In Evangelism, why do I say ‘Structures’ are so important? In fact what do mean by the term ‘Structures’? One aspect that The Macquarie Dictionary states structures are is “a complex system considered from the point of view of the whole rather than of any single part”. I believe we often have lots of ‘single parts’ with no ‘system’ we can view as a whole.
I believe ‘Evangelism Structures’ consist of three distinct components. These are ‘Plans’, ‘Vehicles’ and ‘Tools’.
Plans give clear direction and consist of Desires and Goals. Plans come from us through prayer and obedience. Desires are things we would love too see happen, but have no control over. An example would be for a friend to accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. Goals on the other hand are things we do have control of. An example would be to ‘Plan’ quality time with that friend.
Vehicles give a means of expression. They are relevant to the people we ministering to. They are derived from the people we are reaching, NOT US! An example of a ‘Vehicle’ would be organising a low key social event that your friend WOULD BE INTERESTED in attending so they can meet more of your friends. Better still; maybe attend something with them they (or the both of you) are already involved in.
Tools give needed resources. They are essential to what we want to achieve in God. They are born out of our Plans and Vehicles. Tools are NOT RUN simply because they a good resource in and of themselves. This usually results in ineffectiveness. Examples of Tools are the ALPHA Programme from the UK, ‘Evangelism Explosion’, or the ‘Two Ways to Live’ Booklet here in Australia.
Let me sum up with the following sentence: “Through my plan I am aware where I’m going, through my Vehicle I know my expression and through my Tools I will be equipped.”
By knowing each component and its role very complex Evangelism Structures can be made easy and effective.
Group and Personal Evangelism Structures are the same. It doesn’t matter if you’re one person or a group, the need for direction, expression and resources remains. I think group Evangelism Structures are really just a lot of personal Evangelism Structures headed in the same specific direction.
We are blessed to have wonderful Bible teachers here in the Diocese of the Anglican Church in Sydney. Our well trained ministers not only know what to teach, but (mostly) know how to teach as well. My Rector and his team intentionally set up a series of linked well thought out bible teaching themes (PLAN) with opportunities for the congregation to learn. This includes a preaching roster for the Sunday service, small group studies and other teaching activities (VEHICLES), quite often using things like a custom made Home Study Guide, Alpha or Christianity Explained (TOOLS). A good Structure (Plan, Vehicles, and Tools) will also take into account where different members of the congregation are at in their walk of faith and plan accordingly. Deliberate consideration is also given to identifying and training future ministers of the Word. All this, of course, is great stuff leading to congregations well versed in Scripture and moving on, maturing in Christ.
Sadly, I believe little of this happens when it comes to Evangelism. It seems a lot of churches give little thought to Evangelistic Structures. It seems to me, if a Plan is there, desires or goals are not clearly identified; Vehicles may not be the best and Tools not always relevant. Another problem is the lack of a clear system to identify and train potential evangelists. This often leads to no clear thought of the essential practical steps needed to connect with people outside of the congregation.
This leads to haphazard evangelism, wrongly targeted evangelism or ineffective (or only marginally effective) evangelism. What this means in real terms is many evangelist meetings attract few or no non-Christians. It means few or nobody in the church congregation has regular meaningful contact with any outside the kingdom. It means the chances of a non-Christian being befriended by a Christian appear to lessen as the years roll on and the church distances itself from the community, unintentionally or intentionally.
The burning question that we need to ask is what individual Structures are best for me or my church? Not being you, I cannot answer. However, I can give necessary general elements that must be made specific to arrive at your all important Evangelism Structure.
And with your permission, I'd also like to offer you free access to more on Plans, Vehicles and Tools. You can access them by going to http://www.everyday-evangelism.com/html/evangelism_articles.html
May God bless you in all your endeavours,
Captain Andrew D. Carter Dip. Ev., CA
My parting thoughts for now:
Ask the leaders of your Church to show you the Evangelism Activities proposed for the next 12 months, 3 years and 5 years.
Identify the Plans, Vehicles and Tools.
What is your personal Target Group?