Blog post by Kevin Allen, Western Region Director
Getting our Expectations Right
As I said in part 1, “There is no silver bullet when it comes to evangelism.” But unfortunately, churches succumb to the longing for a magical program that will instantly make and grow lots of disciples. That’s why I include the session “Getting Our Expectations Right” when training churches to run one, or both, of our Explored series evangelistic resources (Christianity Explored or Life Explored, jointly referred to in this post as (CE)).
Proper expectations help churches move beyond running CE as a once and done class to instead use CE in developing a larger evangelistic ministry. I want to outline “Getting Our Expectations Right” to give you a long-range view of cultivating an evangelism ministry in your church.
An occasional church will see large numbers of individuals catch the vision the first time a CE course is offered – we praise God for such churches – those are the exception and not the rule! Expect disappointment even from expected teammates in this endeavor. Some of the church leadership may be slow getting onboard. While they are not opposed to evangelism – their ministry passion may be elsewhere. While you are excited – you may be surprised how few members share that excitement.
What if only 25% of your congregation thinks abstractly so they can hear about something for the first time and catch a vision for how it will work. Another 25% are concrete thinkers who need to be shown examples of how it works. Then another 25% are pragmatic thinkers, who need to see results. That goes along with studies that have shown that most people (85% plus) learn through on-the-job training and coaching rather than from lecture or traditional training. There is a process that church members go through as churches move from class to course to ministry. Providing hands-on experience is necessary for people to grow in their love for the lost and to develop a vision for the CE ministry. It looks something like this:
- A church member hears the leadership introduce CE, but is skeptical about yet another program.
- Someone personally challenges the member to attend a CE course and view it through the eyes of an unbeliever (may need to be repeated several times).
- Ask the member to bring a friend with them the next time.
- As they watch and participate as table leaders build relationships and ask questions, the church member starts to think, “I can do this!”
- Invite the member to go through CE table leader training and then spend at least one course as an assistant table leader.
- After assisting at a table, they become a CE table leader themselves. Seeing the gospel producing results in people’s lives, they share stories with other church members.
- They then start to share the CE model with friends who attend other churches.
Note a couple of things about this process:
First, it takes time – expect a delay.
Second, members grow in this ministry as course leaders intentionally challenge them to take the next step. As you intentionally help people develop – you can expect results.
Expect Dramatic Results
As one is prayerful, patient and intentional; God works in this ministry.
First, non-believers hear the Gospel. Bill Bright of Cru used to say, “success in evangelism is sharing the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God.” God brings people to himself as we use CE to open up his Word with them.
Second, believers fall in love with Jesus again. As we trust the Bible to do the work – and actually see Jesus as he comes off the pages and into our lives – we can’t help but fall in love again. This may be the first miracle that you observe in running CE. Don’t discount it! People share the good news when they realize it really is the best news!
Finally, believers are trained in evangelism. CE-USA board member Dave Hampson says, “Success in CE is the development of table leaders over 4-5 years.” Building a team around the gospel produces a powerful community within a church!
Feel free to contact me with any questions at kevin.allen@ChristianityExplored.org