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All of us who desire a Biblically balanced small group see the need to ensure that our groups are not just inwardly focused, but also have an outward reach to those who are not yet believers in Jesus Christ (Acts 2:46,47). Some use the term outreach, missional or evangelism. Whatever you call it, it is imperative that people in our small groups, no matter the type of small group, see the importance of sharing their faith with those around them. So, how can we as small group leaders encourage our members to be evangelistic in their personal world and community?
1. First and Foremost, we as group leaders must model evangelism in our own lives. Our example of fulfilling the great commission (Matthew 28:16-20) is the best motivator and inspiration for others to do the same. Share testimonies frequently how you were able to share your faith with somebody or invited someone out to your church or group. Of course, to share current testimonies, we need to be fulfilling the great commission in our daily lives! “As you go”, look for opportunities to show others and share with others the love, grace and forgiveness of Jesus.
2. Secondly, evangelism will come naturally, or should I say supernaturally, as the group member is being developed and discipled through the Word, curriculum, and interaction with the other small group members. When someone is truly growing in God’s Word and in their community of believers, their heart will desire others to experience the same hope, peace and joy that they are experiencing. Curriculum is important to fuel this passion to share one’s faith. As Steve Gladen said “What your small groups study is one of the most important choices to ensure that your small groups accomplish your church’s end purpose – to grow mature disciples.” Mature disciples of Christ see the need and obey the command to spread the good news of the Gospel.
3. Ask for testimonies or praises from the group so they can testify how they shared their faith with someone that week. Making evangelistic testimonies part of your group time will help stress the importance of outreach in a person’s life, and in your group’s life. There may not be a testimony every time your group meets, but the hope is it will become more frequent. Giving someone an opportunity to share how they witnessed to their neighbor or co-worker not only positively supports the one testifying, but also is a blessing and motivation to the rest of the group. Celebrate it, rejoice with the person and the group because of it, and pray for the unbeliever or unchurched.
4. As a group, pray regularly for those who are unbelievers to come to faith in Christ (Romans 10:1). In one group I was involved with we went around the room and asked if there was someone in each group member’s life that they would like to see come to Christ. There ended up being two unbelievers that really stuck out that we would pray for and ask regularly about, and even looked for opportunities to invite those people out to small group or a church event. Let your group members see the importance of prayer for the unbelieving person.
5. At the end of your small group meetings, you as the leader, or someone with the gift of evangelism, could encourage and remind the group to pray for and look for opportunities the coming week to share their faith with others. Let your small group studies each week always end with an eye towards the great commission. The curriculum is not just meant for us to consume as small group members, but also to transform us so we can shine the Light of Christ more and more (Matthew 5:16).
In addition to encouraging outreach during the group time, there are also certain things you can do as a group.
6. Plan a fun group event that allows group members to invite their unsaved friends and family to. This will give them an opportunity to meet other believers and see that we are “somewhat” normal. It could be as simple as a cookout or board game night, or whatever else would allow guests to come and feel comfortable spending time together with the group. This is low-pressure and more about getting to know one another. This can be the beginning of the unbeliever’s journey to know Christ personally.
7. Plan a group outreach event. Do something together as a group that advances the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Go downtown and pass out invitations to your church, church event or small group. Show the love of Christ through an outreach event that ministers to the needs of your community. Serve together at a soup kitchen or at an event at your church that reaches out to unbelievers or the unchurched. Fulfill the great commission together as a group.
These are just 7 ideas to encourage evangelism in your group. There are boundless ways and other creative ideas that your group can brainstorm and pray about based on your group’s dynamic and spiritual gifts. Personal evangelism and group evangelism can both yield fruit to God’s glory.
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