The Myths of Evangelism vs. Community

How small group community and mission fit together

During the question time of the small group seminar, one leader said, "My group doesn't want to evangelize and multiply. They want to grow intimate with each other, but resist talking about outreach and breaking up. What should I tell them?" The negative intensity in the leader's voice alerted me to the importance of answering his question carefully. I also noticed that the other small group leaders and members who gathered for that Saturday seminar in Minneapolis were nodding in agreement. They too felt resistance from small group members for outreach and multiplication.

I decided to change the focus of my seminar midstream to deal with specific myths common to small groups worldwide.

  • Myth number one: If our group emphasizes evangelism and multiplication too much, we will not build community.

  • Truth: Evangelism that leads to multiplication happens far too little and should be emphasized more.

The fact is that, in America, it takes the combined efforts of eighty-five Christians, working over an entire year to produce one convert.(1) Half of all churches do not add one new person through conversion growth. When small group members say that reaching out to new people will ruin their community, they are normally expressing unfounded fears.

The reality is that non-Christians, or unchurched people, are not waiting in line for small group membership. Without concentrated effort in small group evangelism, most likely no one new will ever attend the group.

  • Myth number two: Healthy small groups focus primarily on community.

  • Truth: Healthy small groups practice community in the process of reaching out and preparing for multiplication.

Those spreading this myth normally come from larger churches that reach the majority of newcomers ...

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