Building an evangelistic culture in your church

By Ken Whitten

My spiritual daddy, Dr. Adrian Rogers (pastor, Bellevue Baptist, Memphis 1972-2005), who was both a hero and a mentor to me, often used to quip – “What’s down in the well always comes up in the bucket.” Isn’t that so true.

Jesus said the same thing only in a different way. “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Luke 6:45 NIV)

So is the saying, “Monkey see – Monkey do” a truism when it comes to building an evangelistic culture in your church? With deep conviction, I believe it is.

The apostle Paul said, “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)

Pastor, you are the pacesetter and the change-agent if indeed your church is to be known as an evangelistic church. Let me give you three non-negotiable things that you must model for your church to have an Evangelistic Culture:

  • Evangelism must be vocal.
  • Evangelism must be visible.
  • Evangelism must be viable.

Building an evangelistic culture begins with talking about evangelism from the pulpit. Our people replicate what we celebrate, and if you’re sharing your faith on a consistent basis, your people will know that because they will hear it in your messages, conversations and illustrations. Both successes and failures must be shared.

Unfortunately, many church members are like arctic rivers; they are frozen at the mouth.

We all know and have heard the biblical definition of a witness – “To testify to what we have seen and heard.”

This is true about our example of sharing our faith, but also sharing with our people about sharing our faith. It’s not bragging when it’s a fact – and bragging on Jesus and His grace-filled opportunities gives encouragement and conviction to the people you love and preach to week by week. Let them know they have a pastor who makes much of Jesus to lost family and friends. Be vocal.

People not only hear it, they see it. They see what we love, where our priorities are and what’s important to us in every tweet, Instagram and Facebook post.

Question: Do your last 30 posts on social media express to your church that you love seeing souls saved and love sharing the Good News?

As someone said, “We practice what we believe – the rest is just religious talk.” We simply cannot lead what we are not living.

One of the ways you can make evangelism visible is by having saved people in the baptistery with the new believer they influenced or led to Jesus Christ. The celebration may culminate in a baptism, but don’t minimize celebrating planting seeds, watering those seeds and also reaping that harvest. It’s not always about the person who was with them when they bowed their head and prayed the prayer.

In 1 Corinthians 3:6 ESV, Paul said, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.”

The harvest comes with three key factors – planting, watering and reaping. Make those visible. Visibly celebrate the people who are planting and watering – not only those who are reaping. To build an evangelistic culture, evangelism must be visible.

Webster defines viable as – “vivid, real, workable, capable of living, and stimulating to the senses, intellect, and imagination.”

God has called us to be fishers of men. To do that, we must be in an environment where not everyone is a Christian. At Idlewild, the by-line of our church is…“Hope for the one.” We have thousands who attend and worship, but we make it clear we are about the one. We constantly stress that to our people and ask this question – “Who’s your one?”

We want them to see their one may be a family member, co-worker, classmate, neighbor, golfing buddy or running partner. Seventy seven percent of those who come to church do so because someone invited them. That someone is usually a relative or a friend.

In a recent blog, Dr. Alvin Reid, professor of evangelism at Southeastern Seminary, posed four questions that I believe bear repeating here. D. James Kennedy once said, “Jesus didn’t organize a class called ‘Apostles’.” Before I give you the four questions, think about this. The disciples learned to pray, give, serve, minister and evangelize by first observing Jesus’ behavior, then mimicking His behavior as He coached them, and finally putting into action what they had learned. So you see, “Monkey See – Monkey Do” is a truism.

Let’s ask ourselves these four questions:

  • The last time I shared Christ with a lost person in the presence of a younger believer was _________ ?
  • The last time I had an unchurched person in my home was _____________ ?
  • The last time I was invited to, and went to, an unchurched person’s home was _____________ ?
  • The last time a believer thanked me for demonstrating (not telling) how to share Christ was _____________ ?

Published May 30, 2018

Ken Whitten

Ken Whitten is the Pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Florida. Idlewild Baptist Church was among the top 100 evangelistic churches in the country in 2014.