Go & Tell: just for the gifted?
In a previous article, I described how, at Dundonald Church, we frame our evangelistic ministry and content around two spheres: Go & Tell, and Come & See.
However, when it comes to equipping the church family to Go & Tell, it’s not long before you run into obstacles. Don’t get me wrong, there are some individuals who have a particular gift and character for evangelism, and they don’t need much by way of prompting to go and tell the gospel. But perhaps for the majority, being asked to Go & Tell just seems like something best left for the ‘elite’ evangelists – not for them. The thought of doing a one-to-one, starting a conversation at work or the school gate, or, heaven forbid, knocking on a neighbour’s door, is just not going to happen.
Lowering the bar: getting everyone involved!
This is where it helps to lower the bar, as we seek to equip the church to go and tell.
Now – don’t misread this – that’s not to say that the message of the gospel is being watered down. Absolutely not. Rather, it’s about intentionally exploring ways of lowering the bar so that every member of the church feels as though they can at least have a go at going and telling, which can help to develop a healthy culture of evangelism across the church.
Here are a few practical ways we’ve sought to do that at the church in which I serve:
Door-knocking for everyone
For most people, the thought of knocking on doors on their street and inviting neighbours to church brings them out in a cold sweat.
So to try and lower the bar, we run a termly door-knocking day or evening, where the whole church family is invited to get involved. We have a certain patch of local streets that we aim to cover, and we’ll always time it so that it’s just before an event or series of events that the church is running so that those knocking on doors have an easy way of beginning a conversation.
Typically, I base myself in a local coffee-shop or park – somewhere central to the streets we’re trying to reach, for a set window of time – and encourage church family to turn up just for 30 minutes.
They would be invited to come with their small group or family members, and I then allocate them maybe 20 houses or so, and send them as a pair or small group to knock on those doors. Before going out they’ll be given some top tips, including a rough idea of how a simple conversation might go: a ‘Hello and how are you?’ an invitation to the event, and a ‘We hope to see you soon!’ That’s all it is – lowering the bar.
And, praise God, it’s been working well. We have begun to move from door-knocking being a niche activity for the super-keen, to having 80–90 different people from church turn up to have a go in the last two years, including many who’d never even thought about doing door-knocking before. And it bears fruit – as a result we have new people in our church who only started coming along because church family went and knocked on their door.
Often, the thought of going and telling can seem terrifying – and almost impossible – because we expect to be shut-down or written off as a lunatic before we can even get to box three of Two Ways to Live.
Given the secular age that we find ourselves in – without much, if any, understanding of a Christian worldview – it’s worth investing time trying to equip the church family to get on with the task of pre-evangelism. By that, I mean encouraging church family to ask questions of their friends – to put little stones in their shoes – which help disrupt their secular way of thinking and which can pave the way for a gospel conversation or an invitation to an event, further down the track.
And in fact, by training church family to listen and ask questions of their friends – by way of pre-evangelism – what you’ll find is that people aren’t so terrified of beginning a conversation anymore. It’s less threatening, it leads to more natural dialogue, and often, a more fruitful one – as soil is better prepared for gospel seeds to be sown.
Here are some key books that would be worth reading to help in the training of your church in pre-evangelism:
You might also like to check out and run some APFL training sessions for your church, such as:
Bible conversation starters
Though it is worth investing time in door-knocking for everyone, and pre-evangelism training, what we want most is for unbelievers to be shown Jesus, in the pages of the Bible.
As such, at Dundonald, we wanted to equip every member of the church family to be able to have a look at a bit of the Bible with a non-Christian friend. However, that required lowering the bar. Because whilst there are some great one-to-one resources out there, we wanted to have something that didn’t require any training and that could just function as a conversation starter with a friend, about the person of Jesus, from a gospel narrative.
That led us to produce these little booklets called A Better Hero and A Better Life – four very short passages from Mark or John’s Gospel accounts, with 3 conversation-starter questions. They are deliberately designed to just help stimulate a 5-minute chat with a friend, that’s all; the on-ramp to something else, such as The Word One to One or a Christianity Explored course. In God’s kindness, it’s been encouraging to see lots of conversations being started as a result.
There we go. Three ways we’re seeking to lower the bar to enable more people across our church family to go & tell. You’ll undoubtedly be able to think of many more that fit with your context – I’d love to hear what they are!