In his book Church 3.0: Upgrades for the Future of the Church Neil Cole asks this question, “Why is it that when we consider ways to reach out to the lost we always plan events rather than using the natural relationships God has already given us?”
There are multiple advantages to a relational-based disciple making process. First “life-on-life” has higher impact because it’s uniquely connected to a disciple’s life journey. Second, it is more sensitive to the pace of a mentee’s faith formation experience. Third it provides modeling not just teaching. Finally, life-on-life is available to all churches regardless of size or budget.
A wonderful example of relational-based outreach is Sunlight Community Church (CRC) in Pt. St. Lucie, Florida. Through an emphasis on Gospel preaching and life-on-life disciple making they have celebrated nearly 600 people coming to faith in the past ten years.
Here are steps towards creating a relational-based outreach strategy.
TEACH ROMANS 15:14
Romans 15:14 says “I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another.” Paul’s good word is that we are already competent to instruct others in the faith. To disciple someone else we need only be one step ahead in trust, knowledge and obedience.
PROVIDE DISCIPLE-MAKING SKILLS TRAINING
With the challenge to relational-based disciple-making comes the responsibility to model and train. Contact the Lab (firstname.lastname@example.org) or leave a comment below for instructional materials being developed or join us for the “More and Better” conference Feb. 4-7, 2018 in Pt. St. Lucie, FL.
ENCOURAGE CONGREGANTS TO PARTICIPATE IN RELATIONAL MAPPING
An important exercise in launching relational-based disciple-making is relational mapping. Relational mapping identifies our sphere of influence (most have 30-50 relationships). Those relationships are connected to family, church, neighborhood, work/school, or recreation. Our sphere of influence is where disciple-making relationships are typically discovered.
BUILD CHURCH-BASED SUPPORT SYSTEMS
For relational-based evangelism to work the church needs to provide on-going support through structures of encouragement, prayer, training events, a culture of hospitality, a process to support those ready for baptism and leadership training for those who have come to faith and are now ready to be equipped for greater Kingdom impact.