This is the first of what I hope will be a steady stream of blogs designed to help Christians weave evangelism into the very fabric of their churches. My intention is to post one “Weaving Evangelism” blog per month in addition to my other blogs which seek to encourage thoughtful faith and faithful thinking.
As I’ve met with pastors and church leaders, we’ve tried to explore ways for evangelism to be less isolated from the normal, regular activities of the local church.
One concept we’ve experimented with is that of “Evangelism Advocates” who serve small groups, Sunday school classes, and other subgroups within the church by keeping the goal of outreach on the front burner.
I’ve posted some resources for these evangelism advocates here and hope to add to them over time.
Here is one suggestion for how Evangelism Advocates can serve their church: Most small groups spend some time sharing prayer requests. Most of those requests tend to be rather inward – needs for physical healing or relief from other kinds of suffering, or for financial provision or similar life challenges. I mean no critique of these kinds of prayer requests. God is concerned about things as simple as “our daily bread” and as grand as “thy kingdom come” and everything in between.
But Evangelism Advocates can encourage outward-focused prayer requests with prompts such as:
• “Who are some non-believers that God has placed in your life? How can we pray for them?”
• “What opportunities for evangelism might God be opening up for you?”
• “What is the next step you need to take in reaching out to a non-believer in your life?”
• “Have you made a list of non-believers to pray for on a regular basis?”
While it may not be necessary to always push for keeping evangelism on the front burner, the Evangelism Advocate will want the topic to be somewhere on the stove. For many Christians and small groups, evangelism never even enters the kitchen (unless the pastor preaches one of those uncomfortable sermons from one of those bothersome passages like Colossians 4:2-6, 1 Peter 3:15-16, Matthew 28:18-20, or…oh, there really are quite a few of them, aren’t there?)
Consider this introduction to one of the resources I’ve posted:
“Imagine that you live in a house with electricity in only one room. You call it “the electricity room.” You go there whenever you need to do something that requires electricity – dry your hair, blend a smoothie, drill a hole, send an email, or read a book by the light of anything brighter than a candle. In all the other rooms of your house, you get by without electricity.
Sounds absurd doesn’t it? Not only would this be inconvenient and inefficient, it fails to grasp the very nature and value of electricity. It would be treating something that should be central as something marginal. Far better to wire the whole house for electricity so it flows everywhere, empowers any task, and transforms every room into a more helpful and convenient place to live.
Sadly, many churches and ministries have a similarly absurd approach to evangelism. They treat it as something marginal rather than central. They have separate pastors, separate committees, separate events (usually poorly attended), and separate times of the year to emphasize outreach. Some church leaders say, “That’s not our calling. We leave that up to evangelistic groups.” Others say, “If we really build up the body, evangelism will inevitably flow.” The results of such thinking are less than encouraging.
If you think this new aspect of my blog might be helpful to others, please encourage them to subscribe using the link on the top right of my home page. I welcome your feedback and ask for God’s blessing as we seek to tell more and more people the good news about the Messiah.