“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Evangelism in the Small Church

I will be the first to admit that our church is somewhat eclectic, so the following post may not fit all churches, but I think some of the principles are valid for any church.

When we started our church, we planted it in a part of town that is less than desirable, i.e. between a bar and a Mexican restaurant. The bar was a well-known drug emporium (it has since changed owners and has cleaned up, but it is still a bar).

We felt led to bring a church into this area that was focused on people that had 'fallen through the cracks' in the system; aka people habitually out of work, with low skill sets, and/or drug/prison issues. Now, I will state clearly that not all or even the majority of our people are folks that fit that category, however we do have our share.

This presented us with an issue: How could a small group with only a few mature Christians reach a community that was hurting with the good news of the Gospel? After all, many would say that you need a 'program' for Evangelism, and this requires money (we have very little), and a team (we had a small group). We prayed about this and discussed it, looking into the Bible for our model as opposed to some of the more tried and true modern methods.

I am not saying that these modern methods are wrong, or even unBiblical, but some of them do tend to give the impression that you need more than you actually do to accomplish evangelism. So what did we find?

First and foremost -- we had to evangelize our church! I pastor a church in the Bible Belt, and you would be surprised (if not from here) at the number of unsaved people INSIDE churches -- having attended church their entire life, there are some people who cannot even present the Gospel! So, we started by teaching our folks the full Gospel, (not leaving out the more painful parts, such as God's wrath is upon us until we are drawn to Christ), and then teaching that it is EVERY Christian's responsibility to share their faith.

We created a church of evangelists -- we no longer needed a big team, or money to start a program -- people naturally shared their faith, and therefore we have a church that is actively involved in the community as a whole, not in sporadic programs, or with a 'special' evangelistic team.

Our little church, as Daniel who stops by here periodically will attest, is pretty active in outreach, I believe that we are active beyond our size limitations. This is not something I can toot my horn about, it is solely the providence and grace of God that has put us in this position, by first placing in our hearts the desire to plant the church in this location, and secondly, by gently and patiently guiding us to evangelize our church.

A small warning -- you will be greeted with a variety of attitudes when you attempt to teach the church how to share the gospel -- everything from eagerness to downright derision that you would be arrogant enough to think that "I" need to be taught the Gospel. Be prepared to gently, but firmly, stay the course.

Everyone in your church should be able to share the full gospel as naturally as if they were discussing the weather! I am not discussing the new guy who just walked in last week, but your core should be Gospel-preaching, Gospel-living, Gospel-sharing folks. A small church cannot have pew-warmers.


Even So... said...

the full Gospel, (not leaving out the more painful parts, such as God's wrath is upon us until we are drawn to Christ)

Excellent, and the whole post too...

Anonymous said...

Good Stuff!


Ray said...

Thanks guys -- One of the things we are doing on Wednesday evenings is a study through Systematics. This has helped people, (we are in Bibliology), gain or regain a confidence in the Scriptures.

That is so helpful when it comes to evangelism; if someone is timid and unsure about the Scriptures, it makes it hard to preach them with conviction.

daniel said...

Got a plaque in my office says "Preach the gospel always, if necessary use words."

Great way to spread the gospel.