5 Networks. 5 People. 5 Tasks.
“Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch” (Lk 5:4)
This week we’re starting a series of sermons on reaching our city with the Gospel of Jesus, through network evangelism. The goal of the series is to encourage, equip, and inspire you to be more faithful at spreading the good news. Please know that we don’t intend to guilt trip you each week into doing something you hate doing. This series is actually designed to help you get started, taking small steps, in this important endeavor. We simply want to do more in this area than we are currently doing, and we think we have a biblical and faithful strategy for improvement. Further, we just don’t want this to be a series of sermons. The aim is to create a mindset, or a way of life, that helps you live with gospel intentionality.
(Our normal preaching pattern is to work through books of the Bible every Sunday, but the elders believe that this short series is very needed for our congregation at this time. Also realize that we will be expounding a text every week in the 555 series, just not from one book alone…. Starting in January, the plan is to go verse by verse through the book of Acts. We’re prepared to spend a year or more studying this book, and we’re eager to do it).
Typical approaches to evangelism in the past have either involved crusade evangelism, or cold-call evangelism (door-to-door visitation). While not depreciating these strategies, we believe that an approach that takes into account those in our networks has real potential for effectiveness, and also has a historical legacy behind it. For the early church grew, in large measure, through a web of relationships.
In Tim Keller’s Church Planting Manual, he recommends this approach and says the following:
There must be an atmosphere of expectation that every member will always have 2 to 4 people in the incubator, a force-field in which people are being prayed for, given literature, brought to church or other events.
We have added to Keller’s idea just a bit, and tried to think of five particular networks. Think about 2-5 people in each network. Think about praying, giving literature, inviting, serving, and actually speaking the gospel.
By giving you some tangible ways to interact with those in your network, we think everyone can be involved. You can at least pray for those in your networks. Surely, you can give a book or a Bible to someone in your networks. Perhaps you can give an invitor card to someone in your network, right? Hopefully, you can do all of this in the normal rhythm of your life. One may not have to necessarily add a new activity to an already busy schedule. This is a challenge to simply identify the people you see and know, and to live with gospel intentionality among them everyday.
So again, here’s the plan: 5 Networks. 5 people in those networks (as a goal). 5 tasks.
1. Familial Network: Family you have
2. Vocational Network: People you work with
3. Commercial Network: Businesses you frequent
4. Geographical Network: Neighbors you see
5. Relational Network: Friends you make (not necessarily neighbors). These can be cultivated through recreation or missional endeavors.
(Note: Not everyone will have the same amount of people in the networks. That’s fine. Think about identifying more people in the other networks).
1. Pray for Them
2. Serve Them
3. Give Gospel-Centered Literature to Them
4. Invite Them
5. Speak the Gospel to Them
Below is our tentative sermon schedule. (Some of these texts are very tentative at this point). After the first sermon, we will spend two weeks on each of the 5 tasks.
1. Let Down Your Nets (Luke 5:1-11) [Sept 14] 2. Task #1: Pray for Them …. That They May Be Saved (Rom 9:1-3; 10:1-21) [Sept 21] 3. Task #1: Pray for Them … Because God Answers Prayer (James 5:16-18; 1 Kings 18:36-40) [Sept 28] 4. Task #2: Serve Them … With the Father’s Mercy (Luke 6:27-36) [Oct 5] 5. Task #2: Serve Them …. With Genuine Neighbor Love (Luke 10:25-37) [Oct 12] 6. Task #3: Give Gospel-Centered Literature to Them … Because Truth Matters (Col 2:6-23) [Oct 19] 7. Task #3: Give Gospel Centered Literature to Them …. As You Contend for the Faith (Jude 1:1-4) [Oct 26] 8. Task #4: Invite Them … To Your Parties and to Jesus’ Party (Luke 14:12-24 Part 1) [Nov 2] 9. Task #4: Invite Them … To Your Parties and to Jesus’ Party (Luke 14:12-24 Part 2) [Nov 9] 10. Task #5: Speak the Gospel to Them … Following the Pattern of Jesus (John 4) [Nov 16] 11. Task #5: Speak the Gospel to Them … As Christ’s Ambassador (2 Cor 5:11-21) [Nov 23]
As an added feature, our goal is to have a testimony each week, who is living out this vision in practical and encouraging ways. We will also be having a special time of prayer on the weekend of Sept 26-27. But please begin praying now. May the Lord add to our number daily those who are being saved (Acts 2:47).