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While we may be able to pursue evangelism on our own and within our individual sphere of influence, small groups can also be an effective vehicle to engage those that may not have yet heard the life transforming good news of Jesus Christ.
We Were Once Evangelized
Oftentimes, it helps us to remember that we too were tremendously blessed to receive the word of God through someone else’s evangelistic efforts. While we certainly hear of miraculous testimonies of God-encounters within a nonbeliever’s life (like when Jesus visits the person in their dreams), it’s safe to say that most of us were evangelized by one or more individuals within the body of Christ, directly or indirectly. I know an individual who had experienced both types of evangelism. While Christians were directly engaging him for a season and sharing the gospel with him, he actually ended up receiving the Lord inside of his apartment, when no one else was present. He later found out from one of his new Christian friends that there was a small group prayer meeting taking place at the same hour that he encountered the Lord, and that at this prayer meeting there was an entire room of people praying specifically for him! Indeed, The Great Commission that Jesus extended to us was not optional, and we are each called to participate (Matthew 28:19-20).
Evangelism Involves Action
Have you ever ended a conversation with the phrase, “I’ll be keeping you in my prayers” with a friend or an individual you just met? While it is certainly a kind gesture, is it the most effective thing we can do in the moment? Is Jesus invited to be a part of the conversation or are strongholds broken down to allow for spiritual growth? What if instead you were to offer to pray for the individual right there on the spot, or on the phone? It may seem intimidating, however most individuals are quick to accept the offer. Evangelism is an action we do, and not just a feeling we feel. Evangelism involves identifying a need and responding to it in a manner that is practical, sacrificial, and strikingly representative of Jesus Christ. It is genuinely caring for the individual in a way that not only helps them catch a glimpse of how God sees them, but also how He loves them unconditionally.
Evangelism is an Ongoing Lifestyle
While evangelism is at times viewed as an occasional event, it is anything but. When Jesus commanded us to go and make disciples of all nations, it was a God-sized goal that can only be done with the assistance of the Holy Spirit. And if such a goal requires the assistance of the Holy Spirit, then we know that The Great Commission cannot be achieved solely through a handful of scheduled “evangelism days.” Instead, it is through an ongoing relationship that constantly communicates with and responds to the still, small voice of God. So what can we do within our small groups to help each person adopt a lifestyle of evangelism? Perhaps facilitating a conversation with the group may be an effective starting point, where you ask each member of the group to share their story of how they were invited to church. After allowing each member to respond, ask each member how they felt when they were invited. By weaving conversations like these into group meetings, it may be able to help group members begin to understand more of what it means to be actively engaged in a lifestyle of evangelism.
For more on this topic, listen to the podcast episode: Steve Gladen small Group Outreach