By Dr. Marcus Merritt
Independence Day is often recognized in the local church, but how can a patriotic service turn into an evangelistic service? One way is by inviting, and then sharing the gospel, with the men and women who have served in the American armed forces. Current and former soldiers represent the kind of people who have made our nation great. As believers we should be eager to show our appreciation for their service, and we should be just as eager to share our faith with them.
Any type of special event takes a great deal of hard work. You will not likely get the results you desire unless you have a team of people working to organize this event. However, if it is done correctly, you will have the privilege of sharing the gospel with a number of military personnel along with their friends and family members.
Below are a few helpful tips on organizing a Fourth of July Service at your church.
- Locate the soldiers/veterans/National Guard members in your community
- Find out which branch of the military they serve(d) in
- Find out if they served in any specific battles, won any awards, etc.
- Put together a short bio on each veteran
- Purchase commemorative medals from a website such as http://www.medalsofamerica.com that best fits their individual military experience (medals begin at around $25)
- Personally visit local businesses and allow them the opportunity to invest in a medal. This will greatly offset the church’s expense.
After getting a firm commitment from the veteran that he/she plans to attend, send out personal invitations to the veteran’s:
- In the worship service introduce all the veterans individually (read a short bio) and have their family members, or an active member of the military, pin on their medal
- Be intentional with the music – make it patriotic
- Have a Color Guard unit from the local High School ROTC present the colors
- Lead in the pledges to the American and Christian flags
- Preach an evangelistic sermon based on the sacrifice that Christ made for our freedom (& why that is the greatest sacrifice).
- Provide an opportunity for people to respond to the Gospel.
- Have multiple “counselors” available to pray with those who respond
- Offer more than one way to respond to the invitation
- Follow-up with every visitor who attended the service (for more information on follow-up contact the Evangelism Ministries team at the Georgia Baptist Convention)
For more information on this topic, or anything evangelism related contact us.