[Series IV] Evangelism and Church Growth

Evangelism and Church Growth: Research on Non-believers
For Evangelizing Strategy in the Korean Context
and A Model of Diamond Evangelistic System 

Written By HONG, Young-Gi (Ph.D.)
The Senior Pastor of the Full Gospel Church of Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.

 

3.Master Customized Witnessing Strategy

The third level of Diamond Evangelistic System is to master the customized witnessing strategies. Now that the desires of the non-believers have been understood through area research, setting that as the center we need to master the customized witnessing strategy.  In regular businesses, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is being set as the standard in marketing.  As the consumer based marketing, CRM is making customized approaches that are fit to the consumers.  In 1 Corinthians 9:20, Apostle Paul says, “To the Jew I became like a Jew, to win the Jews.  To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so as to win those under the law.”  In order to deliver the gospel, Apostle Paul completely took on the target-centered attitude.

Earlier, we classified the non-believers into four different types according to their life style. It is important to witness according to those life styles.  The author chose the witnessing methods that fit the life styles of the non-believers among the methods that were currently being used by Korean churches and made them apply it.  Then it is possible to witness non-believers according to their life styles.  The following is the guidepost.

 

Table 19.  Witnessing Method According to the Non-believers’ (life style) type*

* ◎ means very effective method, ○ is effective methos, and X  means ineffective method.

 

Here I would like to briefly explain each witnessing strategy.

1) Gospel Presenting Witness Using Small Booklets – Neutral, Optimistic Non-believers
The Four Spiritual Tenets used by Campus Crusades for Christ and Navigator’s Bridge Witnessing Method are strategies that have been introduced by mission organizations.  The point is to introduce and have them accept Jesus in a short time by carrying around gospel made into small booklets. It is very convincing to young intellectuals, summarizing the human relations with God.  However, this kind of approaching method started in the Western logical thinking and individualistic culture and so does not match too well with the mentality of the Koreans who are moved by warm intimate relationships.  Also, this kind of approach raises rejecting responses from negative and evasive non-believers.

2) Evangelism Explosion – Neutral, Optimistic Non-believers
The Evangelism Explosion was started by Rev. James Kennedy of U.S and is constructed of 16 weeks of training.  The approaching method for Evangelism Explosion is logical and gospel presentation is clearly possible.  It is talking about the God’s love and grace and the questions and explanations about conversion are presented quite politely.  However, this also does not exceed the limits of using a small booklet.  Also, it can easily raise the rejecting responses from negative and evasive non-believers.
 

3) Full Mobilization Witnessing Strategy – Negative, Evasive, Neutral Non-believers
For Full Mobilization Witnessing, rather than an individual witnessing method, it is a witnessing strategy led by the whole church.  This kind of witnessing method can gather the attention of the church by setting a date as Full Mobilization Sunday and having all the church members participate, and has an advantage of visible effect.  Because the church members can participate, it allows them to have some confidence in witnessing.  However, this can become a materialistic event and end as a temporary event.  Since this is bringing the non-believers to Full Mobilization Sunday through contact, it fits the non-believers that are evasive towards gospel.

4) Special Evangelism Forces Mission Strategy – Neutral, Optimistic Non-believers
In the Korean Church, believers with the gift of evangelism are organized into a special mission task force.  This strategy started through the advocacy of “utilize your gift of mission” by church growth scholars. The advantage in this strategy is it makes use of people with a special gift.  However, rivalry can arise amidst the members of the Special Mission Forces and even come to mistakenly believe that only the Special Mission Forces may evangelize.  Many times, the witness of the Special Mission Forces may take an offensive form and lead non-believers to have an adverse reaction.

5) Conception of Non-believer (Embracement) Witnessing – Negative, Evasive, Neutral Non-believers
This mission strategy is a newly proposed strategy, fully recognizing that even though many existing evangelism strategies put a lot of energy and time, they are just one-time event harvesting the souls not much.  The main point in this strategy would be to keep a target in your mind and nurture (conceive) them in your heart and pray so that you may build a good relationship with them.  Then, at the right opportunity you must invite them to church.  This requires a long period of preparation through prayer and love, thus, it is beneficial to negative, adverse, or neutral non-believers.

6) Misty Rain Witness Letter – Negative, Evasive Non-believers 
Misty rain mission letter initiates a point of contact and creates a continuing relationship through letters.  Then, at the right moment, the person must be invited to church to accept the gospel.  This strategy creates an arable field in the mind so that one can plant the seed of the word.  To make the heart of a person with a road-like mind, a pebble-ridden mind, and a thorn-crowded mind into an arable field, letters are consistently sent to the person. If the letters are being dispatched continually, it would change the hardening mind of the non-believers into a soft one by piecemeal, like misty rain gradually soaks through people’s clothes. Afterwards, through prayer and the Word one must write letters and find the appropriate moment to visit or call the target to open their minds.  This method helps open the hearts of non-believers making it appropriate to use on negative and evasive subjects.

7) Sweet Potato Witness – Optimistic, Neutral, Evasive Non-Believers   
The sweet potato witness helps to determine the level of receptivity in a person.  The sweet potato reference comes from the fact that when a sweet potato is ready to be eaten, you will easily be able to poke a chopstick into the sweet potato.  Also, during the process of cooking, a sweet potato is often poked to see if it is done, and often, the sweet potato will cook faster because of those holes.  This witness is mainly composed of three proclaiming words: 1) Do you believe in Jesus?  2) I am very much happy because of faith in Jesus  3) I am praying for you. This witness strategy implies that if a low-level receptivity target is continually stimulated through continual witnessing, the target will eventually grow their receptivity.  Because this requires repeated efforts it might backfire on negative non-believers.  However, it is a good method to convert evasive non-believers.

8 ) Oikos Witnessing – All Non-believers
The Oikos witnessing method targets life’s natural relationships such as family, friends, neighbor, colleagues, peers, and etc.  Through this method, the witnessing is not merely done through words but by action.  Because this method arises from committing to the gospel it is useful for changing the hearts of negative and evasive non-believers.

9) Need-based Witnessing Strategy – All Non-believers 
This method looks for what individuals and society needs to help them fulfill it.  The present society expects the church to play a role in aiding society.  This lets the church witness according to the needs of the people, leading people to be awed by the church.  Because this method witnesses while aiding them in their day-to-day life this method is especially appropriate to use on negative and adverse non-believers.

10) Small group centered witnessing – All Non-believers 
The Yoido Full Gospel Church has used the small group focused witnessing early on.  A main example of this would also be the Alpha Course that focused on relationships. The importance they put on relationships can categorize this strategy into relationship-based method.  Inviting a non-believer to a small group meeting might be less pressure for the non-believer and it also has potential to create an open environment in which the non-believer might reveal his worries.  This method is especially good for non-believers who are negative and evasive toward Christianity.

 

4. Create and Utilize Evangelism Network in a Church

The fourth step of the Diamond Evangelistic System is to create and utilize evangelism network in a church.  Just as nets are used to catch fish, the church should be a mission-focused organization.  The best way to do this is to organize a Special Evangelism Force.  Witnessing is a responsibility that all Christians should hold.  However, a witnessing is also a special gift for chosen people.  To organize an effective Special Mission Force, it must be created with people who have a special gift for witnessing.  According to Professor Peter Wagner, in most churches, 10% of the congregation has the special gift of witnessing.  There is a need to utilize these 10% to concentrate on witnessing.

To become a mission network organization, there must be collaboration between the Special Evangelism Force and the witnessing small group.  Church growth scholars often say that if one desires for the church to growth, they must keep the front gates wide open, create many side doors, and tightly shut the back exit.  In this saying, the front gates are worship welcoming the non-believers to church, the side doors are small groups contacting the non-believers, and the back exit is organization keeping the new believers within the church.  A dynamic small group is always present in growing churches.  Small groups are especially useful instrument of witnessing.

Thus, it is an important task to make the small group witness-focused.  Small groups should not be focused on fellowship but focused on witnessing and missions.  All members of the small group should be involved in witnessing. One of the most influential voices in small group ministries, Carl George, suggests that “empty chair strategy” be utilized in small group setting.   Every time the small group meets, an empty chair should be placed in the middle of room.  This empty chair will remind the members why they are meeting.  The goal of the small group should be to fill the empty chair.

An effective method that can be used in small groups are relationship witnessing.  Meaning, targets should come from people they already know.  Elmer Towns’ research shows that, in the case of the United States, a study of the patterns of the paths of the people who attend church show that 86% started church through friends or family, 6% were invited by the minister, and 2% came through advertisements.   This shows that a majority of people was introduced to Jesus Christ, Savior through friends and family.

These kinds of relationship witness should be executed especially in small groups setting. Small groups relieve pressure from non-believers, are not too formal, do not require a special facility, and allows people to have a deep Bible study. The best way to witness to a non-believer is to help them meet people before they meet Jesus.  In other words, we can help them build a net of relationship that warms them to Christianity. Small groups have the best characteristics to accomplish this kind of witness. The churches which effectively use this small group evangelism usually invite non-believers to the houses of church members thereby building love relationships and invite them to the church at a proper time for their salvation. Each member of small group has a target of evangelism and a role in that evangelism. The church needs to develop the whole structure for mission purpose.

 

5. Arm the People with Evangelism Training

The fifth step of the Diamond Evangelistic System is to arm the people with evangelism training before attempting it.  So, then how is this done?  First, church members must be armed with prayer training for evangelism. Group prayers are especially effective when praying for a non-believer.  Brian Mills’ three-person prayer is a good example.  Brian Mills started the three-person prayer in the mid-1980’s among non-believers in the school, workplace, and neighborhood.  This is that three Christians gather together once a week to pray together for nine non-believers they conceive and target spiritually (each target 3 non-believers).  Pastor Billy Graham also used this method of a three-person prayer group in his witness.  This prayer method also became popular in the churches of Australia and Europe and resulted in thirty thousand three-person prayer group movements.  Such a prayer will free them from the spiritual binding that non-believers are in.

Second, church members must be armed with spiritual knowledge training for evangelism. It is possible that when a believer attempts to witness to a non-believer, they may be asked unexpected questions.  For example questions like:  “If the fruit of good and evil was not created, wouldn’t there not has been any sin?”  “Who was Cain really afraid of?” Did General Lee Soon Shin (an Korean equivalent of Admiral Nelson, lived and died in a medieval Chosun Dynasty before gospel had reached Korean Peninsula) go to heaven?” “Is it not OK to believe in Jesus without going to the church?” “Should we pray with our eyes closed?”  The church must teach believers how to answer these questions.  There must be an emphasis on verse memorization is needed.  One must be able to bring up from memory an appropriate verse to the situation.

Third, church members should be armed with love for evangelism. There was a deacon of a church married into a non-believing family.  The mother-in-law got cancer, and this deacon cared for her mother-in-law with dedication.  The mother-in-law was touched by her daughter-in-law’s commitment and accepted Christ because of it.  After that, her husband came to accept Christ, and eventually the whole family came to believe in Christ.  There was another deacon who had no talent except at making Korean Kimchi.  She dedicated eight years by making kimchi for a family to evangelize them. Without experiencing the love of God in this post-modern environment, non-Christians will not be attracted to the church. When our mission is armed with prayer, the Word of God, and love, this will bear good fruits.

 

6. Implement Three-Layer New-Comer Settlement Strategy

The sixth and last step of the Diamond Evangelistic System is to implement the three-layer new-comer settlement strategy.  The importance of new-comer settlement cannot be emphasized enough.  Gary W. Kuhne claims that while the church today attempts at new ways to evangelize and develop the church, poor management is resulting in the loss of a big portion of the new-believers.   There is research stating that ten million people have visited a church at least once in Korea.  The church is not making much progress because it has not been able to keep those people from never coming back.

To keep new-believers from leaving, the three layer new-believer settlement, which is also called 3.3.3. new-believer settlement, is needed. The three layer new-comer settlement consists of three instances of contact, conviction of salvation within 3 months, and making at least more than 3 friends.  The first of the three layer new-comer settlement is having contact more than three times.  During those three times, the new-comer should be treated like a VIP.  There are various methods of contact with the new-comer: visiting them at home, letters, and phone calls are among some of them.  Visitations are more beneficial if done early on, however, these days, because people value their privacy so much, many people might be hesitant to home visitations.  If this is the case, we must choose another tactic and text messages or make a phone call.  Things such as the misty rain letters help open up people’s minds.  For example, a church in Daegu has sent new members misty rain letters in the name of the senior pastor for three years.  They have had a surprising 95% settlement rate in that church.  Continuous contact helps new comers to settle.

In the second part of the three layer new-comer settlement method, the new-comer must be assured of being saved within three months.  In the first six months to a year, a complete program must be planned for the new comers so that they have no choice but to settle.  The new comer’s spirituality must be constantly taken care of.  There must be continuous bible study and contact with the Spirit.  A new comer can effectively settle when he/she has experience a meeting with God and feels certain about being saved.

Nurturing and spiritual experience is the best way to be certain about being saved.  Non-comers and new comers are often frustrated by their curiosity.  The church must encourage new-comers during their process of settlement and be able to fulfill their spiritual need.  Thus, a meeting should be held at least once a week where non-comers may have an open discussion about their curiosities.  In Willow Creek Community Church, many non-comers attend a class made especially for them.  More than half of these people understand the gospel and accept Christ.

Also, new comers must be encouraged to be baptized with the Holy Spirit.  Prayer is absolutely necessary for new comers to be baptized by the Holy Spirit.  Ervin R. Stutzman proposes the 3.3 special prayer task force.   In the 3.3 special prayer task force, three believers pray for three non-believers each.  New believers may feel certain about their faith when they are supported through prayer.

The last part of the three layers is to make more than three friends.  Church growth scholar Win Arn states that the number of friends one makes during the first six months of church attendance reflects his/her level of activeness.  He conducted a research with 50 active new members and 50 non-active new members.  The result of the research showed that all 50 active members had more than three friends in the church.  Creating new friendships for the new members is a way to help them settle in the church.  The following <Table 20> shows this.

 

Table 20.  Friends at church and new believer’s state

 

Conclusion

There are still a large number of people in the world who do not know Jesus.  Church growth is harder to achieve but we must still have vision and hope for the salvation given to us by God.  To renew the stagnant church, evangelism should be revived.  For such witnessing to be possible, a spiritual and strategic preparation is needed.  Just as Jesus knew well about the Samaritan woman, we should also understand our target non-believers and pray to the Lord for help.  This research conducted by the Institute for Church Growth on the consciousness and perspective of non-believers has potential to be analyzed more in depth.  And the Diamond Evangelistic System created by this presenter can be utilized and applied in many ways.  It is up to each local church how to utilize the model provided in the research.  It is my sincere hope that the Lord’s Kingdom may be expanded by the dedication of the churches with spirituality and system for evangelism.

7 Comments

  1. Usefull information.

  2. Thanks. Evangelism is the heart of the church.

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  5. Michaele Sommerville

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