"CONGREGATIONAL EVANGELISM"
 
We must understand that evangelism is supposed to be the main goal of ever congregation. As Jesus said to disciples, 
 

Matthew 28:18 "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.

 

So without a doubt we should always be thinking of ways that we can reach out to others. There are certainly many ways to evangelize such as public preaching, teaching, private studies and through everyday conversations. Then there is always TV, radio, the internet and other ways. While some of these methods work great in one area sometimes they fail inothers you just have to test the waters to see what works best in any given area.

 
The method of Evangelism I want to talk about today is best described "Congregational
Evangelism" Now this term could be used describe any given work or resource that the local church can use to further the kingdom of God. I will like to offer some suggestions in this lesson that could possibly help us grow here at Lone Grove using Congregational Evangelism. 
 
Now each one us in the room know people that no else does and we know whether they are Christians are not. What we need to do is write down at least 6 peopleís names that have not obeyed the gospel. Then we need to make an effort as a congregation to pray for these people and to do what we can to help putting Godís Word before them. We can do this in many ways. We can go visit these people and ask them for a Bible study or invite them to church. We can send the information about Godís church through the mail. But, we must be persistent to follow-up because many times we give someone some information then we donít bother to asking them what they thought about it. So, donít forget to make a list of possible contacts so that we can start working on those people. 
 
 Another thing that we must do to make congregational evangelism effective is to make sure that we encourage one another individually to use our abilities and talents to help the church grow. I donít care who you are in this congregation, every single one of you has some ability or talent that can be used to help grow Godís kingdom. Some of you may be good at teaching while other may be good at speaking to others and encouraging them. Whatever your talent may be, its important that you use it instead of hiding it or just letting it go to waste. So, its important that ever member have something they can do. 
 
I want to share with you an example I have used before in the past and I will continue to use in the future. This example comes from a lady who was paralyzed from the neck down. Although severely handicapped she faced each day with a positive attitude. You could see her running around Ardmore from time to time in her automated wheel chair she controlled with her mouth. She was a faithful member of the church and she attended at the Maxwell congregation. She very rarely missed a service. One of the talents she had that made impression on people including me was her drive and determination to make it to Bible class and to the worship service. She didnít live very far from the church so she drove her wheel chair down the road to the church and you can just imagine the amount people who saw her from their homes and their cars. Itís not everyday that you see a paralyzed person zooming done the street. In her own way she was evangelizing because the people that saw here knew that she was going to church and how important it must have been to her. 
 
I wish every Christian had the same passion for being here at every Bible study and worship service. Which brings us to our next thing that we can do as congregation and that is to be faithful in our attendance. When people see about the same amount of cars on Sunday morning and Sunday night and Wednesday night this will get the attention of people driving by. It impressive when you see entire congregations that are made up of individuals who love the lord enough to assemble with the saints at every opportunity they have. When people observe how dedicated a congregation is its attendance it will spark their curiosity and possible lead them to attend our services to check out why everyone is so dedicated.
 
However a negative view can be given when their a bunch of cars on Sunday Morning and then less than half on Sunday night or Wednesday night are there. Now I looked the attendance rate at other congregations and it pretty common to see the Sunday night and Wednesday night numbers to drop below 50 % compared to Sunday morning. One good thing say is that we at Lone Grove are better than the average as our numbers average about 68% on Sunday and Wednesday Night. Certainly we have room to improve but at least the majority of us are making it to all the services. If we Love God and our brethren we shouldnít miss opportunities to worship God or to be around our brothers and sister in Christ. Besides this we are commanded to do so,
 

Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.††

 

Another important avenue of congregation evangelism has to do with the impression that we leave on people. So we must make sure that we are conducting our worship service is such away that is not confusing which means we must organize and conduct our worship service according to pattern of God and not according to the pattern of men. We can see an example of this in 1 Cort. 14. Now the example we are going to look at is talking about the miraculous which is no longer available to us today but we will still see how this applies to us today.

 

1 Corinthians 14:23 Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind?24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all.25 And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.

 

Here Paul shows the difference between 2 methods available in the 1st century. The first method was speaking in tongues and this was not some gibberish this was an actual language. This was really effective when a Christian would go to a new area where they did not know their language but the Holy Spirit would give them the ability to preach the gospel to that group in their own language. However if this was done in church where everyone spoke Greek and people began to preach in some other language it would be meaningless to that church.

 

But if someone prophesied and revealed the sin of that person heart then they would truly be convicted and this would make a positive out come. We can see how this applies to us today in that many time we only have one opportunity to make a good impression to reach a lost soul and so it imperative that we conduct our worship service in an orderly manner. Again watch as Paul points this out as we continue in,

 

1 Corinthians 14:26 How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret.28 But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God.29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.30 But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent.31 For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged.32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.33 For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. ††

 

Since the God is not the author of confusion and if we follow his plan than our worship service should not be confusing to others. Also the speaker of hour should preach a message that has meaning and that it easy to understand. Sometimes a preacher who highly educated will present a lesson that goes over everyoneís head which becomes ineffective and it can run off a visitor because they simply couldnít understand the message. Every speaker should be like Jesus who was able to talk to common folk and they had no problem understanding his message.

 

We need our song leader to choose songs that are preaching the truth as well. The power of music in many times underestimated but I can tell you that the singing and types of songs that are selected can favorable impress the visitor. I know of several people that were at Joe Hunterís funeral that really thought a lot of the beautiful singing. Most people donít realize how beautiful singing can be when it not accompanied by a musical instrument. So, we can certainly leave a positive impression by singing with enthusiasm and feeling. When a visitor sees that everyone sings and when they hear the words that are being sung it will certainly have a positive effect on them.

 

When the men lead prayer we need remember that it not important how eloquent a prayer is but that it comes from the heart because when your prayer come from the heart it will show the sincerity you have in praying to God.

 

Another thing that is important is how we are listening. If a visitor looks around and sees people reading the newspaper or some other material or sees someone constantly talking to the person beside them this will become distracting and make a negative influence on them. We have plenty of time to read and talk outside the assembly and so we should all be focused in on the Bible study or worship service. When we do this not only will we benefit from it, it will also make a positive influence on the visitor.

 

Another important key in congregation evangelism is to make it your priority to talk to a new visitor and make them feel welcome. Some of the worst impression I have experienced from a congregation is when not one soul talked to me or my family. If we donít want someone to feel wanted then simply ignore them and I can promise that wonít come back. The more people that show they care and take notice that they were there will make a huge difference on the victorís experience at the congregation.

 

Another thing we need to keep in mind is many times a visitor will get here early and leave early so it would behoove us to get here early as well so that we can have an opportunity to visit with them. This is one area that we need to improve on here at Lone Grove. Now I know that things happen that slow us down sometimes but most of the time we should be able to get here at least 5 min before our service starts. I know that it can be done because I doubt very many of us are late for jobs or late for a movie that we want to go see. So, lets try to improve in this area because it can make negative influence on a potential new member if they see so many arriving late for the service. It also important that we be watchful. If we see a visitor by themselves we must each make a effort to make our way over to them. Invite them to sit with you and explain to them where the nursery and bathrooms are.

 

Another thing we can do as a congregation after services is to invite these visitors to eat with us before they make their way out the door. This would give us an opportunity to get to know them better and for them to see that we are concerned for them and want to get to know them better.

 

Now many times when we think of evangelism we think of reaching out to the lost. But, another thing I want to include with congregation evangelism is looking for one another as well. Those who fall away need just as much saving as those who have never accepted Christ. Notice how Paul describes the church in,

 

1 Corinthians 12:12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body -- whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free -- and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.14 For in fact the body is not one member but many.15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body?16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body?17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling?18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be?20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you."22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty,24 but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it,25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.

 

Godís church is one body made up of individual members. Now think about this. If went to bed being a whole person and then you woke up the next morning and your nose was missing what would your reaction be when you looked in the mirror? You would be horrified and you wonder what in the world has happened to your nose. The same thing would be true with any of your body parts. If woke missing a leg or arm you would notice and it would concern you. This is what Paul is trying to convey here as he compares the church to that of a body. If one of our members is missing we should notice and we should start asking where is our nose, leg or our arm. If one of us notice someone missing we should start asking others if they know where they are so that we can find our why they gone. We should not assume that someone else is taking care of this we should act when we notice them being gone and we should get others involved to seek out that missing person from the body of Christ.

 

When we show such care a love toward one another it will strengthen the church and it will have a positive influence on us and those around us.

 

Now congregational evangelism will only work if you and I dedicate ourselves as individuals to more evangelistic. Because if we donít use our resources or invite people to our services than our efforts will only reach a small few that just happen to come to our congregation on their own. That is why its imperative that we as individuals must create the opportunities for the lost to hear the Word of God.

 
Let us do our best to our resources as congregation and work toward inviting people to our services and making sure that we conduct our services according to Godís Word. Letís try and make to the services early and make to every service possible. We must put our visitors first and try to get to know them and finally we need look out for another. I truly believe if we will do these things as a congregation that I have described in this lesson that we will be successful in leading more people to Christ here at Lone Grove.