Today’s post by Kiely Young is the third installment in our Coach’s Guide to Sunday School resource provided by the office of Sunday School and Discipleship. To see the full guide, visit ALSBOM.org/coachsguidetosundayschool.
Imagine the following conversation:
“Say, Coach, I heard this recruiting stuff doesn’t work anymore. Folks are more into social media these days. Is that really true?”
“Well, why don’t we go back to the Rule Book and see what it says. Let’s see, what does The Great Commission say? It’s right here in Matthew 28:18-20: “Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (NKJV)
“Now that does sound a lot like recruiting for Jesus. Maybe we should check our strategies and see if we are following the directions of the Master Coach!”
We are commanded by our Lord and commissioned to build a team of multiplying disciples. But we seem to be falling down at that effort. We need to re-examine our efforts and upgrade our skills and our game plan.
Persons of Peace
What do we need to do to put a game plan in place that will produce multiplying disciples? Again we have to go back to the Rule Book and see what the Master Coach has to say. Dr. Luke records in his version of the Gospel message in chapter 10 as Jesus prepared to send His disciples out to share His Gospel message: “After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. Then He said to them, ‘The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest…But whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house”(Luke 10:1-2, 5-7a, NKJV).
Jesus tells us to look for “persons of peace,” people who are receptive to the Gospel message and are also willing to share what they receive. These can be multipliers.
Paul picked up on this strategy with young Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:1-2: “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (NKJV)
Who, When, Where and How?
So we have to ask the questions: Whom do we need to reach? When, where and how can we reach them? What will be our strategy for reaching? These could be the people we know who are not presently participating in a small group Bible study. Recent information tells us these are the most likely people to reach. We must prayerfully ask them. We may need to provide the right environment to properly ask them.
There are literally hundreds of ideas that will work, but the following is a list of few ideas to stimulate your thinking:
• Have a cookout
• Take them to a ballgame
• Have a tailgating party at a ball game
• Play a round of golf
• Have a block party
• Go fishing/hunting
• Go shopping and to lunch
• Ladies night out
• Wild game dinner
• VBS follow-up
• Family Fall Festival
• Thanksgiving party
• Christmas party
• Follow up with guests to church and Bible study
And the list goes on and on, only limited by our imagination.
We must remember a very important statement made by George Barna. “God’s church is not about structures and systems and resources; it is about people. It is about you and your relationship to God”(Re-churching the Unchurched, p.9).
God wants His disciples to multiply, to reach others who can be equipped to reach others. He does not want us to stay in the huddle or just sit on the bench. He wants us to get into the game. And He wants us to do so with enthusiasm.
There are some basic things about human nature that will affect our recruiting. Jesus compared it to the farmer sowing seeds. He said that some seeds (the Gospel message) we sow will fall on shallow soil, some on rocky soil, some on thorny soil, and some on good soil. The soil can be improved by proper cultivation, meaning intentional relationship building. If we just sow seed anywhere, anytime, any way we can, then we are going to get low results. But if we properly cultivate the soil, we can improve our results.
Jesus said those in shallow soil receive the seed quickly, but because they are in shallow soil with no room to grow, they die quickly. We must have a good relationship and help them have better understanding, deepening the soil.
Those in rocky soil have no place for the seed to take root. They are robbed of the chance because of interference. Unless we help them remove the interferences they will never receive the seed. Again, there must be cultivation. Those in thorny soil have room to grow, but they have so much other stuff going on, their relationship with God is choked out with other activity, sometimes even church activity. We have to help them with priorities…cultivation. Cultivation is hard work. It is not done in a worship setting alone. It has to be one on one over a period of time.
I am reminded of Michael Oher, a successful NFL offensive tackle. His story was brought to life in the movie The Blind Side. Leigh Anne Tuohy and her family saw him walking in the rain. He was a classmate of their daughter. The Tuohys took him home for the night which led to him becoming a part of their family in a legal guardian relationship. Their relationship changed his life forever. Their Christian example, exhibited through patient love, provided time for his life to be cultivated to receive the truth of the Gospel.
There are times when we have to build intentional relationships over time to help soil be ready to receive the truth of the Gospel. At times we do have the privilege to plant seed in good soil where the seed of the Gospel takes root and rapidly multiplies. That takes place only about 20% of the time we plant seed unless we properly cultivate the soil.
The best place to cultivate the soil is in an environment where the relationship can be enhanced with the help of others. That may be in a small group at church. OR…it could be in a small group off campus, even at a different time. It could even be during lunch or on a break at work.
John Avant, now a pastor in Knoxville, Tenn., once told his congregation he was going to go recruiting where sinners are gathered. He took one of his church members with him, and they went to a local hangout…a local bar. He found a room full of folk who needed prayer. He prayed with them and asked them if he could come back the next week and talk with them. They agreed and they did. They started a small group Bible study in a bar. That was “outside the box,” but they were cultivating the soil.
We are only limited by our availability to God to open relationship with folk who are in need. It might get messy…in fact, it will get messy. We have to be carefully prayed up. We will encounter folk in unusual circumstances. Some of these may not be “church friendly,” but all will be in need of the Gospel. As we are open, available and obedient, God will bring a fruitful harvest, some of whom will be great multipliers because they know lots of folk who need Jesus. We can disciple them to reach them, to reach others, who will reach others.
We will be on the winning team.
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