When we think about evangelism, our minds often go to outlets churches provide for people to invite someone to church. We often think a great community event or a special Easter service is the perfect time to bring people in and share the gospel with our friends and acquaintances. This is usually when attendance numbers rise, and we can be amazed at full auditoriums and some awesome decisions to trust Christ!
While these events and opportunities are great, is this truly equipping our congregations to have the heart of Christ and the compassion of winning people with the gospel? Or is it just teaching them that the church is responsible for providing the outreach opportunities? Are they solely relying on church functions to win their friends to Christ?
Here are three ways to instill a heart of evangelism in your members, so they don’t solely rely on the church’s outreach events:
1. Have a mission.
If you don’t remind people weekly of the mission of the gospel, they will not remember to live that mission out for themselves. We must weave the gospel into everything we do as a church. Our worship music, prayer and preaching should have the gospel laced throughout its entire core. We can even incorporate this mission by having it written on the walls of the church.
The “mission” should be everywhere! Our congregations should leave the doors on Sunday ready to share their faith and start their week looking for opportunities in how they can fulfill that mission.
There should be a soberness for the finality of eternity to remind them, but a strong hope that they could be used by God to reflect the love of Jesus and attract people to Him.
2. Encourage them to start a Bible study in their neighborhood.
We all love group Bible studies, and it seems that there are always a few eager people wanting more of them. We are a program filled generation, and our churches are bursting with more programs, more Bible studies, more moms’ groups and community groups than we can handle.
Pastors feel the weight of having to provide more programs and events to meet everyone’s needs, but is this really the mission of the Church? A pastor is only one man, and his wife can only handle so many Bible studies a week, along with discipling and equipping young believers.
“If you build it, they will come.”
What if we encourage those eager ones, build — or start — a Bible study in their neighborhood, apartment complex or community? Imagine our church members holding Bible studies, not just with the members of their own churches, but with the lost ones in their neighborhoods, in their own backyard! What would our churches look like then? They would potentially explode!
This model of encouraging your church members to befriend the lost and begin intentional relationships with them, even before the thought of a Bible study, can be a reality. This is a process that may take a lot of time on their part but encourage them in that time. Their efforts are worth it.
3. Live what you preach.
To be honest, if you aren’t personally living out this mission, very few will catch on to this vision for your church. As the pastor and as the pastor’s wife, you must begin this. It starts by having lost people into your home. Making friends with “publicans and sinners” and building a genuine relationship with them. All while making Christ attractive. It’s amazing what being vocal about Jesus will do and how it will make Him attractive to them.
We recently bought a home right before the pandemic hit. We met many of our new neighbors but didn’t have time to get to know them well. My wife and kids wrote verses on the sidewalk in front of our new home along with our Instagram name. We had several people start to follow us on that Instagram account where my wife speaks a lot about Jesus, (along with DIY projects, home and ministry). This led to a neighbor trusting Christ after hearing how attractive Jesus was! She and my wife began a 14-week Bible study they recently completed. That same neighbor — she’s Armenian — has recruited another young woman to join them for a second Bible study and has the future goal of a larger Bible study, in Armenian, for the rest of the street.
Vision and the mission start with us. We can never expect to have a church that lives on mission if we ourselves don’t. As pastors we can coast on the growth the church members are bringing in. We feel good about ourselves if guests are trusting Christ and people are getting baptized. But are any of those new guests coming in being brought by us personally? Are we reaching our own neighborhoods? If not, we need to refocus our vision.
A NEW LOVE
While I don’t usually like to promote “works” on social media, it has proven to help light a fire under our church people during this time of staying at home. It has sparked a newfound love for people to see what God is doing in our own home and neighborhood. That is where social media can be a great tool for growth.
Encouraging our church validates that we do have a purpose where God has planted us both in time and history and in our establishment.
That apartment your church member is living in, is not just an apartment — it’s a mission field. That hiking group becomes a place to make Jesus attractive. That mom’s workout group becomes a place you can share what God is doing in your life.
We must constantly place the gospel mission before the eyes and minds of our people. It must be constantly in their thoughts as they pass each person by. They should be breathing each breath knowing the next relationship can be a way to share Jesus.
But it starts with us.
Nick has been involved in pastoral ministry for more than 12 years. He is the founding pastor of CityLight in Burbank, California and has a passion to reach Los Angeles with the gospel of Jesus. Nick loves Dodgers baseball and spending time with his family.
Published April 1, 2021