- Block Parties?
- Special Events?
In fact, this Sunday, ask the people in your group what they think their church’s primary evangelism strategy is. The chances are that they will probably not mention the very organization that they are participating in at the moment… their Sunday School class or small group! In fact, it is very likely that the group will not be able to name their church’s primary evangelism strategy – which should tell us volumes about how effective the church is in evangelism.
And honestly, Sunday School may not be their church’s primary evangelism strategy. But it is that way because of a choice made by the church leadership, not because Sunday School is ineffective as an evangelism strategy.
Andy Anderson’s classic work, The Sunday School Growth Spiral, states that one out of every three lost people enrolled in Sunday School will make a profession of faith in one year. I have talked with education ministers recently who have told me that the ratio today is even better, typically one out of two.
So why is Sunday School so effective as an evangelism strategy? Isn’t it supposed to be the assimilation arm of the church? In my opinion, Sunday School is the church’s primary evangelism strategy for the following reasons:
- Sunday School is the largest and only organization of the church that includes ALL of its members (if your Sunday School or small group organization has fewer members than the church membership, it’s not much of an assimilation strategy either);
- When group members bring a lost friend to the group, their friend gets to see the church in action… every Sunday School class is a microcosm of the church. Their friend participates in: prayer, ministry, Bible study, and fellowship;
- The spiritual gifts of each person in the group can be used to share the Gospel in a group setting;
- Interaction with the Word of God. A group that is studying God’s Word is presenting the Gospel each time they open and study the Bible.
Many lost people know that making a decision for Christ is important, and therefore do not want to make an impulsive decision. The Sunday School class offers what they need; time to make the decision; a laboratory to check Jesus out; and people to answer their questions.
Sunday School should not be the only place in the church where evangelistic emphasis is occurring. However, I believe that the church’s Sunday School or small group structure should be the church’s primary strategy.
Since the church has a Great Commission to make disciples and witness for Christ (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8), shouldn’t it make sense that the largest organization of the church have evangelism as its prime directive?
Now let me ask a question: Who was the last person your group led to Christ, and when was it?
How can your group become more evangelistic? I do not have a formula or a red pill you can take that will magically transform your Sunday School into a Gospel-sharing, evangelistic dynamo. However, here are a couple of thoughts:
1) The chances are the culture in your group needs to change from an inward-focus to an outward-focus. You can change culture by repeated behavior. One Friend Day a year is not going to change culture, but repeated and continual attempts to bring unchurched people to the small group will eventually change the group’s culture.
2) Related to #1 above, most people (perhaps 80%) must act their way to new behavior. So a Bible study series on evangelism is not going to have the deep change we hope it will. Instead, be sure to help the group find a way to apply evangelism into their daily life as a part of every group Bible study. Also, plan class activities (Josh Hunt calls it “Friday Nights for Jesus”) where the group can bring unsaved friends.
3) Focus on the micro instead of the macro. Let’s face it, macro-evangelism (seeing God save many people at once, like in a revival service or a youth camp) is inspiring. But micro-evangelism (sharing Christ with a neighbor, bringing a friend to a group meeting) is more difficult, but is usually more effective and ultimately can involve more people sharing their faith on a regular basis.