In January of 2015, a young lady came to visit Ellen and I and shared how she had first heard about Jesus from a friend. She had visited the church on and off, but recently was getting a lot of push back from her Hindu family. From now on she didn’t want to give in any longer. She wasn’t going to miss any more Sundays, and instead she wanted to know how to get baptized.
Normally we would have been excited about this young lady’s emerging commitment to Christ. But we had just finished reading the book Contagious Disciple Making. In the chapter called Engage Lost People, David Watson and his son Paul introduce a concept of evangelism they call Disciple Making Evangelism or Community Evangelism.
- Community Evangelism encourages discipleship within existing families and communities.
- By contrast, most churches practice Extraction Evangelism which removes new believers from their existing community to become part of a new, mixed community that we call the church.
This was exactly what we had seen for years in our church and may other churches. Sometimes the family pressure was too much. Sometimes the strangeness of the new community was too big a barrier. Sometimes the influence of Christ in thier lives was more powerful than any obstacle. But one way or the other there was usually a big break.
Was it possible to approach things in a way that was more sensitive to the family and their community, and yet still true to Jesus?
Ellen and I decided to experiment with Community Evangelism. We had met the young ladies mom at a social event a few months earlier, so we asked, “What would you think of asking your mom if she would be open to Ellen and I coming over for tea one evening to help you share some of the things you are learning about Jesus?”
Over the next four weeks Ellen and I led this young lady, her mom, and her older brother through a brief Discovery Bible Study following the pattern of Creation to Christ. Each week we would spend time socializing for a little while, and then we would read a short story from Genesis that we had printed out. Then I would lead us through some simple questions to help them discover the significance of the story and consider how it might apply to thier lives. Each week I would close in prayer, and then we would enjoy dessert together.
After four weeks it was time for Ellen and I to return to the US, so we weren’t able to continue the Discover Bible Study as long as we would have liked to. The great news is that almost two years later her mom is continuing to grow in her understanding of Christ. She hasn’t come to Christ yet, but she is very close. And her family has stopped pressuring her to quit attending the church and has accepted her new faith!
WHAT WOULD IT LOOK LIKE IF INSTEAD OF TRYING TO GET PEOPLE TO COME TO CHURCH, WE FOCUSED ON TRAINING THE CHURCH TO GO OUT INTO THE COMMUNITY TO LEAD SMALL GROUPS OF INTERESTED PEOPLE IN DISCOVERY BIBLE STUDIES?