If you want your group to be outward looking, the list is a powerful tool.
In CMA's Life Transformation Groups, each person makes a list of three to four people who are not followers of Jesus that they commit to pray for daily.
In T4T, each person is encouraged to make a list of all the not-yet-believers that they know, and divide them into groups of five. Each week, they pick a group and having prayed for them, try to tell their story to each person.
Do you have a list of people you know who are either not-yet-believers or who are not walking closely with the Lord?
It's easier to think through the people you know by looking at your circles of influence:
- The people closest to you: your family and closest friends. They don't have to live near you, but maybe you are in email contact with them. This week I offered to pray for a niece who isn't a believer and prayed for her via a facebook message.
- People from work: who do you know from work who is not following the Lord? The company president? The person who cleans the building? Your colleagues?
- Social acquaintances–people whose names you know and who know your name. Parents of those on your kid's basketball team? People in your neighborhood?
- Casual contacts, people you recognize but don't know their names. Your mailman, the girl behind the counter of the coffee shop where you get your morning caffeine fix.
Practical application: Have the people in your group spend 15 minutes creating a list of all the people they know who are not following Jesus. Suggest they commit to praying for them and if possible, telling them their story.
In one of the last posts, I looked at why it is important for inward-looking groups to become outward focused. Here are some ideas that might help:
- Spend time as a church asking God to give you his heart for missions and the people around you.
- Brainstorm around what unreached groups of people are in your city (think outside the box. We're not talking nationalities here, but people groupings such as skateboarders, those in AA meetings etc) Does anyone in the church have a natural contact in any of those groups?
- God is Lord of the harvest, and he has a strategy for your area. Ask Him to lead you into the harvest. Is there a specific group he is leading you to reach out to? He'll show you where to go!
- Think about which (non church-related) groups each person in your church has a natural affinity with. What hobbies or interests groups are represented? Meetup.com may lead you to some groups in your area.
- Are there older kids/teenagers in your church. Reach out via them to their friends. We've started several churches that way.
- Train and equip the group to reach out. If there is a Greenhouse coming up in your area, plan to attend. There is also a 6 week church planting course with an emphasis on working with unbelievers under the Getting Started tab on the http://www.simplechurch.com site.
- Ask the police which are the most needy areas of your city (remember, Jesus came to bring sinners to repentance). Start praying for that area.
- Prayer walk an area of your city that Jesus shows you.
- When you have studied the Bible as a group, ask the question, "Which of my not-yet-Christian friends needs to hear about this?" Hold each other accountable to share with them.
- Practice telling the story of how you became a believer using no Christian jargon with each other. The stories should take only 3-4 minutes. Then each person in the group find several people to share their story with. The next week, share your experiences of what happened. In his book, Church Planting Movements, David Garrison recounts the story of "John" who worked with a group of farmers this way in rural China. Just over a year later, they had 900 churches with more than 12,000 new believers.
- Hang out at a place frequented by not-yet-believers such as your local coffee shop. Deliberately interact with some of them trying to develop friendships. (Remember people are not interested in becoming an evangelism project.)
- Get involved with a secular group that is trying to help some of the marginalized in your city (eg, the homeless or refugees)
Remember, when someone becomes a Christian, it's better to start something in their home and with their friends than to have them join you church.
What other ideas do you have?