Covenant Group Evangelism is a method to help the local church reach out to the community with the Gospel. It is based around the formation and activity of small groups. We believe that small groups and team ministry is an effective way to grow the local church. For more information, download our Covenant Group Evangelism Overview, a more detailed look at Covenant Team Evangelism.
Power of small groups and team ministry.
Robert Wuthnow, a social scientist at Princeton, has written that the small group’s movement is “the biggest social revolution of our day.” Carl George, noted church growth leader defines what he calls a “span of care.” This principle ensures that everybody is cared for, but no one cares for too many people. Each part must take responsibility so that Christ’s body can do its work in the world. Only when everyone works together will each life be transformed. In our plan each group has only about 12-15 members, and each of the four teams within the group has only three to four members
Foundation of groups. There are some key foundational or core components of small groups. These help create community and accountability in the church among the members. There are four blessings of small group ministry.
- Small groups are built on authentic relationships.
- Small groups are places where truth meets life.
- Small groups experience healthy conflict.
- Small groups provide well-balanced shepherding, so that people are both cared for and discipled.
Quick-start steps for success in initiating Covenant Group Evangelism and Ministry Teams in the local church.
- Pastoral backing. The pastor must first cast the vision of evangelism outreach from the church to the congregation through either a message or through a time of motivational teaching to the members. (We have prepared a special PowerPoint presentation to help cast this vision.) The message in this presentation contains a comprehensive overview of the Covenant Group Evangelism concept with adequate detail provided to insure that the congregation understands that they will be empowered to serve in the area of their calling rather than be forced to participate in areas of evangelism for which they have no calling. We have prepared a second PowerPoint to assist in recruiting participants as well. It is titled CGE PowerPoint for Recruiting Participants. Our message is that each member of the local church is a valuable member of the body who needs to be functional in the area they are called and gifted and not to feel inferior because they cannot accomplish what some other member of the body is called to do.
- Order teaching materials. Contact Church of God Lay Ministries to order our nine week Communicating the Gospel ministries kit and other books, tracts and forms we have for training on small group theory, formation and implementation, and witnessing materials.
- Schedule initial planning meeting. Hold a planning meeting with a core group of individuals who, following the motivational message have exhibited a serious interest in the Covenant Group Evangelism outreach concept. This meeting will be utilized to determine the overall goals and objectives of the outreach ministry, with input from the core participants, and will also help to determine specific geographical locations for outreach as well as specific types of ministry which will occur during the progress of the outreach.
This meeting will also assist in identifying the group and team leaders and will provide initial training as to their job descriptions and the overall organization, operation and function of the covenant group. It is not necessary that the group leader be a member of or leader of the evangelism team going door-to-door, but it is necessary that the group leader be a leader, organizer and motivator.
- Call a meeting of the four team leaders. You and [hopefully] the pastor will share the vision of Covenant Group Evangelism in this meeting. We have prepared a special handout explaining valuable information concerning team ministry for you to distribute in this session. It is titled: Overview of Ministry Teams. Please take the time to first read it, then reproduce it and give a copy to each team leader and other team members. You will need to make about 25 copies in order to have enough for everyone.
- Teach relational evangelism. Begin the nine-week Communicating the Gospel evangelism training seminar. This can be done as a Wednesday night class in order to not require another weeknight. All of the members of all teams should be involved in this training program [especially the Personal Evangelism team], even though they may not be a member of the evangelism team. The result of the group outreach activities over time will be that every member will experience an increase in their desire and burden to share the gospel of Jesus in their “Jerusalem” (their job, school, etc.). This training seminar will give them the tools they need to be able to effectively share the gospel. The nine-week seminar will be an ongoing training of group members from the start of the Saturday outreach. If schedules are tight, these nine weekly sessions can be taught in one weekend with our new Evangelism Impact Weekend Seminar. Contact Leonard C. Albert in the Department of Lay Ministries for more details!
- Prepare for outreach. First, have a small meeting of the pastor, group leader and team leader. They will discuss and determine the location and route for the prayer walk team, determine the location and route for the church introduction team and determine the initial group of 12 homes that the evangelism team is to visit. The servant evangelism activities are often easily identified through discussion with church members. They may have an unsaved neighbor or co-worker that has a physical need that can be addressed by the team that will demonstrate the love of Jesus in practical ways (please see the book Conspiracy of Kindness by Steve Sjogren for more ideas.
- Conduct the Saturday outreach. You could call this “Friendship Saturday.” We have found this name a better fit than what we used to call “knocking on door!” As the teams meet (each team can choose their own weekend) we recommend that they first gather for a time of intercessory prayer for this effort. This is essential to provide the prayer covering that is necessary for effective evangelism activities by the group for the day. Each team will then be given written instructions regarding the work they are to accomplish for the visitation period (two to three hours). The materials provided should include a map to the location, church promotional materials (brochures, etc.). New Testaments, tracts, contact report cards (spiritual survey cards) and other witnessing materials should be provided for the evangelism team. The servant evangelism team should have provided whatever materials and equipment they will require to accomplish their task for the day. The servant evangelism team leader should have already contacted the individuals where the work will be done to make sure they are expected, unless the work is outside and requires no prior notice. (Note: It is often beneficial for the evangelism team to begin the first Saturday outreach by visiting individuals who have visited their church, or who have been referred as potential salvation prospects by a church member. This will assist team members in getting started and give them some experience before visiting individuals who are completely unknown to them). The prayer walk team will walk and pray their area. It is usually a good idea to have the prayer walk team walking in an area ahead of the evangelism team.
- Report back session. At the end of the outreach effort, all of the team members should return to the church for a brief (30) minute testimony and reporting period. It would be great if the pastor, evangelism director, or group leader could be at this meeting to share in the testimony time and to affirm and encourage the work of the group. This is usually a time of great encouragement for the group since there are usually successes to report that will encourage everyone. The spiritual survey cards with contact information should be turned in to the group leader and any pertinent comments regarding contacts should be shared in order to facilitate the determination by the group leader and the pastor of the nature and extent of follow-up which should be done. We recommend using the “Top Sales Basic” software program. It is a great way to tract people visited or ministered to by the teams. The group leader will oversee the data entry of all contacts. (Perhaps the work can be done by a church secretary.) The pastor and group leader should meet as soon as possible during the following week to determine the desired follow-up procedures. Some needs may be identified as very urgent which may require immediate action by the pastor or assignment to a team leader and members for immediate follow-up. Follow-up may, based upon the circumstances, take the form of any number of contacts, either telephone calls, letters, cards, or personal visits. This cycle is repeated for each outreach Saturday with interim ministry conducted by the pastor, group leader and other members as necessary to address immediate needs that have been identified.
- Covenant Group Evangelism monthly meetings. Covenant group meetings are held each month in the home of the group leader. All of the team leaders and members should be in attendance. These meetings should last no more than an hour and will provide for a time of fellowship with light refreshments if possible. This will promote the growth of community within the group which will lead to bonding among the members. The meetings will also include a time for prayer, some training utilizing curriculum and subject matter approved by the pastor and group leader and a time for discussion of prior group activities and planning for the next Saturday outreach. This atmosphere produces accountability among the members as each member begins to understand the necessity of their position in the body and the importance of the work that they do to the overall success of the group. At the monthly meeting the group leader will advise the group of decisions of the pastor as to outreach and follow-up requirements for the next Saturday and will assign those responsibilities to the teams.
- Ongoing involvement of the pastor. The pastor should remain involved with the group to the extent necessary that the members are encouraged and affirmed in their outreach activities and do not begin to feel that they are operating without the full support and backing of the pastor and the church. While it may not be necessary for the pastor to go out with the teams on outreach Saturdays, he or she should maintain contact with the groups and teams. This can be accomplished by attending some of the prayer times at the church before the teams depart or with occasional involvement in the monthly group leaders’ home meetings.
- Involvement time. The time involvement of each team member will probably not exceed six to seven hours per month. This includes three to four hours on the once-monthly outreach Saturday and one to two hours each month at the group leaders’ home meetings. Some groups may desire to add a second monthly meeting for more time of fellowship and prayer. The training seminar can be held as a Wednesday night class so no additional time is added (or weekend seminar as previously mentioned).
It may be necessary to start a group without all of the teams intact. If this is the case, go ahead and start “Friendship Saturday” outreach activities with the teams you have and grow until you have recruited enough leaders and workers to have a full Covenant Evangelism Group.