New Jersey churches plan to go outside of their building to reach new people in 2023

By NAMB Staff

While no one knows what 2023 has in store, the members of Fellowship Crosspoint in Chesterfield, N.J., know something for certain — evangelism will be front and center in their church.

Like many churches, evangelism is part of its mission statement. In big lettering on the wall of the sanctuary, the statement says, “We exist to connect people to the love of Jesus and help them live on gospel mission.”

But in the church’s seven short years of existence, Fellowship Crosspoint has done more than put evangelism into a slogan on the wall. They’ve built it into the DNA of the church.

“I guess we’ve created a culture—and even created a language that’s unique to our church and our context where if you talk to someone about gospel mission, they all know what it means,” said Pastor Brennan Coughlin, who started the church in his home in the spring of 2015 after working as a high school teacher for 11 years. “They all know what it means. We’re called to use our time, our talent and our treasure to serve Jesus and connect people to Him. We’re just kind of creating a culture where if you’re around long enough, you sort of get absorbed into the culture.”

Coughlin says for much of the church’s first few years, growth came slow. But in the past two years, the church has tripled in size. While not all that growth was through new believers, some of it was.

As an example, Coughlin points to a dentist and her husband, in their 70s and 80s, who came to faith in Christ after being invited to one of the church’s small groups. The small group became a source of strength for the dentist, who was battling health concerns. After attending the small group for several weeks, they visited a worship service, and both made commitments to Christ. Just a few weeks later, the dentist was witnessing to fellow cancer patients.

Coughlin intentionally planted the church as multi-cultural, and he is excited that seven years later they are reaching people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, including African Americans, Indian Americans, and Hispanics.

In 2023, the church has big plans to dig even deeper into evangelism. Coughlin says it will start with engaging children in the community. Fellowship Crosspoint is starting an engaging, kid-friendly Bible study in the evenings at a local elementary school. The effort follows up on a day camp the church hosted for 70 kids last summer.

“We’re really gearing up our volunteers and directing them and the energy of our church towards reaching kids, because families are such a big part of our community,” Coughlin said. “Then through the kids, reaching their family.”

Going outside the building

In his 24 years at The Soar Church in Woodbine, N.J., Pastor Tom Dawson has realized that to reach his community the church must go outside of its doors. Nestled in the southeast corner of the state, his community has both poverty and multi-million-dollar beachside homes.

The church meets its community’s physical needs through a monthly food bank, a backpack program and significant partnerships with local schools.

“This has allowed us to reach people that we wouldn’t reach if we stayed in the building,” Dawson said. “We really never do any community outreach in our building. We usually go to where the people are. We found out that a lot of people are not going to come to the building even if you give them free things. But if you go to where they are, they will show up.”

When Dawson arrived in 1998, the church was a traditional African American Baptist congregation. Today, the church is intentionally multiracial as it tries to reach its highly diverse community.

In 2023, the church plans to focus on a new men’s mentoring program it started at the end of 2022. As part of the ministry, Soar Church is inviting unchurched men into Bible studies, where they are focusing on helping men grow and develop their character.

“We want to win a whole lot of men for Jesus Christ, because if our men would lead, and our men would become whom God would have them to be, it makes our communities better,” Dawson said. “So many of our young men won’t wind up in jail and in trouble if we have men mentoring them.”

Published January 4, 2023