We all want to see people come to faith in Jesus. Speaking personally though, I find it hard to talk with people about Jesus, especially people I don’t understand. I have found over the last couple of years that I am most effective with people that I don’t have to work to understand, people like me. Paul seemed to have a similar understanding and modeled his ministry accordingly.

Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures. (Acts 17:1-2 NKJV)

In the book of Acts we find 8 references to Paul teaching in Synagogues when he visited a new town. He figured out his most effective arena for connecting with people, and engaged them RELENTLESSLY. Paul went to the Jews, to a place where he was comfortable, and reasoned with people, people he understood culturally and intellectually, and he did it over and over again.   We can adapt this principle to our church planting. What is your synagogue? Who are you most suited to reach and engage with the message of Jesus? What cultures / sub-cultures do you fit with? We need a strategy, Paul’s was to go to the Synagogue first and begin to reason from the scriptures. Our customs will differ but this principle is timeless for effectively reaching people.

This is a proactive and effective approach to Church Planting. Not waiting for people to find you, but intentionally seeking out people in places that are familiar to us, even if we are in a new community.

So how do we know what our synagogue (place for connecting with people) is? Notice Paul’s words in Philippians 3 as he describes his upbringing, pedigree, lifestyle and passion.

4 though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. (Philippians 3:4-6 NKJV)

The question is, where do people like that hang out? Well, Paul knew the answer…the Synagogue! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out where Paul would be most effective. The Apostle had a unique background that prepared him to reach a certain type of person. So he leveraged his personality, gifting and history to reach the people that he understood.

Likewise we will most effectively engage people that we understand. So the question is; Who are you? What are your hobbies, interests and passions? What do you excel at? What was your upbringing? The second questions is; Where do you find people that you understand and connect with? These are people that you can anticipate their questions, reservations and objections. Why? Because you had them yourself. That is a good way to figure out your synagogue.

What could a synagogue look like? It could be a soccer, basketball or volleyball team. Maybe it is a school campus or a 4H club. It could even be something nerdy like a book club or as organic as a farmers market. Some guys I know engage homeless ministries, drug rehabs and prisons. My personal synagogue is hunting. I take people hunting, put hunting videos on YouTube with a Gospel message and throw a banquet every year at the church that draws a few hundred sportsmen from the area. It has been an effective avenue that God has used me to reach people. I understand them and help them understand Jesus.

I have no idea who you are, but I do know there are people like you out there who don’t know Jesus and they are waiting for someone to walk into their synagogue and throw down the Good News in a way that they can understand. The pulpit should not be the only place we proclaim the Gospel. We need a proactive ministry. We need what Paul had, a synagogue. What is yours?