5 Steps To Creating A Culture of Evangelism In Your Church

By Brandon Hilgemann

It is a sad reality today that many churches are simply not reaching many people for Christ.

No, it’s not all about numbers. Yes, fellowship and discipleship are important. But if we are trying to follow the great commission, why are we not doing more to try to reach more people?

Put simply, I believe it is because we have not created a culture of evangelism in our churches. Somewhere along the way, many churches have lost their evangelistic fervour.
If we want to create a culture of evangelism in our churches, I believe there are at least 5 things that we must do.

1. Model Evangelism Yourself

You cannot expect your people to do something that you yourself are not doing. It is as simple as that.

You can only lead people as far as you have gone yourself. If you are not actively seeking evangelistic opportunities, your people won’t either.

This should be a given, but I know this is something I need to get better at myself.

It is easy to get so consumed in the busy work of being a pastor that we neglect our own obligation to reach out to people who are not part of our church.

2. Preach Evangelism

It surprises me how many churches desire to grow but never preach a sermon about how important it is for Christians to actually reach out to others.

Why don’t we hear more sermons on how important it is for Christians to invite friends, neighbours, family members, and co-workers to church?

If you want your church to be more evangelistic, tell them to be. Preach from the many passages of scripture where people introduce others to Jesus. Then, tell your people that life and death are literally in the balance for them to do the same!

If Heaven and Hell are real, we had better start acting like it. Why aren’t we doing more to rescue those headed for eternal separation from God?

3. Create Environments Where Non-Believers Are Welcomed And Expected

In your preaching, don’t just address Christians. Always assume that there are skeptics, non-believers, or people who don’t know what to believe in the room.
If you always talk in a way that assumes everyone is a Christian, then people who aren’t Christians will know this isn’t a place for them. However, if you regularly address those in the room who are not Christians or are on the fence, you accomplish two things:

1. You communicate that people who aren’t Christians (yet) are welcome at your church.

2. You create a place where people can feel comfortable inviting their non-christian neighbours because they know you will speak to them too.

When you preach about something that is confusing or “weird” in the Bible, address it. Don’t just assume that the average person accepts miracles in the Bible or other seemingly outrageous concepts such as animal sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins.

When you are doing things in church that the average Christian takes for granted (communion, baptism, etc.), explain it to those who may not be familiar with it.

Here is the bottom line: People will not invite other people to your church if they don’t think it is a safe place for them.

If they are worried that their coworker will come to church for the first time and hear a sermon that has no application to their lives whatsoever, they simply won’t invite them.

However, if they know that you address people in their coworker’s situation every single week, there will be one less fear in the way of them to make the invite.

4. Create Good Excuses For People to Invite Others to Church

This one seems obvious to me, but again, many churches don’t do this.

Create a good excuse for people to invite people. Maybe it’s as simple as having a block party with free food after the services. Maybe you have an attraction like bounce houses for young families with kids. Maybe you have a fun event like a car show or carnival. Maybe you just take advantage of natural times to come to church like Christmas and Easter.

Whatever you do, circle a day on your calendar and promote it. Tell your people that you want them to invite people that day.

It sounds really simple, but again, many churches don’t do it. They have events, but the events are for members and fellowship. Clearly tell people that you want them to invite people to these events. Give them simple tools like invite cards to hand out. You will be surprised how much this works to introduce new people to your church.

5. Celebrate Evangelism

When someone comes to your church and gives their life to Christ, celebrate it! When people get baptised, celebrate it! When someone in your church invites someone, celebrate it! When you hear about spiritual conversations that your people are having with friends or co-workers, celebrate it! When attendance is up, celebrate it!

Whatever gets celebrated in your church will get repeated. Celebrating evangelism shows everyone that this is what your church values. If the angels in Heaven celebrate whenever a lost person is found, it might be a good idea if we did too.

Make a big deal about it, because it is a big deal!

Will You Do This?

Building an evangelistically focused church starts with you. If you model evangelism, preach evangelism, create evangelistic environments, promote evangelistic opportunities, and celebrate evangelism… your church will naturally become an evangelistic church.

Some of you are already creating a culture of evangelism in your church. Great job. Don’t give up. Keep pushing the kingdom of God forward.

Some of you are part of a church that has long forgotten its evangelical roots. It is not too late to begin turning things around. God still wants to use your church to advance His kingdom.

This is not about the size of your church. It’s about the size of our mission to make disciples of all nations for Jesus Christ.

Let’s do this together. Let’s build a culture of evangelism in our churches so that more people may find the hope, peace, love, forgiveness, and purpose that we have all found in Christ.

This post was originally published at Lifeway’s Pastor’s Today blog

(Used with permission)

Sex – The Relationship Challenge

How do we manage the sexualisation of our culture?

How can we help our kids develop healthy relationships when they see sexual imagery at every turn and mouse click?

This is the first of the new series The Relationship Challenge, and it’s all about sex. You can read it here
 
This is the first in the latest series, looking at various cultural dynamics impacting on relationship formation.
 
Feel free to comment on the blog.
 
Much love,
 
Dave

Relationships are not easy

Why are relationships so hard?

We have two people, a man and a woman, who have feelings for each other. While they are on cloud nine, life is good. For a while. The closer they get, the easier it is to misunderstand each other.

It’s probably true that no two people always see eye to eye. Open communication means times of laughter and joy, but also times of honesty and accountability. These are times of growth and challenge.

I’ve been thinking recently that our culture does not make it easy for relationships to thrive. Here are some reasons:

* we have a skewed view of sex

* we have this idea that the ideal partner will just present herself, and it will be love at first sight, and the green grass will grow all around

* we believe this lover of our dreams will finally make us happy and meet all our needs

* people preparing for marriage face the financial Everest of their wedding day. With typical celebrations running into tens of thousands of dollars

* good communication skills do not come hard wired in our DNA. More often than not, god communication is a learned skill. If healthy communication has not been a feature of our parents, we’re already starting behind the eight ball

This is why my next teaching series is focussing on the things in our culture which make doing relationship harder than it needs to be.

My first instalment focuses on how our culture’s view of sex does not lead to freedom, but generally to significant complications with how we do relationship. You have to wonder: if our kids modelled their relationships on Hollywood, what sort of families we will have.

So, we’re focussing on these things in an effort to uncover what Scripture teachers. We want to hear God’s word and live God’s life. The prayer is that we ourselves, and the coming generation, will have healthier relationships and be better equipped to bring Jesus’ new life to expression.

Following each Sunday, each sermon will be published at Sermon & Study

A Sermon & A Study

I have decided to publish my weekly sermons on a new blog site, and provide a study for Home Groups with each sermon I post.

It’s what I am doing anyway: here at Gateway I write my sermons in the form of a full manuscript, and I also prepare weekly Home Group questions, so it’s only a little editing and they are ready to go on the blog.

I started this for a few reasons. One, there are plenty of people who like to read messages. I believe the Word of God is used by the Spirit to lead his people. And if my messages can be used like that, even beyond their typical Sunday context, I am all for it.

A second reason is that some people don’t have much access to word ministry. This blog, and others like it, might be an encouragement to them.

Third, the Home Group or Bible Study questions can work for groups of Christian meeting in a variety of contexts. They are designed to assist with applying the word to personal and communal situations, and encourage all who engage to be transformed by God’s word.

Feel free to sign up for the new feed!

I am keen to hear how these work for you. Please feel free to leave feedback and suggestions.

Grace and peace,

Dave

Pentecost

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Initially, I felt like an outsider. I was different to everybody else. I was from a different country. I spoke a different English. Most obvious of all? I looked different: my skin was a different colour. All of this was a totally new experience.

A few of us were visiting the Christian Cultural Centre in Brooklyn, N.J. and we were like fish out of water. Five white Australians amongst thousands of African Americans. We had visited other churches on our trip, but here the racial divide was more evident than ever.

I don’t recall wondering whether we would be accepted or not. I didn’t have time. We were greeted warmly, we walked in, found a seat, and the service began. As people sang they moved with the rhythm. Their gestures full of praise and emotion, lyric and feeling in one organic expression.

…we felt like we belonged

We had found seats among a throng of regulars. No great skills of perception were required for them to notice we were ‘from out of town’. None of that seemed to matter. And surprisingly, when we were encouraged to join prayer with the people around us, they drew us into their prayer and into their hearts like we were old family friends. They were sharing their struggles, their joys, their lives. We shared who we were, and some of the things on our heart, and they prayed for us like we were just one of them.

Here’s the thing: the fact that we were visitors was immaterial. Our different culture was invisible. Not an issue. Irrelevant. We were brothers and sisters in Christ, and for that hour we felt like we belonged. No one had to tell us we were welcome there, or to make ourselves at home, we were so warmly embraced, we were prayed for, we were loved, we were accepted. Community happened beyond any words that might have been spoken.

…when God’s Spirit is present, genuine community is formed

In the book of Acts, there are several key times when the church expands and receives people who had previously been on the outer. Samaritans are drawn in (Acts 8), as are non Jewish peoples (Acts 11). I know there’s debate about some of the ways the Holy Spirit is manifested in these passages, but I actually don’t think those things are the focus of those passages. The real point is when God’s Spirit is present, genuine community is formed. People who had been broken, marginalised, despised and forsaken are by this Spirit drawn into community. Jesus breaks down all those barriers, overcomes all the chaos, dissolves fear, people come together, and God’s new community is born.

A pentecost church is a church where new community thrives. Where people are drawn in and where they feel like family. Where barriers are crossed, and Jesus’ transformation bring people together. Restored. Accepted. Forgiven. Renewed.

Q: How could you bring the new community of Jesus to expression in your church?

Our Eyes Need To Be Opened

How many of us have made the connection between the various forms of violence and the seemingly intractable poverty of the developing world?

I didn’t have a clue     ….until I read The Locust Effect.

Michael Choi’s comment on my last post reminded me that like many people, I just did not think about the causes of poverty, or the forces that were actually keeping people poor in the developing world. And yet:

  • My family sponsors a number of children through Compassion Australia. This wonderful program creates connections between supporters like us and the kids we sponsor. Right now, there are a few letters on our kitchen bench we can respond to. But here’s the thing: I had never seriously pondered the situation of the communities these children live in (Haiti and India), or that predatory coercive violence could be so pervasive in communities like these. I just didn’t think about it

I just didn’t think about it …

  • Our church family, the Christian Reformed Churches of Australia, have special appeals for humanitarian aid. I had never considered that in several of these countries there are factors at work, evil things really, that are responsible for perpetuating poverty and oppression. What our church and others do is wonderful work, and I am not suggesting anything other. But what will all our aid and good will do if we do not address the plague that lies at the heart of many of these communities? Seriously, I had never considered that question. But hardly a day goes by now when it does settle uncomfortably somewhere in my consciousness
  • On my office desk, I have the smiling photograph of a young woman who was conned with the promise of a better life. The train she was placed on went to a different city than the one she thought she was travelling to. When she arrived, her traffickers snatched her away and threw her into a brothel. She is smiling now because IJM rescued her and then prosecuted those who so violently abused her. Even here, I knew the story, but I was not aware how pervasive violent acts like these were. I thought it was a near one off case. I was a universe away from reality. Fact: There are millions of young girls and women in similar situations every day all over the world. In the video below there is a story of yet another young girl: watch and consider the fear that must weigh on developing world communities.

There’s also an eye opening fact sheet to draw you into what ‘everyday’ means for the poor of the developing world. Read 5 Stunning Facts About Violence on The Locust Effect’s excellent website

We are not in their world. We don’t know. And most of the time, we don’t even know how to begin to know, or feel, or act. When the questions don’t occur to us, how will we ever want to seek answers?

So the global poor have no one to advocate for them because we’re so blindingly ignorant of their desperate plight.

This is why we need to know. This is why our eyes need to be opened.

So, watch the video. Read the facts.

Then consider:

  • How does this impact me? What does it get me thinking about?
  • What could I be doing differently in response?
  • Do you think church communities in more wealthy nations need to change they way they do overseas mission and aid in response to these issues?

So, what’s with all the locust stuff?

In the 1870s a huge plague of locusts descended upon the American Midwest. Back then, the midwest was just being opened up, and the people who first settled there were living very remotely. Their very survive depended n their capacity to develop working farms and grow good crops. This was the tender existence upon which the biggest locust plague ever recorded in modern times descended.

It is estimated there were over 27 million tons of them. I don’t know how anyone weighs a locust plague, but the destructive power of this plague is well documented. No matter how people tried to protect themselves, the locusts continued on their destructive march. There are even accounts of people trying to cover at least some of their crops with blankets, but the locusts even ate the blankets! The plague was unimaginably powerful and totally unstoppable!

In his book, The Locust Effect, Gary Haugen makes the point that when the locusts descended, you can be sure the farmers weren’t thinking about whether to buy a new horse, or how to plough more effectively, or where to place the next fence. All that mattered was for the locusts to stop. Back in 1875 the locusts did not stop. Not only did farmers and their families loose livelihoods they had worked so hard for, some lost their lives, simply starving to death from the plague’s aftermath.

Sometimes I wonder how we have been so slow to see what has really been happening

In The Locust Effect, we learn that there is a plague on the world’s poor. Like locusts, it just keeps happening, and it needs to stop. In many developing countries the poor are subject to daily violence. They live outside of police protection. Justice systems are broken or dysfunctional. Corrupt forces within society do what they can to ensure the system stays broken, and they stay beyond the reach of the law.

Violence comes in many forms: sexual violence (primarily against women); forced land seizures (also primarily with female victims); forced labour and slavery. It also comes with the gut wrenching realisation that the police forces who are supposed to protect and serve society are in many developing world contexts perpetrators of violence against the poor. Watch this clip to get a sense of it all.

Wealthier countries have turned a blind eye to this plague, and many people – like me – who live in those countries have been ignorant of these malicious forces that are destroying so many lives on a daily basis. While we see such great work being done in the developing world, this plague is undermining everything that is being done, and preventing the world poor from thriving. The disturbing reality is this: unless we address the plague of violence everything else we do is only gong to have limited value.

There are no words to describe this evil

I must say, I have only understood this sobering reality after having been on the pre release review team for The Locust Effect. Sometimes I wonder how we have been so slow to see what has really been happening. I read the stories of lives broken or snuffed out, and more often than not I am just stunned. There are no words to describe this evil.

Here are a few things you can do to see how deep the problem is:

You can visit The Locust Effect page to learn more about the modern plague of violence at. You can also read a gripping section of The Locust Effect here.

You can also buy a copy of Haugen’s ground breaking book. These next few days any US sales will result in a $20 donation going straight to International Justice Mission. So buying the book is a great way to help the poor, and not just become informed about the issue.

Watch Gary Haugen talk about his purpose in writing The Locust Effect

PS. before you ask, the authors of The Locust Effect receive no royalties for the book, which is currently sitting around no.30 on the Amazon Best Seller list. All proceeds form the sale go toward ending violence against the world’s most vulnerable people.