When a church is launching or casting vision for its small group ministry, the focus is usually on getting people already a part of the church to become part of a small group. What if we turned this on its head? What if we trained up small group leaders, like we do church planters, and sent them out to plant new small groups among those who do not yet know Christ? Imagine if a church made their primary concern connecting people outside of their own community of believers (Romans 15:20)!
One of my professors from seminary actually started a house church by putting an add in the classifieds of the local paper inviting people to come and learn more about how the Bible speaks to life today. Rich community resulted from that invitation which continued for years and helped many people discover Jesus. Like my professor, I have found it more energizing and easier to launch new groups made up of unchurched people than attempting to create satisfying groups for people who, for years, have been an active or inactive part of the church.[i]
Unchurched people tend to come with less expectation and more anxiety because they have no basis for comparison. If anything, their perception of church is a religious one, and small groups present a wonderful opportunity to show them that God is not interested in our religion.He wants relationship with us. The best way to communicate this message is to show the unchurched what authentic, loving relationships look like.
Small groups provide ways of initiating spiritual conversations, and they augment a believer's influence through relational evangelism. When believers are engaging in relational evangelism, they invest in the people they are reaching by taking the time to learn about them, to meet them ...