A few weeks back I asked a pointed question about relational evangelism on the Facebook page for small group leaders, hosted by one of the most prominent small group pastors and authors in the nation. He's not in the cell group stream, but the small group stream. I know this man and have a lot of respect for him and the church where he pastors. They water baptize small group members every single Sunday after services and have a solid discipleship pathway for new believers to follow. So I was hoping that this Facebook page would be filled with other small groups pastors who were replicating the health I see in his church.
I was careful to craft my question by asking if any of the 2000+ small group point persons who represent that page were seeing relational evangelism going on in their small groups and considered this "normal or ordinary" behavior (versus something that happened now and then or was extra-ordinary).
I clarified my question by stating that I was not referring "bring a friend Sunday" programs or inviting friends to big church services (not that there's anything wrong with this and I hope your church is doing it). I just wanted to get down to brass tacks: Are there any U.S. churches where relational evangelism is the way the local church is growing, verses crowd evangelism efforts?
After two days of zero responses, I replied to my own question, asking if the silence on the subject was as deafening to everyone else as it was to me. One small groups pastor replied saying they would love for this to be the norm, but it's not happening despite their best efforts on a leadership level.
It's not as if no one uses this Facebook page
Posts are made daily asking about campaigns that work best, training for hosts, best ways to get the visitors and congregations to sign up for a group, etc. And many others are answering them. But ask a question about relational evangelism and it's as if someone cut off the power to every small group pastor's laptop in the nation!
America, we have a problem!
First, we saw lots of smaller churches close their doors or become satellite locations for megachurches with a shiny lead pastor and his incredible way with words when on a mic in the pulpit. Then we saw most every megachurch look, feel, sound, smell, and taste the same no matter which denomination they belong to or where they're located as they copied what others were doing that was so attractive and retentive.
The hallmark of these big multi-site churches is being very good at pleasing the consumer Christian (if I may use this oxymoron). They've got amazing programs for children and youth and lots of self-help and self-improvement programs, which aren't bad in and of themselves. They just seem to keep people from seeing their primary purpose on earth front and center: to magnify the Lord Jesus Christ to everyone around them and anyone who will listen!
If you're reading this, for the love of God, help your small group members learn how to be a friend and reach a friend for Christ and disciple that person! This must become our driving passion in small group and cell group ministry in this country!