Last week I mentioned a fictional ministry context — a hundred people at my church (or yours) in their 20s and 30s — that we are trying to move forward in evangelism.
After convincing Pastor to preach a three-part series on evangelism, we invite everyone to a big training weekend, and 90 folks show up. They watch a video series by a famous speaker, and the following Saturday morning they go door-knocking in their neighborhoods.
Subsequent trainings and reading assignments are laid out and it’s all very exciting. Church leaders count it a success.
But in my view, perhaps not. Let me suggest a different approach, starting from the very beginning:
- Pray: Find a visionary partner or two and begin praying into this ministry context for a few months. Ask God to raise up evangelists and visionary leaders.
- Recruit: Based on this foundation of prayer, pick out a handful of the 20s and 30s who have high potential, and lay out a vision for them. Recruit them into a small, selective Evangelism Cohort.
- Meet: Let’s say eight people agree to join the Cohort. Begin meeting with them weekly for prayer, training and goal-setting.
- Celebrate those who come to faith in Christ.
At some point the excitement and success of the Evangelism Cohort attracts more people. The group doubles in size, then triples.
Now we have 24 people who are pouring their lives into witness in the power of the Holy Spirit. Their impact is felt throughout the church.
Contrast this model with the more traditional approach of inviting everyone to join, and training them with sermons, readings, videos and the like.
It starts off with 90 strong and we are thrilled for a week or two. But over time 90 shrinks to 70, then to 50, 32, and finally to a faithful 24 who stick it out till the end of the semester.
Now which is better — to grow to 24? or shrink to 24?
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I think what I’m trying to say is, start small and strong, build momentum, then expand.
Follow the example of Jesus, who began with 12 disciples and set off a global revolution.
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