To all of the observations in the last post, I would like to add one more that I believe is usually missed: evangelism is a team sport. In fact, when you look at the Biblical metaphor of the lost person as a “slave” to the world, evangelism is more like a prison break. If you were to break someone out of prison, you would very unlikely do it all on your own. You would develop a plan, marshall your resources, and spring the person out. I suggest that we do the same thing. This is what I’m going to call strategic evanglism. Now this does not mean that I think we should “love bomb” people like a cult does, where you send a bunch of people around to act real nice and suck them into something that isn’t really that nice. What it means is that whenever a member starts to have a response from someone that they know or have met, we should leverage the resources of the entire community to identify the best way to bring them over the finish line.
If you’ve done any level of evangelism at all, you know that getting people to ask Christ into their lives is just one step on what can be a rocky road. In the prison, what stops you from getting out? Guards. In real life the guards are Bad relationships and personal demons. Once you start to break someone out of the prison, these guards will do everything they can to get them back, and let’s be honest — too often they are successful. When you start reaching out to someone you have thrown down the guantlet with the devil. It’s not time to play paddy cake, it’s time to win. The steps above will get you “live” people that want more, but how do you get them from interested to committed? Here are the elements of strategic evanglism.
- Strategy – Convene an “assessment team.” This group, comprised of a leader, the outreacher, others with evangelistic gifts, and an intercessor, should discuss where the person is.
- War of Ideas – Identify what resources would be most appropriate for reaching this person. Today there are mountains of resources out there that speak to almost anyone on the planet. There are resources very specific to football lovers, baseball lovers, unbelieving Jews, belieivng Jews, military types, muslims, atheists, etc, etc. Don’t use a bazooka when you could use a rifle. You should identify and purchase the books, movies, tapes, etc, that will directly touch the people you are reaching out to.
- War of Materiale – Identify their needs and see if someone can help to meet them. Sometimes a person has an obvious needs. If you can help to meet this need, their heart will soften.
- Air War – Pray. I don’t just mean a couple of “please God” prayers while you are falling asleep. I mean that the person who is reaching out to them needs to pray for their soul, believing that God will bring it from death to life. I also mean that the intercessors of the churchneed to take this to God and wrestle for this person’s soul. If you win in the Spirit, things will happen in the natural.
- Ground War – Identify what other people would be most helpful in reaching the person. A lost person will usually be glad to meet another Christian before they are willing to come to a church. Is there anyone in your church that they really should meet? If they are really academic, maybe there is an academic type in your church. If they do manual labor, maybe there is someone who does that as well… Who are the people in your church that will connect with this person possibly even better than the person who initially reached out to them.
- Prison Break – Bring them into the community. At a certain point, it’s time to get them in the doors of the church or house group. This needs to be a place where they will hear the saving Gospel. Do not have a meeting where you bring unbelievers but do not preach the Gospel. People fall through the cracks because the Sunday they came the message was on the second toenail of the left foot of the beast. It’s even better if it is a place where you have deep and poewrful worship. God moves on people in the worship. Your congregation should do more than greet these visitors. They pray in their hearts for their salvation. I remember when a friend of mine brought a Jewish girl to church. Because I was invested in the process, I prayed that our Jewish pastor would mention in this sermon his Jewish roots, and he did! As soon as this happened, her head went up and at the end of the meeting she went down to altar to get saved and was very interested in the Jewish aspect. What a difference the prayer can make!
Once they give their lives to Christ, the job is not over. In fact, many are lost in this phase, because the enemy will now send out a “team” to bring them back into the prison. And believe me, if you’ve ever worked with these situations it gets to the place where it’s totally obvious. They are going along fine and then the old girlfriend that broke his heart 9 years ago calls up and wants to get back together, or the father forbids them to come back to school. Basically any area where the enemy has control, he will use it to try to manipulate the person back into the world. He will pull every string of weakness, and use a variety of unbelievers to drag the person back into the prison. What can we do? The first thing we have to do is be aware that this is really what is going on. When you break out of prison the alarm sounds. The same things happens here. The enemy wants them back. Plan to win. This involves a series of new steps.
- The Real Gospel – When you get them saved, make it very clear that they are turning control over of their life to Jesus and that they are turning away from a life of sin. If you do not include this, people will respond to your offer that are not ready to proceed with God. You need the right foundation to proceed.
- Deliverance and Inner Healing – Right away when someone is saved you want to break as many chains as possible. Have a team whose job it is to meet with people. They need to be specially trained. After the person responds to Jesus the person who reached out to them should explain that there is a team in the church that is specially trained to help them get freedom from the various areas where they have struggled, break their ties with the world, and make them firm with God. The team should be ready to work with them right after the service if the person is willing and able, and if not by appointment as soon after as possible. The person needs to renounce their ties to the various schemes of the devil. Take them as far as possible, and be prepared to show from the Scripture what is going on. This preempts the demonic “prison guards”
- Physical Healing – Do not neglect to offer Physical Healing. Their faith is high and God is ready to meet their every need.
- Baptism with the Holy Spirit – If you get this far, offer the person the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Explain how now that you have removed all of the other things that were in their life something needs to take their place. The same faith that got them saved will manifest in the speaking of tongues.
- Baptism with Water – In many churches baptisms happen much later. In the New Testament they happen right away. This is where the power is. Find a way to have a water baptism in the presence of others as soon as possible.
- Testimony – Telling others what God has done for them is an important part of breaking free from the world, and it’s an important part of being certain of what happened to them. They should tell the congregation what God has done for them, and they should also tell their friends and family what God has done for them. This will push some away and draw some closer. This preempts the relationship “prison guards”
- Fellowship – You can’t have people getting born again and hoping that they will make it through a week to come back again. Could you imagine doing that with a baby that was just born? They need some fellowship. The team that has been reaching out to them should make a point of hanging out with them, and bringing other people too. If there is some kind of mid-week activity to bring them to all the better.
- Instruction – They need the foundations of truth while they are open to them. Get them in the Bible right away. The book of Matthew is good because it gives a foundation of Christian morality and belief. In addition, use a foundations manual of some kind to start to lay a firm foundation in tricky areas.
This is a lot and it is intense. It’s supposed to be. This creates radical New Testament converts, and it creates major disarray in the devil’s kingdom. In all of this, I suggest moving as fast as there is grace to do. In other words, if can do a lot on the first day and week, that’s great, you’ll get a huge amount power out of it. Encourage and help But DO NOT FORCE. They need to make the choice to take each step on their own. If you push them over their will, you’re getting cultish and you’re ultimately hurting them. When you break out one person like this, the disarray it creates for the devil and power it channels from God will break out others and now it’s starting to look like and old time Holy Ghost revival. Praise the Lord!