“I don’t like the word ‘corporate’ in the title of our Sabbath school lesson about witnessing,” Beth complained.
“Why not?” Her husband Matt rubbed his chin.
“Because it makes it sound like evangelism is big business.”
“And you think that evangelism is little business?”
“No, not really. I just don’t think that God expects us to run our church and even our evangelism programs like a business.”
“What’s the alternative?”
“Each person witnessing for himself, or herself. You know. Grow where you’re planted. Let your little light shine. One-on-one evangelism. Friendship evangelism. Whatever you want to call it.”
“But how would we ever have the Pathfinder Club? Or the community services ministry? Or an almost new church to worship in? or a church school? Could those things happen without a cooperative effort by the members?”
Beth conceded that her husband was right, that big projects require a lot of people working together. But something in her pulled away from the idea of projects designed and managed by her church. What does Beth need? How would you help her understand “corporate evangelism” from a fellow member’s perspective?
[Thought Questions for Corporate Evangelism and Witnessing May 15, 2012]
1. Work enough for all. Do people attend your church who are otherwise respectable and devoted members but seem to have no interest whatsoever in supporting any church-wide projects? Is there anything your church who can do about uninvolved members? Do some people have good reasons for staying in the background? As fellow members, what should our attitude be towards such members? How long should a new member belong to your church before they are given an invitation to be involved in the church? Is it possible for a church not to have any evangelism-oriented work to do? Discuss.
2. Knowing what’s going on. In North America about half of all Adventist church members seldom if ever attend church. In some other Christian denominations the proportion of members who attend church regularly is less than 10 percent. Do you think more would be involved with the church if they knew what was going on? How should we tell them? The Bible says, “two are better than one,” Ecclesiastes 4:9. How many good friends do you have in your local church? Do you enjoy doing church-related work with your friends?
3. Planning Together. Does the pastor do most of the planning and directing in your church? Is that good or bad? Or does it depend…if so, on what? What part do you play in the planning process? What part would you like to play? Have you ever tried to set up a big program without any support from the members? Imagine that you work at the church’s headquarters. How would you garner support in planning and carrying out programs for all churches? If we as members were more excited than we are about the Second Coming, would we be more eager to suggest, plan, and become involved in local church programs?
4. Goal ownership. Do you know what your church’s goals and objectives are? Do you feel that you “own” your church’s goals? What does that mean? How long should local church goals exist? How often should they be discussed? What role should members have in setting church goals? What happens in an active church once goals have been set? What about a lethargical church? What happens to their goals? Why?
5. Join a team. They may not call it that, but doesn’t your church have dozens of teams working around the year? What if your music were set up without teamwork? Or the Sabbath school? Or what about Community Services? Doesn’t it make your heart beat with pride to see helping and sharing functions shared by members? What about that evangelistic campaign you’re planning to conduct with local members only? How many teams have you as a member? Throw out the word, “team.” Can you still find ways to work with others and make friends?
6. Do your share. Does this lesson read like a recruitment brochure? Shouldn’t it? In the history of the world, is it time for every member to sign up and dedicate his or her time and energy to the work of the church? How strong was the urge in the early Christian church to learn, to do, to go, to help others? What can we do today to strengthen our Christian urges along those lines? Is it possible for church members to push themselves too hard and try to do too much church work? Have you seen that happen? What would God like to see in His church on earth?
7. Corporate unity. How much unity do we need in our church? What do you think about the need to “dumb it down?” If everything is presented so simply that a third-grader could understand, would that contribute to corporate unity? Or would it be better to raise expectations to our highest level? Is unity without Christ worth anything? Is unity for its own sake any better? Did Jesus always create an aura of unity wherever he went? What are the characteristics of divine unity that can make our churches stronger witnesses of God’s love?
8. Being realistic. If your church runs a community outreach program that fails, is that the fault of the planners? If you’ve never run a Vacation Bible School before, and you expect 100 youngsters to show up, how can you know if you are being realistic? What can you do to increase the possibility of your attendance goals being reached? If the majority of active members doubt that a project voted by the church board is realistic, will it fail? Why or why not?