When most people think of church small groups, they think of discipleship. Indeed, this is one of the most important functions of small groups: creating a community where disciples can be mentored and grow in faith.
Many small group leaders forget the crucial next step to discipleship: evangelism. Just as Christ trained up disciples who could later take his message to the world, small group leaders should be purposely creating missionaries who can act as light in a dark society. Here are six ways that you can encourage evangelism in your small group.
1. Study God’s Word
You would be surprised at how many small groups fail to give members a solid foundation in scripture. It is important that your small groups are creating people who are knowledgeable about the Word so they can share it passionately (and accurately!) in the community.
2. Train Members in Identifying Opportunities to Witness
Evangelism does not have to mean going from door to door. Almost all of us regularly run into situations where we have an opportunity to share the Good News. Unfortunately, many people fail to see these little opportunities and maximize them. When your small group members know how to identify an opportunity for evangelism, they will be able to evangelize in an organic and effective manner.
3. Go Out into the Community Together
Some people have no experience in publicly living their faith and need that first push. Plan a social event or a volunteer day when people can get out of the small group and into the world for a fun or worthy cause. This will not only give you opportunities for evangelism; it will help you to tighten the bonds in your small group as well.
4. Get People Fired Up
There is no evangelism without passion. People need to feel excited about information before they can authentically share it with others. If your small group is not producing passionate disciples, it may be time to change your curriculum or the way you lead. It’s also important to give people a chance to learn the information and prepare. Using a program like StudyChurch allows members to prepare for meetings so they can come prepared and ready to engage with each other.
5. Welcome Newcomers
A great deal of evangelism can occur within your own group. It is important to treat every new member as an opportunity to share the gospel. These people have taken the time to show up to your meeting, so they are ripe for a change in their lives. To paraphrase Gandhi, be the change you want to see in their hearts.
Ultimately only God can control the success or failure of a ministry, whether it is a small group ministry or an evangelist one. If you are looking to fill the community with the love of Christ, discuss it with our Father. Ask for guidance in making the right decisions in training and guiding evangelists and disciples.
Evangelism is the natural next step to any ministry focused on discipleship. If you are successfully and passionately leading your small group, the members should soon be ready to bring others to the Lord.