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ENRICHMENT/APPENDIX:

CELL LEADER'S MANUAL

EVANGELISM COURSE:

EVANGELISTIC MEETINGS AND EVANGELISTIC COUNSELLING

GEM 1995, this rev. Dec. 2002


CONTENTS:

CONTEXT

1.          Evangelistic Campaigns

2.    Praying for and Inviting People

3.      The Evangelistic Meeting

4.      Counselling and Follow-Up

5.      Follow-up Appointments

ACTIVITY/ASSIGNMENT


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CONTEXT: Evangelism lies at the heart of the church’s work.  First and foremost, it is the gospel that is the basis for finding Eternal Life: that new, transforming quality of life based right relationship with God through his Saviour, Jesus the Christ[1]:

“No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven--the Son of Man.  Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.  This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God." [John 3:13 – 21, emphases added.]

Eternal life also leads to a transformed way of living that in turn promotes godly reformation and blessing in the community at large, towards filling it with Christ’s glory and grace.  As Paul instructed Titus, a leader of the early church in the then proverbially decadent society of Crete:

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.

But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.  [Titus 2:11 – 3:8, emphases added; cf. 1 Peter 4:1 – 11, 2 Peter 1:1 – 11 & 1 John 1:5 – 3:24.]

Thus, evangelism is a God-ordained means to repentance, renewal, revival and reformation in the community, as Jesus works to fill all things through his body, the Church.[2]  It is therefore appropriate to consider how we may attack this task in an organised way in a community or an institution such as a campus or a school or an office.


1.                  Evangelistic Campaigns

Organised evangelism approaches may range from a discussion and prayer circle in an office, a campus dorm or Apartment, through a carefully developed sustained Missionary campaign to bring the gospel to a people-group who have never heard it before.

 However, here in the Caribbean, much of the church’s evangelistic effort is focussed on Evangelistic Meetings, that may take the form of open-air gospel presentations, or meetings in a church building, or even a cultural presentation such as a concert or play. 

Such meetings give us a strong focus on the gospel and its life- and community-transforming impact.  They make it “easy” to invite people to come and hear or see a presentation of the gospel, and may trigger opportunities for discussing the Saviour with those who it might not be otherwise disposed to discuss the gospel with us.  Training in preparation for such meetings also helps us to sharpen our understanding and renew our commitment to live a sound Christian life.

Perhaps most importantly, the campaign gives a focus to collective and individual prayer for those who have lost their way, and are wandering away from God amidst the many spiritual tangles, traps and dangers that lie off the “straight and narrow way.”

Clearly then, if we are to make the best use of such an opportunity, we must learn how to best pray for and approach people, invite them to a meeting, how to share the gospel with them, how to help people to receive Christ as Lord and Saviour, and how to help them find a solid foundation for life as a Christian.



2.         Praying for and Inviting People

Plainly, the main purpose of an evangelistic meeting is to share Christ with those who do not as yet have a life-transforming personal relationship with him.  Therefore, we must pray for and invite people to such meetings, or they will simply miss their mark.

Organised prayer can operate at three main levels: the church can pray as a body; groups can pray in a more focused, interactive way, and individual Christians can pray.  It is best when all three happen together, especially if each person is asked to prayerfully identify a few specific people he or she would wish to invite, and prays for them by name, perhaps as part of the daily quiet time.

Then, based on the power of the God who hears and answers prayer [1 John 5:14 – 15], we can go out to invite those who we believe God has placed a special burden for on our hearts. 

As we do so, it is helpful to consider the following questions (which we may want to discuss in small groups):

·         Why do people attend or refuse to come to evangelistic meetings?

·         What are the roadblocks that come to mind as we think about inviting people to such meetings?

·         What can we do to remove the blocks – who should we try to invite, why would they wish to come, what action steps can we take to see to it that they do come?

·         How can we tell if it is wise/not appropriate to present the gospel in outline when we invite people to a meeting?

·         What would such an outline presentation look like?


3.      The Evangelistic Meeting

An evangelistic meeting aims to present the good news about Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, and invites a definite response to his message. 

That message speaks of Jesus, the one who came from Heaven in love for a lost and sin-defiled world; taught, healed and delivered from spiritual bondage and deception; died for sin in our place; and rose again as Lord with power to save, transform and deliver us from the penalty, power and ultimately the presence of sin.  As people, communities and their leaders respond to this message, the Spirit of God liberates, renews and transforms individuals, families, organisations and communities, bringing the blessing of Abraham to all nations.  [Cf. Gal 3:14.] 

Having presented the gospel, an evangelistic meeting then calls for a definite act of surrender, commitment to Christ, and decision to follow him as Lord and Saviour: as individuals, families, organisations and communities.

The most obvious events in such a meeting, then, will be the presentation of the gospel in a way that relates to those present, and a call for a response to the Christ who is our Lord and Saviour.  But equally, those who pray for people, invite them, counsel with them, and help them consolidate their commitment also play vital – though sometimes not so visible -- roles.  Evangelism is a corporate effort of the church.

Therefore, in organising such a meeting, several points must be worked out carefully:

·         Prayer and preparation, including training sessions, but also times of reflection and renewal of vision and commitment for the members and leaders of the church.

·         Support for organised prayer and invitations, including how to show guests that easy hospitality that makes them comfortable in our company.

·         Punctuality and general respect for time, especially in meetings.

·         The quality, relevance, spirituality and soundness of music, song, drama and other items in the programme for the meetings.  Such items should set the stage for presenting the gospel in simple and relevant ways, leading to an invitation to respond. 

·         Consider: do we always need to use a sermon? Are there other ways that may be more effective in some situations, such as a time for discussions, or a panel presentation, or a video or multimedia slide show?

·         Is the taking of an offering liable to “put a price tag on the gospel”?  [What about an offering for the needy in the community?  If such is done, how will it be accounted for, to show that it has been used for this purpose?]

·         What are the main issues or events that are on the minds of the community? How, then can the gospel message be tailored to these concerns, without compromising its integrity?  [Who then, can best present it?]

·         How will the call for response to the gospel, counselling and follow-up be organised? [What about those who typically hang around the edges of a meeting?]

·         What about special attention to families, the poor, and organisation or community leaders, to help them bring to bear the reforming and transforming power of the gospel in their situation?




4.      Counselling and Follow-Up

When people respond to the gospel in a meeting, they are often full of questions and inner conflicts – some of which they may not be able to put into words.  Even with those who know exactly what they need to do, a well-prepared counsellor provides a listening ear and help in working through the steps and personal (or sometimes intellectual) issues that may be at stake.

A look at steps, skills and appropriate tone is helpful:

·         First, establish contact.  Prayer, a comforting smile or touch, or the exchange of greetings and names [if you don’t already know each other] may all be helpful.

·         Second, clarify and agree on the specific purpose of the counselling.  Since enquirers are often highly emotional, a few calming words may be helpful.  Once conversation is possible, find out why the person has “come forward.”  Often, a gentle “I’m a counsellor, and would like to help you,” or similar words, may be enough.  However, it may be necessary to ask a few simple questions so that both of you can agree about what is needed.  (What are some possible questions that would help here?)

·         One way to do this, is to review the basic points of the gospel, perhaps using a simple outline:


The Gospel: Bridging the Sin Gap



·        
Having reviewed the gospel, pointing out the basis for forgiveness of sins and renewal of life, invite a response.  Perhaps, “Do you wish to receive Jesus as your Lord and Saviour now?” should help.

·         If the response is “Yes,” lead the person through the sinner’s prayer.  This may require some explanation of what is in the prayer, and how it works.  [How can you help the enquirer understand the purpose for the prayer, and how it works?  What should be in such a prayer, why?]

·         Once this has been done, it is wise to help the enquirer clarify whether he/she knows the grounds on which God accepts a repentant sinner, and whether his/her sins are forsaken and forgiven through faith in Christ.  [NB: People often struggle with the key point that the basis for salvation is our trusting Christ, based on the promise of God as recorded in his Word.]

·         Further counselling will be necessary – or perhaps the person’s problem is post-conversion: a besetting sin, doubts and issues, life-challenges, or similar concerns.  If there are pressing issues or challenges, it may be wise to spend time to deal with them right away.  However, in any case there is a need to set up a series of follow-up sessions to deal with solidifying the foundation for Christian life and service in the family, church, school, workplace and community.  [What are the points that a programme of such appointments should cover?  In general?  In this case?]

·         As a rule, one should get back in touch with an enquirer within forty-eight – or better, twenty-four – hours, as further problems may surface soon after making a commitment or re-commitment to Christ.

·         Sometimes, the issues an enquirer raises are “too much to handle.”  In such a case, discreetly signal for an Advisor to come to your assistance, having indicated to the enquirer that such further help is necessary, and is being sought.  In such a case, it is usually wise to request permission or agreement for you to do so.




5.      Follow-up Appointments

Follow-up – the initial nurturing of a young disciple – is vital, but is often neglected.  This is one reason why many Christians find themselves frustrated in their attempts to progress in their lives and service in the community.

Matt. 28:18 – 20, and Acts 2:37 – 47, outline a more effective framework.  Having read these passages, consider the following:

·         Why should we view ourselves as called to disciple the nations?

·         In light of Matt 28:19 – 20, and Titus 2:11 – 14, what are the marks of such discipleship?

·         How would such a discipleship lifestyle express itself today in our individual lives, families, and communities?

·         In light of Acts 2:37 – 47, 2 Tim 3:14 – 17, Heb. 10:19 - 25 and Titus 2:11 – 14, what action-steps should a new disciple take to lay a sound foundation for spiritual growth and maturity?

·         What are the key regular habits that should be developed?

·         How, then can a follow-up programme help an enquirer lay a foundation for living as a disciple of Christ?

·         Given all of the above, what points, concerns and issues should follow-up meetings cover?

·         How frequently should such meetings be held?

·         Who should meet with the enquirer – should there be one-on one and small-group sessions?

·         What about church membership?

·         How should major problems -- such as serious family or workplace conflict or psychological disorders or major spiritual and intellectual challenges -- be handled?

·         How can such a follow-up programme be tied into the ongoing life and activities of a church?

·         What about the onward work of supporting new disciples as they set about serving God in their families, the church, schools/workplaces, and the community at large?




ACTIVITY/ASSIGNMENT:
Based on the above points and your discussions, develop a plan for an outreach programme.  It should cover preparation of the current church members and leaders, implementation of the programme of meetings, follow-up support, and the bridge to onward life and work in family, church, school/workplace, and community.  How could you implement it?


[1] Cf. John 3:14 – 17 & John 17:3, which defines eternal life.

[2] Cf. Eph. 1:17 – 23, 4:11 –16 & 4:17 – 5:24.  Of course, in some cases, communities (especially their leaders) reject the gospel and attack those who bear witness to it.  This in no way releases us from our global evangelistic mandate, but it doies mean that such communities may have chosen, not to be filled with God’s grace and blessing, but with what Rev. 6:16 terms “the wrath of the Lamb.”