This is part 11 of a series of posts from David Francis’ Transformational Class: Transformational Church Goes to Sunday School . Click here for a free download of the book, as well as training materials to help you present the material to your leaders.
- Transformational Church Goes to Sunday School
- Missionary Mentality, Part One
- Missionary Mentality, Part Two
- Vibrant Leadership
- Two Key Principles: Open Groups Practicing Open Enrollment
- Relational Intentionality
- How Care Group Leaders Model Relational Intentionality
- The Absolute Necessity of Prayer Before, During, And After Small Group
- Prayer Requests: The Best Indicator of a Transformational Class
- How does Worship Impact a Transformational Small Group?
This excerpt is adapted from Chapter 5, “Worship: Actively Embrace Jesus,” pages 32-33.
I can hear some of you objecting: “You dealt with the second assimilation problem you identified but not the first one—the one about the difficulty in getting people who accept Christ apart from the church and never come to make that decision public or get involved in the church’s disciple-making process.” I didn’t forget; I just saved it until last! Why? Because it is a point of personal frustration to me as well as to most churches. I may get in trouble here, but I’m going to say it anyway: I don’t think leading a stranger you never plan on seeing again to pray a prayer is the best way to make disciples. It happens. I’m grateful it does. I just don’t think it’s the best way. Or even the most biblical way.
For years, I’ve been schooled that the process of evangelism looks like this:
Conversation —–> Conversion —–> Community
In other words, the goal of a conversation with a person who is far from God is to lead them to a point of conversion, after which I try, perhaps desperately or perhaps not, to encourage them to get involved in Christian community. Again, that process works…sometimes. But not as often as we would hope. In fact, if we are really honest, it rarely happens that way. Does that mean we don’t witness to people? Of course not!
The goal of our witness—unless the Holy Spirit is clearly convicting the other person to believe and you to share—is to nudge a person who is far from God just a little closer to Him. I borrowed that idea from English evangelist Dennis Pethers. His burden is for America not to become a “post-Christian” society like “mother England.” Pethers has partnered in the production of an American version of the More to Life materials God has used so effectively across Great Britain. The first step in the process is to give a friend an inexpensive DVD containing the stories of people who’ve overcome great challenges to come to Jesus. The second step is to get them into a group where they hear and discuss four stories from John’s gospel.
The process is more like this:
Conversation —–> Community —–> Conversion
That’s the way Sunday School classes are designed to work, too. That’s why we practice open enrollment, allowing people to belong before they believe. When people enroll in Sunday School before making a decision to follow the Lord Jesus, guess what happens to the problem of assimilation? There’s not one! They’re already “in the church” when they come “in the kingdom of heaven!”
An important part of discipleship involves connecting through community. We’ll talk about that next week.
David Francis is Director of Sunday School at LifeWay Christian Resources. Before joining LifeWay in 1997, he served as minister of education at First Baptist Church in Garland, Texas. David and his wife, Vickie, love teaching preschool Sunday School and are helping start a new adult class in their church in Hendersonville, Tennessee.