When is the last time you were involved in "evangelism"? When we hear this, most of us think about a program through our church. Maybe Vacation Bible School, or a mission trip, or that one time we happened to invite a friend to church, and hope they kept coming. We may even think about the small group we're a part of, and hope to "envelope" people into the larger church by the relationships built in the small group we've invited others to.
In Neil Cole's, "Cultivating a Life for God", he presents the simple idea he calls "Life Transformation Groups". He calls people who love Jesus, and want the good news of freedom from sin, and New Creation to spread, to be purposefully involved in evangelism. Cole points out that a healthy church, perhaps even a church that is actually "being" the church, will have this type of thing happening. Too often we rely on pastoral staff, or discipleship "programs", or "step by step" introduction to the faith type classes, that often start a few months from now, etc. Even in our own church, there was an instance of a woman who wanted to "come to Jesus", but had to wait because of scheduling difficulties. That probably shouldn't happen.
The idea is simple, and seems like an exciting proposal: 1. Find someone of the same gender who desperately wants to change the direction they're life is going, and is open to Christ. 2. Meet with them on a regular basis doing three things: confessing sin, discussing scripture read the previous week (20-30 chapters a week), and praying for others who need to experience Christ by name. 3. Eventually you'll invite another to join you, but when you have 4 people meeting regularly for a few weeks, split into two groups, and continue the pattern.
This seems like an easy thing, but I believe many of us will be faced with some realizations early on in the process. First, many of us have relegated our experience of God to a "what He did in my life once upon a time". The regular meeting and accountability questions found in such conversations forces us to either confess our inactive faith in an Active God, or name what we believe God is working through our lives. Second, most of us wouldn't hide the fact that our usual diet of scripture (read as the Word from God, not as something to be studied) is much less than 20 chapters a week. But to challenge ourselves to read more than we think we can handle (but can actually be accomplished in about 30 minutes a day or less), forces us to be open to full-context Words from God that can actually apply to our lives without needing a commentary or even a pastor to always explain it to us.
The potential for these intimate, self-sustaining, Spirit-led, naturally multiplying groups targeting actual life-transformation, and encouraging the continued life-transformation of those "already on board" seems like a pretty sweet thing. The idea is that there is a world-wide church, with local bodies, with ministries/small groups, made up of life transformation groups. If you're interested, I'd definitely recommend giving the book a read, and maybe even throwing a few at others who want something more intimate than their small group currently provides.
Now I just need to find a guy who really really wants God to change his life alongside me...my guess is he doesn't read my blog. :)
Church For The Unwelcomed
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