Evangelism in groups? Gasp! Just when everyone was getting used to the "touchy-feely" stuff of groups with fellowship, learning/study, and sharing/prayer, now we have to add evangelism, too?
Evangelism sends a shutter into most Christians; at least it does when we define evangelism with the "revival" or "turn or burn" style of outreach. For many of us, the word evangelism ranks just below intimacy as a negative part of the church environment.
This is an unnecessary fear, since outreach can be as natural as a drive down the street (and a lot safer, too). And in the small group setting, fear can be reduced significantly for both the "evangelist" and the "evangelized."
Outreach in our midwest, suburban setting has forced a change in thinking, a change that many of our large and small churches around the nation must also face: the people we encounter already know about God and even have experienced some of God and a church setting at one time or another, but have withdrawn. Very few of our evangelistic efforts can be considered "traditional textbook conversions," and we try very hard to avoid simply swapping sheep between pens (recruiting members from other churches).
In many ways, outreach in our society has shifted from converting the unbelieving pagan to re-introducing the disillusioned believer to God and the church.
The reintroduction to the church happens best when people are exposed to others just like them who are experiencing the same joys and stresses, yet have this interactive relationship with God. And, surprise, the best place for that exposure is in the safe setting of the home during the week in the small group.
That's enough philosophy—now, the practical!
Evangelism for the church through the small group ...