How to Get Your Congregation Excited about Evangelism
I have never met a pastor committed to the Scriptures who does not want to see his church grow by conversion instead of having believers transfer from another church to his. He is well aware that the Great Commission does not say “Go and transfer disciples” but instead “Go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19-20).
If that is to happen, the congregation has to be sharing the gospel (not merely the pastor). And while that seems obvious enough, the real question is how do you create an evangelistic congregation?
While it’s not always easy, it’s also not as difficult as people tend to make it. It amounts to following the three “E”s. Let’s unpack them one by one.
Example of Evangelism
People are more apt to do what you do than what you say. So, your congregation has to see you doing what you are asking them to do. Evangelistic churches are led by evangelistic church leaders. The pastor has to be setting the example in evangelism so he can then look at his people and say, “Follow me.”
There is never a need to mention names, but you can tell them about a conversation you had with a neighbor about the gospel. Encourage them by sharing the story of a relative you invited to dinner and the discussion you had about spiritual things. Spur them on with similar (are recent) stories of how you have been able to reach others for Christ.
It would help if everyone in your church had an accountability partner in evangelism. Simply asking one another each month, “Have you reached out to a non-Christian this past month?” can make an immeasurable difference. However, in keeping with setting an example, if you want them to have an accountability partner, you should have one as well.
Peter encourages church leaders to be “examples to the flock.” (I Peter 5:3) That would include evangelism. Over and over I’ve personally seen the big difference between churches where the pastor is an example in evangelism, not merely an exhorter.
Enthusiasm for Sharing the Gospel
There is a vast difference between talking about evangelism and talking about evangelism with enthusiasm. I often tell pastors a story about a father whose wife had just given birth to their first child – a baby girl. He was so excited, he was running down the hospital halls saying, “It’s a father! It’s a father! I’m a girl! I’m a girl!” Congregations need to see that kind of excitement from the pulpit about evangelism.
Enthusiasm is catching and contagious. Consider the Samaritan woman in John 4 who said to the men of the city, “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” (v.29) She was not merely making an announcement, she was exciting them about a Person.
The need to evangelize cannot merely come across as an announcement. It has to be an invitation to one of the most exciting things on earth – being used of God to change someone’s eternal destiny. As you discuss reaching unbelievers, they ought to so capture your example and enthusiasm, that they begin thinking, “I want to do what he does – talk to somebody about Christ.” With that in mind, they begin thinking of who they know and how to develop the needed contacts with them.
Education about How to Share their Faith
Example and enthusiasm alone with not produce an evangelistic congregation. People need to know how to turn conversations to spiritual things, give a clear presentation of the gospel, overcome their fears, answer important questions unbelievers might have, and even disciple a new convert. In one word they need training. Training will help them conquer the two difficulties all believers have in evangelism – fear and not knowing how.
It is important though that education in evangelism be first of all Biblical. It needs to be training that is in line with how the Bible approaches evangelism and what it teaches. God promises to bless His Word, not ours – so training in evangelism needs to be in accordance with what the Bible says.
It also needs to be grace-based privilege not guilt-based burden. Your congregation must be reminded often that the burden is not on them to save anyone – and they need not feel guilty if someone says no to the gospel. We are responsible for contact; God is responsible for conversion. As such, we are freed to share the message of salvation as a grace-based blessing, not a burden.
Finally, encourage them often. As my mentor Haddon Robinson use to say, “Be on their team, not their back.” Recognize that many of them do want to talk to others about the Lord. They just have particular obstacles, namely fear and lack of know how, that they need to overcome.
Put these three together in a church – example, enthusiasm, and education – and you will not be able to keep your congration from reaching out. What was said of the apostles will soon be said of the members of your church “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.” (Acts 5:42)
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Dallas, TX 75370-3929