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If you are looking for an evangelism program to use in your church, I strongly urge you to consider Christianity Explored. Although there are several good programs out there, we decided to go with CE several years ago. We appreciate that the CE videos go through a book of the Bible (Mark) and does not skip over the doctrine of sin.
To give you a feel for CE, I thought I would interview Bruce Jeffries, the elder who has spearheaded the program at our church.
Me: How many times have we done CE now?
Bruce: This is our fourth session, five if you count the training session. My comments reflect our experience. As you know, most of our guest have been internationals, as much as 90%.
Me: How many new people do you estimate have come each time?
Bruce: Attendance varies greatly over the course of the program. Usually a low start (3 is the smallest we’ve had the first night, and 9 is our largest), but by week four or week five we reach a “normal” level of attendance, ranging from a low of 20 to a high of 28/29 for the past three sessions.
About 10% to 15% of our guest are repeats, either they started part way through a prior session or they are repeating the whole thing. I think we get two waves of people, the early adopters are the first wave and then they invite their friends for the second wave. Our Asian guests are very perceptive of our hospitality strengths and weaknesses. They see Americans as friendly and quick to make contact, but slow or absent on follow up. So the process of spending dinner together for ten weeks and intentionally asking personal questions about their lives is very disarming, but in a good way.
Me: What fruit have you seen through CE?
Bruce: Again these comments are specific to mostly internationals. CE Training materials stress that your job is to “sow the seed” and the Lord will produce the harvest. We have seen that time and time again. Fruit we have seen can be grouped into three areas.
1. Gospel Knowledge.
Many of our guest come from an atheistic culture where they have received formal education denying God’s existence, teaching a “naturalistic worldview”, etc. In these cases our fruit is explaining a Gospel worldview where GOD, who does exist, is THEIR creator and THEY are his creation. And it is God’s design for HIS creation that THEY know and worship Him by loving and serving his son Jesus. Mostly apologitics. We have had a number of guest complete CE and on their final evaluation form write that they now “believe God exist” but that they are not convinced that “Jesus is God” or that Jesus is their “Savior” . While not a believer yet, the change in worldview is nothing short of miraculous. It is our prayer for them that other Christians will minister to them later.
When we see confession of Jesus as Lord and Savior, it is generally where others have already planted the seeds and we are providentially fortunate to be there for the new birth. As for numbers, I would guess we see maybe one new professions of faith per session. Follow up is the challenge. Sometimes it is very difficult to tell where people are, language barriers, traditional belief systems still flavoring their worldview to some extent. Sanctification will continue the process.
3. Spiritual Growth We always have a number of young believers. CE materials are helpful to clarify and re-organize gospel truths in these cases.
Me:What is the basic structure of the evening?
Bruce: We organize things like this:
7:30 Discussion 1
8:20 Discussion 2
I think a real important aspect of the CE program is the use of the dinner time for the CE host to personally invest/know in their guest. This process/information is absolutely important as later CE sessions will provide opportunities for the host to help the guest to make connections to the Gospel.
All 10 video presentations include all the three main content areas: 1. Jesus His Identity, 2. His Mission, 3. His Calling. The earlier sessions focus on who Jesus is, then they transition to His death and resurrection and end with His rightful claim on your life. As you know Mark is used to look at Jesus.
I’m thankful for everyone at our church ministering through CE, from cooks to babysitters to table leaders to everyone who invites a friend. It is a good program, bearing more fruit than we imagined, especially among internationals.
Check out Christianity Explored here. The website also has information about Discipleship Explored and other variations of CE.