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)