As pastors, we know the numerous scriptural commands concerning evangelism. We have heard sermons, sat in classes, and attended numerous conferences that have implored and trained us to be evangelistic in our pulpits and personal life. If you are called to pastor, you have the heart to see the lost come into a relationship with the Lord. As congregational leaders, we now have to take our passion for spreading the gospel to the next level by infusing that passion in our people. But how do we create an evangelistic culture within our congregations?”
As a young pastor excited to step into senior pastor ministry, I was unprepared for the task at hand. I walked into a loving congregation full of committed disciples hungry to grow in their knowledge and understanding of the Word, but developing a heart for evangelism was on the back burner for many. I realize this was not unique to my congregation. In fact, many Christians still believe that the vast majority of people they come into contact with know and love the Lord and have consistent church involvement, but we know that is a false perspective. So what must we do to push our congregation to become evangelistic?
Here are a few thoughts:
1. Define and demonstrate the importance of evangelism within your discipleship plan.
Use your discipleship strategies to demonstrate and teach the importance of evangelism. As you lead your people, regularly teach that disciples make disciples. Have the importance of evangelism taught and displayed in every discipleship format that you use. You must have every ministry in the church thinking evangelistically. Every ministry leader should lead with a heart for offering opportunities and training for those under their care to see, experience, and participate in the sharing of the gospel. If our discipleship plan does not urge and equip the believer to evangelize, we are not perpetuating scriptural discipleship.
2. Actively serve your community.
Teaching your people the importance of evangelism is crucial, but you must also give them opportunities to serve their community. Through these service opportunities, they must see you, your staff, and your leaders display evangelism. Make evangelism a cultural norm for your church where they see others sharing the gospel consistently. Don’t ask your congregation to do anything that you are not doing and publicly demonstrating. Lead by example. If you only share the gospel from the pulpit, how can you expect the church to act differently? Sheep follow their shepherd.
3. Lead your people on mission.
We must not forget the critical role that mission endeavors play in the health of establishing a congregation’s evangelistic culture. We can question how much good we are doing with specific overseas trips, but those trips often produce a sense of urgency to share the gospel for all involved. Show your people lost cultures, take trips, show videos, bring in missionaries. Bring an understanding of the lost and dying world to every generation of believers in your congregation. Be the broken record. We are called to make disciples, and we cannot disciple those who have not first been saved.
4. Present the gospel in every message.
We understand the necessity of highlighting the gospel in every text we exposit in hope that the Lord will use the message to bring the lost into his grace. What if we also view each altar call and gospel presentation that we give as a moment of training for our people in the practice of evangelism? Jordan Easley (Senior Pastor of FBC Cleveland, Tenn.) noted recently that his church members have been sharing the gospel using the same rhetoric and approach they hear him use every Sunday during the altar call. As we offer the gospel each week from our pulpits, our people are listening, and whether they realize it or not, we are showing them how to evangelize and lead someone to the Lord. Pay attention to how you give your altar calls. Ask yourself if what you are saying each week can be replicated by your listeners. Brothers, this is another reason to share the gospel in every message!
Celebrate baptisms and decisions. Churches have gotten away from presenting new believers at the end of the service, but find a way to rejoice with your people when the lost are found. If heaven rejoices when a sinner repents, so must our congregations. We have been charged with the responsibility of evangelism and discipleship, but I implore you not to allow your people to leave evangelism to the “experts.” Train them, teach them, and disciple them to think evangelistically in every capacity.