Pastor Bob has developed a 20-hour evangelism course to help members share their faith. They will learn an outline, several Bible passages, and practice how to deal with objections. For six weeks, Bob advertised the new program in the church bulletin, newsletters, and mentioned it from the pulpit. When the first night arrived, Pastor Bob was surprised—and a little discouraged—when seven people (out of 400 in worship) showed up. The seven people who responded probably have the gift of evangelist, and should be trained by Bob’s program. But the rest of the church is waiting to be trained in “relational witnessing.” They just don’t know it. Neither does Pastor Bob. Focus on these issues:
- Start cultivating your congregation to have outreach thinking. Ask your key leaders to read the book The Jesus Enterprise: How You Engage Culture to Reach the Unchurched.
- Continue the cultivation of the members of the church in a massive biblical worldview campaign like the 70 Days of Vision using the book Discover Your Windows: Lining Up With God’s Vision and the 70 Days of Vision Campaign Resource Kit.
- Meanwhile, at every meeting, gathering, Bible class, or function, take a few minutes and ask if members would like to share what God is doing in their lives.
- Using the socio-gram from The Jesus Enterprise, conduct cottage meetings (complete with refreshments) with about 20 members at a time.
- At the cottage meetings, teach the Great Commission mentality and share with them the number of people in your county who are self-declared non-Christians. (You can get this information from firstname.lastname@example.org.) Most people will be shocked to know what a large percentage of the population this is!
- Pass out the socio-grams at the cottage meetings and ask them to list the unchurched people they know who live within the reach of your church.
- Ask them to list people in these categories: (1) friends; (2) relatives; (3) neighbors; (4) people with whom they work; and (5) people with whom they go to school. These are the people with whom they already have relationships. (This process is explained in The Jesus Enterprise.) Make a contest out of this. Let each person guess how many unchurched people the members of your church will collectively name, when they are all totaled. Give a prize to the winner. (Dinner at your pastor’s expense at your favorite restaurant within 50 miles of the church worked for me.)
- Make copies of the socio-gram. Ask your members to display the original in a prominent place where they see it each day in the privacy of their homes. Ask them to simply pause and pray each day for each person, by name.
- With the church copy, add mailing or e-mail addresses of each. Send them an invitation every time your church does something special. (Exclude fund raisers.) Don’t mention who gave your church their names, but tell your members to pray as each batch of invitations goes out. You’ll be surprised how many of your members will: (1) begin to focus on outreach; (2) bring their network people to a special event; and (3) share their testimony when the time is right.
This natural outreach through relationship networks represents the potential size of your church in the future. It also represents the world’s easiest outreach strategy.
How do you conduct outreach through your relationship networks? We welcome your comments below.
Kent Hunter, founder of Church Doctor Ministries, is known as the Church Doctor. His most recent e-books are The Future Is Now and The J-Dog Journey, available at no cost. Contact him at (800) 626-8515, by email, Twitter, Facebook, or visit www.churchdoctor.org.