What would you guess is the most difficult of the five purposes (worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and evangelism) for most of those in your church?
If you guessed evangelism, you would be right. Although people acknowledge its importance, whenever I ask people to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, they consistently state that they have the most difficult time trying to live out the purpose of evangelism. Even pastors themselves feel this way. In fact, for most Christians, the longer we are believers, the less in touch we are with non-believers. Since evangelism does not come naturally for most of us, we often ignore it completely.
We must conquer this fear. Evangelism needs to be a priority for us and for our small groups because, of the five purposes, it is the only one we can do on earth that we can not do in heaven. If we do not obey God's command on this side of heaven, it will be too late.
We need to encourage small groups in our churches to offer practical evangelism opportunities. By working together to share their faith, the entire process of evangelism will be less scary for your church members. Here are some ideas to get them started.
- Ask group members to share how they heard and came to accept the Good News that Jesus died on the cross for their sins. You may have some seekers in your group, but that is all the better. It is great for them to hear people's personal stories. After all, these stories will undoubtedly involve the retelling of the Gospel and will remind the group of the power of the invitation.
- Read and discuss biblical passages that show Christ caring for or reaching out to the lost. Luke 5:27-32 is a good example. Have group members share the first name of a person they hope would come to know Christ. In the 90 seconds it takes to go around the group and state that name, you will have a top 10 list of people for which the group can pray. The group needs to be sure to pray for those people on the list every time they meet.