David Koop, pastor of Coastal Church in Vancouver BC, had the challenge of building a church in the heart of one of the biggest cities on the planet from ground zero. A former oil company consultant, Koop and his wife, Cheryl, answered God’s call from the prairies of Manitoba to the cosmpolitan high rises of Vancouver. He tells his story in “Making the City A Better Place: Spiritual Building Blocks to Engage an Urban Community.”
Koop has built a congregation that reaches 80 ethnic groups since he started Coastal Church over 20 years ago. When he first starting doing outreach for Coastal, he did the traditional methods of evangelism and failed. “We spent thousands of dollars on calling people and inviting them to see a film,” he says. “We got maybe four people to come see the film.”
Koop went back to the drawing board and researched the main needs of the community around him. He discovered that the #1 need that the affluent residents in high rises next to his church was relationships. “Loneliness is the number one problem in our cities,” he says. “Over 80 percent of the world’s population is located in cities. We must reach cities that have the loneliest people.”
City dwellers crave relationships and Koop took a fresh look at how Jesus and his disciples evangelized cities.
Jesus and His disciples used a method that literally turned empires upside down. Koop based his outreach on Luke 10:5-9.
“Whenever you enter someone’s home, first say, ‘May God’s peace be on this house.’ If those who live there are peaceful, the blessing will stand; if they are not, the blessing will return to you. Don’t move around from home to home. Stay in one place, eating and drinking what they provide. Don’t hesitate to accept hospitality, because those who work deserve their pay. “If you enter a town and it welcomes you, eat whatever is set before you. Heal the sick, and tell them, ‘The Kingdom of God is near you now.’”
“We started going to people’s homes,” says Koop. “We built relationships around the dinner table.” The method of outreach
is very simple:
#1 Go to someone’s house.
#2 Eat with them.
#3 Heal the sick.
#4 Tell them that the kingdom of God is near you now.
The traditional evangelistic outreach method of hosting an event and inviting people to come were ineffective for Koop. When his staff become focused on going to people’s homes and connecting with them where they are at – the church grew and still grows today. I was so excited about this method that I decided to try it immediately when I got back from the meeting where I heard Pastor Koop speak.
My husband, Jerome and I brought dinner to a family despite a snow storm. The family was blown away that we came over to hang out and brought them food. “No one has ever brought us dinner,” the mom told us. I visited another single mom who lived across town and it was the first time that someone from my church came to see her.
Since then I’ve tried to clear my schedule to get together with people. My husband and I took a family out to dinner the other night. We are trying to live out this scripture of going to people to bring healing and the kingdom of God.
I would love to see a movement among my friends visiting others with the love of God. What if everyone that was a Christian visited someone’s home, ate with them and prayed with them? Jesus method of evangelism is critically needed in our individualistic culture where loneliness and isolation are prevalent. Let’s go to someone’s house, eat with them and bring healing and the kingdom of God.