From time to time Jeanne decides that WE need to do a major project or planting in our yard. How could I ever say no to my lovely bride? So WE talk about the project, make a plan and shop for materials together. Jeanne is a great encouragement as I use the shovel, as I run the saw or I mix the concrete. She even tells me what a great job we have done. While this processes works great for Stehr family projects, we can no longer use it for an evangelism strategy. It is no secret that population is increasing and that church attendance is decreasing. Here is a link to an interesting post about those statistics from PEW Research, if you are into numbers and charts. Southern Baptist Churches are in decline as well. There is no quick fix and the call goes out to be more evangelistic. You can read about that here in an article that grows out of the SBC Convention in June.
Like a many Stehr family projects WE talk, WE plan, WE train and We shop. However, nothing happens until I get the shovel. I think it is time as leaders we make evangelism personal again. Oh, and before you think this is an oversimplification to a complex issue. We have to be culturally relevant. We have to preach truth. We have to do ministry in a messed up world. I can make a longer list, but you get the point. It is complex.
As leaders of Sunday School/Biblical Communities we have to begin moving the discussion of evangelism from the mythical “we”, that excuses me, to something that I do. In the dusty recesses of my mind I once read that only 9% of evangelical PASTOR’S felt a call to evangelism or felt adequately trained. I am sure it is even less for the average rank and file member of our church. Yikes! We simply have to do M.O.R.E.
As leaders how do we encourage personal evangelism in our class members? Encourage your class members to follow your lead by…
- Become more open and available to meet new people in the events and activities that you already participate in. Slow down. Take a walk to the mailbox, walk the dog, or garden, just don’t forget to smile and wave. It is hard to befriend an ever moving target.
- Practicing hospitality and graciousness in building relationships. Meet and get to know your neighbors, co-workers, etc. Ask them questions and get to know their life story.
- Praying for your neighbors and what is going on in their life.
- When the opportunity presents itself in conversation do not be shy about about mentioning God, your faith or how God and your faith are helping you live and enjoy your life. They will ask questions when they are ready, just don’t be shy to naturally talk about faith issues.
- As relationships deepen and opportunity presents express care. House sit, dog sit, baby sit, Invite them to your Sunday School/Biblical Community Care Group. Look for those opportunities to minister and demonstrate a practical faith walk.
- As you continue to share your faith and have been practicing evangelism learn a couple of SIMPLE ways to share the Gospel. John 3:16 will work if that is all you know. It is not about answering all of the questions, it is about explain the basics.
It is time for evangelism to me from the mythical we, to the practical I. I hope you will join me in not only teaching this great truth, but seeking to practice it.
In Christ, Larry