April 23, 2015

By Bob Farr

Often times the very process we put into place to help, is instead a process that debilitates the organization it was designed to help! With the best of intentions, it simply complicates the process or misses the mark of its purpose. In many churches, this is what has happened with our Evangelism Committees. Because we know how important evangelism is in the life of a congregation, we assign a committee of people to be responsible for the task. Yet many times, transferring responsibility to a committee allows everyone to be excused from the task or process. The congregation many times feels evangelism is “covered” by the committee, so that gets us (congregational participants) off the hook. In essence, what happens is that the work of many becomes the work of few. The few get tired of carrying the load. Furthermore, we don’t believe that was the intention of evangelism to begin with. Each and every believer is called to share the Good News – not just the pastor...not just the evangelism committee!
    
While many Christians know they are called to share about Christ, we find many feel they are not equipped to do so. Others are scared to do so. And yet others feel they will not have the answers to questions asked of them when sharing. So for these reasons and most likely many more, people just don’t share their faith openly and routinely. 
    
How do we go about sharing our faith in today’s world in a way that we who are followers of Christ can do so being comfortable? How can we share our faith in a world that is sometimes skeptical of the church and its people? How does this work at the church today if not the evangelism committee? We believe it starts by learning your own story in safe places at the church. A great question to ask in every Sunday school class, committee meeting, small group, etc. is “tell me about a time recently you have experienced God.” Our first step at the church is to learn our own God stories. If we start by sharing our stories in safe places like small groups at church, close family and friends, perhaps even a testimony in worship, we are readying ourselves to share our story with those in our community.
    
We believe evangelism is about starting conversations, building a relationships over time and then knowing how to share your own authentic story and experience of God in a nonthreatening way. Your story is where God is intersecting in your life yesterday or today. Your story is how and why God is a part of your life today. When we nurture the people in our congregations to know their stories and practice their stories in safe places, we have begun to create a culture of congregational evangelism rather than committee evangelism. Every person in the entire congregation not only sees it as their individual responsibility to share their faith, but they are also encouraged, nurtured and equipped to do so. How are you creating a culture of congregational evangelism?
    
Congregations are finding our Triple Six - Get Their Name package helpful in jump-starting the process. The package includes a six-week sermon series for the pastor, a six-hour workshop with the congregation, and six months of follow-up coaching.
    
This is about changing your church from an inwardly focused church to an outwardly focused church. This takes time, training and practice to create a new culture of invitation.
    
This column was originally written for an upcoming issue of The Circuit Rider. Find The Circuit Rider online at www.ministrymatters.com. 10 Prescriptions for a Healthy Church is available from Abingdon Press at www.abingdonpress.com.