This is the sixth episode of a ten-part series focusing on Reaching the Unchurched. In this episode, Dr. Kent Hunter looks at dynamics seven and eight. In these dynamics, Kent talks about the need to redefine the mission field and reverse the direction when it comes to outreach, moving from inviting people to church to taking church to the people.
You have now introduced your friends, Paul and Cindy, to your Outreach Cluster members, at a picnic gathering of Radiate.
- You invite Paul and Cindy to your next gathering of Radiate, a progressive dinner that moves from one home to another among the Radiate members.
- Paul and Cindy have not attended worship or shown interest in your church, but the relationships with Radiate continue to grow.
When Paul and Cindy raise the issue about attending worship at your church, you pick them up and bring them to your church.
- You prearrange for those in your Outreach Cluster, Radiate, to sit together.
- You bring Paul and Cindy and sit with Radiate.
- Paul and Cindy, at their first worship service, sit with people they’ve already come to know. They are already somewhat assimilated into your church during their first visit to worship!
- It isn’t important that Paul and Cindy know everyone at your church. It is vitally important to know some of those at your church and to sit with them.
Paul and Cindy decide they want to be baptized.
- The group from Radiate stands around them as they are baptized.
- It is a public witness and a demonstration that they are already somewhat assimilated into your church. They already have a Christian family within the context of the bigger Christian family, your church.
- At the same time, Paul and Cindy are ready for “spiritual steak.”
- You don’t invite, but bring them to a Bible study led by one of your Radiate friends.
- Over time, Paul and Cindy catch the culture of sharing God stories. Where? From their friends in Radiate!
- They begin to share their own new God stories with those in their social networks.
- As former non-Christians, many of those in Paul and Cindy’s social networks are likely not believers yet.
- Now your church begins to grow exponentially! Are you ready for revival?
When people share their God stories, it’s because the culture of your church promotes this way of life.
In time, it can lead to a revival, which is an act of God.
A revival is when the church grows by geometric progression.
At any given time in history, several Christian revivals are occurring somewhere around the globe.
- Including right now!
A revival is when it is humanly impossible to explain or imagine or measure how many people are so quickly becoming Christians, and coming into churches.
When Christians follow Jesus’ words, “And you will be witnesses of Me…”
- God brings explosive growth to the Christian movement.
To summarize the steps of this movement:
- Just start asking people in groups around your church, “Anybody want to share what God is doing in your life?”
- Be patient. Let it happen as the Holy Spirit leads. You can’t force a change in culture. You just plant seeds and nurture. God grows the movement.
- Ask those in your church to list those in their social networks who show no signs of being believers in Jesus Christ.
- Ask everyone to pray responsibly for those who are unchurched in their social networks—their sphere of influence.
- Encourage everyone to pray for an opportunity to share one of their “God stories” that relates to the challenges experienced by someone in their social network.
- Continue to build the culture of sharing God stories around church—everywhere, but in worship.
- Equip everyone at church to look for signs of receptivity.
- Watch your church explode with growth as new people come to Christ.
- Be patient, building this culture in your church takes time.
- Never stop practicing this culture.
When people live in a culture of sharing God stories at church
- They eventually, without a program, start sharing God stories with unchurched people in their social networks.
- They begin to hear God stories of others in church, as people share that they reached out to a non-Christian in their social networks.
- Then, they begin to hear good stories from those people who have been reached, who are now worshipping at the church.
- That motivates those in your church to share their God stories in their social networks all the more.
- The momentum grows also because, when someone shares their God story—and it results in a person coming to Christ, and coming to the church, it is positive reinforcement. The Bible says, “All heaven rejoices when one sinner repents.” So do the people who God used to lead those sinners to faith, and the church—through their God stories.
This culture takes on momentum and begins to grow by geometric progression—which is Jesus’ plan.
Here’s how to understand geometric progression:
- Take an 8 ½ X 11 inch piece of paper and fold it over once.
- The paper was very thin, but now is twice as thick.
- Now, fold it over once more.
- Now it is four times as thick.
- Again, now, when you fold it again, it is eight times as thick.
- Do this fifty times, and your piece of paper would be so tall, literally, it would reach from here to the sun.
- Fold it once more, and it would reach to the sun and back again!
- This is how the growth of the church is supposed to work. We don’t usually call it geometric progression. We call it revival.
Telling your God stories is the best way of witnessing.
When Jesus teaches about where or when to witness, He calls it the harvest.
You might occasionally share your God stories with strangers. If a stranger shows receptivity to you, go for it!
Normally, however, your harvest field consists of those with whom you already have a relationship.
Your harvest field is your social network: those who connect with you on Facebook or those in your phone directory.
- Your social network includes friends, relatives, neighbors, those at work, or at school.
- This is where God has placed you as a witness, where you will most often share your God stories.
- The Christian movement travels best along relationship lines.
- When you look at all the relationships of all those in your church, it represents your congregation’s most powerful platform.
When someone in your relationship network is going through stress, a major change in life, or facing a major challenge, it is a signal that the fruit is ripening, the spiritual opportunity is increasing to share your God stories.
- It is important that you remember, life is an adventure, with many twists and turns, hills and valleys.
- If someone in your social network at one time made it clear to you they are “not interested in religion,” remember, that attitude is never permanent. Why?
- Life issues are never permanent.
Ask yourself, “Do I have a life story, similar to what this person in my social network is going through?”
- Could I share my story with them at the level of their feelings?
- Remember, life and God are not just stale categories without emotions. Jesus laughed and He cried. People do too. These are signals to share what God has done in your life in somewhat similar circumstances.
This is how Christianity grows.
- It is how you, and those in your church, move beyond institution to movement.
- The person of Christ in you moves beyond a historical figure to a real person of impact.
- It’s all about relationships: you with your friend, yours with Christ, through you, Christ with your friend.
The key to becoming a contagious witness for Jesus Christ, is to focus on sharing the answer to a simple question: “What has God done in your life?”
- The answer to that simple question is a faithful response to what Jesus predicted: “And you will become witnesses of Me….”
- When someone in your church hears someone telling their God stories, their culture changes.
- They become more sensitive—discerning how God, when God, is moving in their lives.
- They are inspired by God stories of others.
- The Holy Spirit uses the inspiration for others to share their own God stories.
- It’s not a program. It becomes the unspoken norm: the culture among those in the church.
- The movement of witnessing penetrates your church, and, then spills over into the outreach sector of your congregation.
Who is that outreach sector of your church?
- It’s everyone and anyone you meet, as the Holy Spirit leads.
- However, most of the time, God stories are shared, most effectively, with those in our social networks: friends, relatives, neighbors, those where we work or go to school.
Today, social networking has become a part of our conscious existence—due to the internet.
- This greatly enhances the possibility that Christians will learn to share their God stories, if, (and only if), they are helped to make these two connections:
- One connection is the culture of telling God stories from our own experience base.
- The other connection is recognizing the triggers that occur when socializing with those who are unchurched in our social networks.
One of the big hang ups for evangelism is the idea of talking to strangers. It is scary for most people.
- It is not scary for those who have the gift of evangelism.
- However, for most of the rest of us, it is terrifying.
- So, for the 90% of us who have the role of witnessing, our God stories are usually shared with those who are in our own social networks.
- They are your friends on Facebook.
- They are the names on your directory.
All this has to do with the harvest principle, the subject for tomorrow.