Bearing Fruit: A Ministry Of Evangelism & Growth
By Tim Massengale
Modern church growth research has proven that the most effective evangelism method is that of focusing upon reaching the family, friends and acquaintances of your church members. This is known as Oikos Evangelism (after the commonly found New Testament Greek word “oikos” which means “community” or “sphere of influence”). Statistical surveys have repeatedly shown that ninety percent of all persons saved are first witnessed to by someone they know. So before we try to evangelize the stranger, we should try to reach our family, friends and close acquaintances.
The “Bearing Fruit” program focuses upon this principle of evangelism. The following outline is designed to assist you in
implementing this simple ministry within your local church and I am sure you will find, as others have, that the results are
substantial and consistent.
a. From your church registry or directory, make a list all the “family units” in your church (a “family unit” is defined as those
that live under one roof). Mature, unmarried singles (16 or older) should be listed separately even though they may live in with someone else. In other words, husband, wife and young children are usually considered a “team” and all others are listed separately.
b. On your prayer room wall (best), or in some other location that is often seen by your members (but not by your visitors),
have someone paint or design out of construction paper or art board a picture of a large grape vine (obtain a photo or drawing of a grape vine to assist you). Make this quite large. The trunk of the vine splits into two large branches (stretching out to the left and right). The trunk and two main branches are labeled “Jesus.” From the two large main branches come many smaller branches – one branch for each family unit or mature single in the church. Names are then carefully printed on each branch (example: The Larry Smith Family, The Ron Jones Family, Terry Warner, Sally Nelson, etc.).
c. Attached to each family branch is a clump of six or eight grapes (each grape is about two inches in size). The vine is also
covered with grape leaves to give the grape vine a full, attractive look.
a. Have the pastor preach a message upon John 15:1-7 with the focus on our need to bear fruit – and every branch that beareth
not fruit, “He taketh away.” Also, Luke 13:6-9, the parable of the fig tree that bore no fruit, can be used, as well as many other passages.
b. At the conclusion of this sermon, ask all to come forward. Challenge them to soulwinning for the next 12 months. Pass out
the commitment card (example at the end of this outline). Explain to them that you are looking for people that will commit to
participate the Branch Ministry Program:
1. Explain that for the next week or two, the church will be entering into a time of scheduled prayer and fasting. Those who
participate will be asking God to impress them with the names of six or eight people that He knows are ready or hungry for
salvation. (Note: this may not be the ones that I most want to be saved, but rather those whom God knows are ready for salvation.
God knows the heart and knows those who are most ready for the message of truth).
2. At the conclusion of the time of prayer and fasting, these names are then printed on the “grapes” that hang on that families
branch (many also try to get a photo to place in each grape, which really helps make the grapevine painting “come alive”). By faith, we are claiming this “fruit” for the Kingdom of God.
3. Explain that the church is going to plan a series of activities to reach these individuals with salvation. Each family is to commit to invite ALL six or eight persons they are trying to reach to each activity. Each activity has a goal: to befriend the individual, try to get a home Bible study with them and/or get them out to an evangelistic service.
4. The following is the type of activities you might plan for each month of the year (note that at least three times each year,
all who participate in the Branch ministry commit to ask all six or eight souls for a Home Bible Study. This is important! Research has show that most who are taught a Bible study have been asked at least three times before they accept):
January – Song Fest
February – Friend Day Sunday School Promotion
March – Revival
April – Easter Drama
April – All commit to ask all 6 for a Home Bible Study this month.
May – Film Series by Dr. Dobson or with prophecy theme
June – Pentecost Sunday “Old Fashioned Services”
July – 4th of July Picnic
August – Revival
August – Everyone commits to ask all six for a H.B.S this month.
September – Labor Day Picnic & Softball Game
October – Harvest Party & Hay ride
November – Revival
December – Christmas Cantata or Pageant
December – All commit to ask all six for a H.B.S. this month.
Other activity suggestions: Bar-b-que’s, Sunday School Contests, Prophecy Crusades, Special Singing Groups, Potlucks, Healing
Crusades, Marriage Enrichment Seminars, Lock-in’s, Out-of-town Retreats, etc.
c. Some churches set up an “Activity Committee” to help plan each activity. Others have asked a different family or person to
coordinate each activity. (Note: you do not have to have an activity EVERY month. Many prefer to plan only eight or ten activities. However, the church must be committed to involvement because there will be a LOT of visitors at each activity, so plan them well.)
d. All the names and addresses of the souls we are trying to reach this year should be placed onto a mailing list. Each should
receive a letter and flyer for each activity.
e. Throughout the year the importance of praying and fasting for the six or eight souls is emphasis. Each Branch Ministry
participant commits to call the names of the souls that God has impressed upon them in prayer each day.
f. It is important that the church be ready for the planned harvest of souls. You should prepare the church by doing three things:
1. Established a good “New Convert Care” program in the church and be teaching, or ready to teach, a good new converts course. (Request file NCGE-10.TXT from the Apostolic Information Service for information on establishing such a ministry).
2. Also, plan several home Bible study training seminars so the church will be ready to teach their friends when they are asked. (Some will not feel able to teach a HBS, so others should be ready to teach the study for them – but they should be at the study as it’s being taught if they choose not to teach it).
3. Train the church in the basic art of witnessing by teaching them the “Fishermen’s Workshop” & “Fishers Of Men” by Al Gossan.
g. It’s easy for the excitement to fade as the year progresses. Therefore it is important that you promote your success loud and often.