The Rev. Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Pastor, Allendale United Methodist Church St. Petersburg, FL
Building a Contagious Church:
Revolutionizing the way we view and do evangelism
Many of us are looking for solid, Biblically grounded processes for helping our congregations embrace the Great Commission. In an effort to address the problem, we are tempted to stage a large event or transplant another congregation’s program, when in reality what our congregation needs is transformation at its very core. We need a process, not a program, and Mittelberg supplies it.
Mittelberg advocates relational evangelism, organizing his thoughts into 4 large sections. Section 1 lays the groundwork with a discussion of the various steps needed for a secular person to move from a place of unbelief to belief. This is the weightiest writing of the book, yet remains encouraging and accessible for both lay and clergy due to the illustrations and real life examples.
Section 2 outlines a 6 stage change process. This process is based on the Biblical model Jesus used in spreading evangelistic values. Think of it like a pebble in a pool. Jesus first modeled evangelistic values, then instilled those values into the core group of persons who would eventually lead the early church, and later into the DNA of the early church itself so it would have an impact on its community and world. Thus the stages of the process are —
1. Owning and modeling evangelistic values (pastor, staff, core lay leadership)
2. Instilling evangelistic values in the people around us (increase congregation awareness)
3. Empowering an evangelistic point person
* Mittelberg insists that this should be someone other than the pastor
4. Liberating and equipping every believer
* Faith sharing training becomes part of the core curriculum of the church
5. Developing a diversified evangelism team
* A person from each major ministry comes together occasionally for training, encouragement, and to strategize on how evangelistic values will permeate the congregation’s ministries, gatherings, worship, class offerings, etc.
6. Innovating High-Impact Outreach Ministries and Events
* The piece we often try first actually comes last in Mittelberg’s process so that proper motivation and training are already in place.
Like the other sections of the book, Section 2 is filled with real life models and suggestions for practical application. The testimonies sprinkled throughout the book inspire, giving the reader a desire to be used of God. The questions at the end of each chapter help to focus the reader and move him/her to action.
Section 3 dispels many of the myths concerning evangelism by discussing 6 Biblically based evangelistic styles. For those who have read, taught, or taken the Contagious Christian course, this section is a more elaborate and developed discussion of the same 6 evangelistic styles taught in lesson 2. Section 4 is a summary and closing discussion.
Mark Mittelberg is the executive vice president of the Willow Creek Association in charge of evangelism.