Introduction

To pick up from last week. People are separated from God, God has a plan to bring people back to Him and we have a role in this. It is useful to review this with the group before starting the WORD section in this session.

This meeting outline looks at how our intentions are often thwarted, and the things that can get in the way of getting a heart for the lost. By identifying barriers we can be effective for God in every area of our Christian lives.

ingredients

A pen and some scrap paper for the welcome, as well as 6 sheets of A4 paper [bigger if possible] for the word section. You will also need to make sure that everyone has a Bible for the word section.

welcome

What is the most embarrassing thing you have ever done/said? Why was it so embarrassing? How did it feel? What do you think other people were thinking about you at the time? [Make sure people answer all four aspects to get the most out of it]

worship

Make sure everybody has a Bible. Ask the group to stand and turn to Psalm 136. Going around the circle, each person shouts out a verse and then the whole group shout out the refrain, ‘His love endures forever’. This would naturally lead to praising God for everything the Psalm talks about. Have a guitar ready or a suitable song that will allow the group to continue to declare God’s goodness.

word

read

The story of Jonah to yourself.

discuss

What different barriers to evangelism can be seen here? Get the group to share some ideas from the Bible passage. Involve people who don’t speak straight away.

To make it easier for people to identify with barriers to evangelism, use these 7 headings. Before the meeting write each one on a separate sheet of paper:

  1. A lack of God’s heart for the lost
  2. Apathy
  3. Fear of people: of what they might say or think and of losing their friendship
  4. Fear of God: a wrong understanding that leads to the fear of displeasing him through getting it wrong
  5. Bad time management
  6. A lack of non-Christian friends.
  7. Non-distinctive lifestyle.

application

Write each barrier down and spread them around the floor of the room that you are in. Ask these questions :

  • Why does this barrier affect me?
  • Is it to do with fear/poor discipline/not caring?
  • Where does this come from? [Fear of mistakes/never tried to share my faith/high expectations from others to be ‘sound’ or to have all the answers]

Give people a few minutes to think and then ask them to go and stand on (or next to) the piece of paper that they feel they can most identify with. People take time to identify with the barrier and go over the questions again – this time to themselves and with more care.

pray

While standing on/next to the pieces of paper, take the rest of the time as a group to pray through what you have been discussing. You may like to encourage one another to repent, first, of where you have let these things stand in the way of your evangelism, and then pray for each other that these barriers will be removed. You need to decide whether to do this together, in pairs or quietly each person on their own.

witness

You now have the chance to move on from barriers and do something practical about evangelism. We know that the vast majority of people become Christians through the friendship they have with another Christian. This is why we encourage each member of the group to identify a handful of friends [3-5 people] whom they relate to at uni and to pray for them regularly. Use small group meetings to develop the value ‘heart for the lost’ together as well.

Spend these twenty minutes praying for friends each of you identified [last week], and ask God to give opportunities to demonstrate to unchurched friends the Good News of Jesus. If anyone in the group hasn’t yet identified a few people that they pray for and witness to, ask them to think of three people now – it could be housemates, people on their corridor, or course mates.

It is useful for small group leaders to make a mental note of this person’s situation. Speak to them afterwards, and explain that by being accountable to the group for our praying and witnessing, it is easier to maintain it as a lifestyle. Knowing which people God has laid on your heart also helps you to be focused, avoiding being frustrated and unproductive in your efforts to make your life count.