enemy has all too often convinced us that no one wants to come to church. Not true! Many people would come if they just had the chance. Scoffers will say, ‘these are just old people and kids.’ True, the majority tend to be. But each has a soul. And each has others within those homes that are in need of salvation. Once saved, we now have an ambassador to that home that can lead the whole family to Christ.
Perhaps your church cannot afford a bus or van ministry. Or even if it can, please don’t neglect the many cars that fill your parking lot each Sunday morning. The majority of your members would be willing to give an unsaved individual a ride if they only knew who needed one. Just ask them! With a combination of a little time, shoe leather, and prayer, we can see dozens of new faces sitting in our pews every Sunday. And hopefully, with the Lord’s help, many of these individuals will also have their names written down forever in the Lamb’s Book of Life!