5 Steps for Church Leaders to help Churches Recover Evangelism
by Micah Fries
“Don’t tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.” If that’s the case, I think an argument can be made that Evangelicals have abandoned any actual belief in evangelism. We have become a missionary people without a mission. We have turned evangelism and mission into bywords that are used incessantly but are buttressed with very little actual engagement or action on the part of the typical Christian.
A study conducted by LifeWay Research found 80 percent of those who attend church one or more times a month believe they have a personal responsibility to share their faith, but 61 percent have not told another person about how to become a Christian in the previous six months. Only 25 percent of churchgoers say they have shared their faith once or twice over the last six months. The Evangelical church can claim to be an evangelistic people – a church on mission – but the behavior betrays their belief. The facts are in and it is clear, the church has a behavior problem that is fueled by a belief problem.
So what can we do about it? It’s definitely easier said than done, with that said I’d like to offer five simple but often abandoned commitments that your church might want to reconsider.
First things first, don’t make this too difficult. Find someone who doesn’t know Jesus and somehow share with them the hope of the gospel. Understandably many christians have been uncomfortable with various forms of evangelism that distort the gospel message but I fear that our discomfort has led to evangelistic paralysis. Don’t over complicate it; find a way to share the gospel that’s comfortable to you and use it. Sure someone may complain about the way you do evangelism but, if they do, reply the Way D.L. Moody supposedly replied when someone complained about his evangelism methodology: “I like the way I do evangelism better than the way you don’t do evangelism.”
Make evangelism accessible.
Often the people in our church don’t understand how simple gospel sharing can be. Help your people to understand that little things like hospitality – inviting someone into your home for a meal – is an easy and powerful way to develop friendships and easily find opportunities to share the gospel. Don’t over dramatize evangelism and mission. Be careful not to over-program evangelism. Evangelism programs can be very helpful but when they are all we do, our people rarely live evangelistic lives. They view evangelism as an event rather than a typical part of everyday life.
Train your church.
If you are a pastor or church leader ask yourself when the last time was that you led the church in corporate evangelism training. One of my seminary professors, Don Whitney, used to say in class, All reformation begins with teaching. His point is well taken. You can’t expect your church to be an evangelistic church if you aren’t training them to be so from the platform. Make evangelism a priority in the pulpit. If you are looking for a great resource, Greg Laurie (who is one of the premier mass evangelists alive today) has created a great new tool to train churches called Tell Someone.
Use evangelism tools.
There are a lot of great tools out there. There are also a lot of people who don’t like using the evangelism tools out there. If you don’t like using tools, and you’re regularly sharing the gospel, than go for it. For most people, though, having a tool at your disposal can be a real help. There are still plenty of tracts available. The church has been using them for years. Thankfully, though, we have great and innovative folks who are developing fantastic digital tools that you can download on your phone and always have at your disposal. Two that I particularly like are The Story app and the Three Circles app [Apple and Android].
Celebrate the success stories.
Pastors and churches radically underestimate the power of celebration. Ed Stetzer is prone to say, What you celebrate, you become. And he’s right. Unfortunately we miss a lot of opportunities to promote evangelism (and other important steps of discipleship) because we waste the opportunity to celebrate together as God works in people’s lives. The next time someone in your church comes to faith, share their story on the platform live, or record it via video. If someone in the church led them to faith, do the same thing. Celebrate the things that matter, and your church will follow suit.