4 Habits of Highly Evangelistic Groups

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Almost all groups struggle with evangelism. Most Christians struggle with evangelism. Rarely do I find a group that says that they are doing well in evangelism. But, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Steve Gladen says:

Our enemy the devil wants us to think that evangelism is difficult and that we will offend people by telling them about Christ. But the bottom line is this: if your small group is helping the lost become found by praying, sharing their testimonies, and inviting unbelievers to a meal or a social activity, then they are fulfilling the purpose of evangelism. It’s really that simple.[1]

Here are four idea to help your group do better in evangelism.

Pray for the lost by name

This does two things. In addition to the awesome power of prayer to move the lost, it also has the effect of reminding us of the priority of evangelism. You might do this every week in your group. When you close in prayer, you might say something like… “This week we want to remember our lost friends as we pray. What else can we pray about?”

Share witnessing encounters

Another way to keep evangelism front-and-center is to allow a moment to share opportunities that your group has had to share their faith. Ask you group on a regular basis, “Who has had an opportunity to have a spiritual conversation this week?” Share you own encounters. Lead by example.

The research indicates that we are having fewer and fewer of these conversations:

To put it simply, Americans today are less involved in spiritual conversations than we were twenty-five years ago. A “spiritual conversation” is defined as any conversation about spiritual or faith matters (including doubts) with anyone. This would include talking about Jesus with a non-Christian friend but would also include talking about the sermon you just heard with your spouse.

These spiritual conversations could have been in person but also could have occurred on the phone, via text, or even on social media. In this way the researchers used a fairly broad definition for spiritual conversations.

Yet even with a broad definition for spiritual conversations, as you can see in figure 1.2, most of us (74% of us) are having fewer than ten spiritual conversations a year. We are what the researchers characterize as “reluctant conversationalists.”[2]

Do a study on evangelism

I recommend you do this once a year. Here are a few suggestions:

One teacher used to say, “We can teach our way out of any problem.” By doing a study once a year you will teach your people necessary skills in evangelism.

Invite every member and every prospect to every fellowship every month

This is the core strategy in my book, You Can Double Your Group in Two Years or Less. People who are opposed to the gospel are not opposed to ice cream. If you can get them to the party, they are far more likely to attend group and come to faith in Christ. For a biblical example, look at Matthew in Matthew 9.9 – 13 or Google, “Matthew Party.” I recently listened to Sam Chan’s book on evangelism. He explains why this is so effective:

Hospitality is another means of evangelism, and if we carefully read the New Testament letters, we find that hospitality is quite prominent among the topics discussed and practiced by the early church. While the gifts of teaching and preaching proclaim the words of the gospel, hospitality demonstrates that the gospel is real, authentic, believable, attractive, and livable. Another way to say this is that hospitality breaks down plausibility structures. The gospel might be true, but to most non-Christians it sounds unbelievable. And the gospel will remain unbelievable as long as our non-Christian friends don’t have many Christian friends, because we tend to adopt the plausibility structures of those we know and trust. By sharing our homes with both our non-Christian and Christian friends, our non-Christian friends will get to eat with (and know) more and more Christian friends, and maybe even adopt their Christian friends’ plausibility structures.[3]

Summary

There you have it, four habits of highly evangelistic groups:

  1. Pray
  2. Share
  3. Study
  4. Party

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💥 Lesson discussion questions
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[1] Steve Gladen and John Ortberg, Leading Small Groups with Purpose: Everything You Need to Lead a Healthy Group (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2012).

[2] Don Everts, The Reluctant Witness: Discovering the Delight of Spiritual Conversations (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 2019), 19–20.

[3] Chan, Sam. Evangelism in a Skeptical World (p. 117). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.