Making the Gospel Priority One in Our Churches
God wants our churches to grow through conversion by reaching people for Christ and training them to reach others. Simply put, He wants our churches to prioritize the gospel and in so doing impact the community for Christ. The gospel is meant to be priority one.
Everything worth doing involves a cost of some kind. So, what does it cost a church when it prioritizes the gospel?
After 47 seven years of training pastors and congregations, I’ve seen five particular costs that are almost universal.
The cost of time to train your people
A church that prioritizes the gospel recognizes the need to train their people in outreach. The reason many believers don’t evangelize is they don’t know how, or they are afraid. Training is essential.
That training needs to be first of all in the area of making sure your people have a clear understanding of the simplicity of the gospel. The Bible is 66 books; the gospel is ten words – Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead (I Corinthians 15:3-5).
The people must then be taught a method to share the gospel – one they can use with anybody anywhere.
That kind of training involves time. It is not done overnight – time that sometimes needs to be taken from other things so that more time can be given to equip your people to pursue the Great Commission.
The cost of resources for reaching out
Salvation is free, but it costs to get that message out to the world.
Tracts, community outreach strategies, events that attract & engage non-Christians, follow-up materials/guides for new converts, the creation of digital channels to reach an online generation, and more all have a price tag to them. That is why a church that prioritizes the gospel has to budget finances for local evangelism. How much of your budget? You can determine that by asking different age groups in your church about what kind of materials, events, etc would attract others like them? Their answers can be a great first step to researching the cost involved in reaching out.
The cost of gospel-focused sermon preparation
If you are the pastor, you have to think through every message more carefully than ever. You want to preach the Word because that is what God has instructed you to do. (II Timothy 4:2) But when a church prioritizes the gospel, visitors who are not believers begin attending as God draws them to hear the gospel. That’s so important to remember. God draws people to the gospel. That means you’ll have to think through how you are going to explain the Scriptures in a way that is both understandable and relevant to them. A sermon prepared with unbelievers in mind is not put together as quickly and as easily as one strictly for believers. You have to message both audiences.
That also means you yourself will have to spend time with non-Christians. You have to know what non-Christians are saying and thinking in order to be effective in talking to them.
The cost of recruiting and training volunteers
A church that prioritizes the gospel needs workers – what the Bible calls laborers (Luke 10:2). Unfortunately, not everyone in your church is one. Football has been described as 22 people on the field desperately needing rest and 22,000 in the bleachers desperately needing action. The same is often true in the church – too few active workers. It takes a host of volunteers.
Since you only have so many people to work with, you have to decide what you are going to put on a person’s plate and also what you are going to take off to make evangelistic efforts more of a priority. Each person can only do so much.
The cost of sacrificing popularity
Prioritizing the gospel is always the right thing to do. You are acting in obedience to what is called the Great Commission. “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15) It is not always the popular thing to do.
Some people do not like to be told they are sinners. But unless they come to Christ as a sinner, they cannot come. Jesus plainly said, “For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Matthew 8:13) A church that prioritizes the gospel needs to be characterized by grace and truth – the truth needs to be told in the right way. But nonetheless some people in the community may prefer a church that makes them “feel good” every time they come. Or they may prefer a church that instead of explaining the Bible and the gospel talks about “Three keys to happy living” or “Four ways to be successful”. The gospel is not always a popular message.
Popularity may also be a cost in terms of your own people. I have actually met believers who do not want a church that keeps evangelism in front of them every month.
I am often amused when I hear people talk about something they are about to do and remark, “It won’t cost a thing.” I have not seen anything worth doing that does not cost something. A church that prioritizes the gospel suffers a cost as well. But the ultimate end is seeing their people and resources utilized for something eternal – the populating of heaven. With that in mind, any cost is worth it, and no cost is too great.
PO Box 703929
Dallas, TX 75370-3929