Fear not! 8 steps to leading an evangelistic church
Instead of pursuing others with the gospel, we cocoon ourselves with other Christians who already know it.
Christians struggle to evangelize unbelievers for the same reason criminals struggle to find policemen—most are not looking for one. Instead of pursuing others with the gospel, we cocoon ourselves with others who already know it. Drawing near to Christ will submerse us in believer’s fellowship, but it will also thrust us toward others who are on their way to hell. If our corporate worship doesn’t result in individual evangelism, we’re doing it wrong.
Worship that truly exalts Jesus Christ will always result in gospel proclamation. That is the heart of a centrifugal church, constantly pressing believers into the world as “salt and light” (Matt 5:13-16). Jesus prescribed our evangelism strategy in simple and direct words, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15). If we know enough of the gospel to be saved, we know enough to tell someone else. The repentant thief hanging no the cross next to Jesus had no problem calling the other thief to believe in Christ. Neither should we. Our problem is not ignorance, our problem is pride. The solution is not information; the solution is action.
Put even simpler, meet unbelievers and talk to them about Jesus. That is evangelism. The Great Commission is an individual responsibility that will not be fulfilled in silence, but in conversations that confront unrighteousness with the kindness of God that leads us to repentance (Rom 2:4). Here are a few ways to accelerate evangelistic DNA in your church:
1. Spring load the gospel.
This isn’t complicated, if you’re saved, you know enough of the gospel to present it to someone else. However, it takes work to be clear and understandable. Memorize the foundational gospel components and key verses. With those stamped in mind, work daily to recite it and role play with others. You may not always have your Bible in hand when an evangelistic opportunity presents itself, so memorize the message. Be alert and stay ready!
2. Recruit a prayer team.
The hard work of evangelism begins on our knees, petitioning God to work in the hearts of those we pursue. In humility and dependency, following the example of Paul in praying for others (Rom 10:1) and watch as God answers pray in increased opportunities to proclaim His gospel. Recruit two or three people to pray for those in your mission field. This invites accountability, conversational ideas and encouragement.
3. Live excellent.
Live with integrity. Peter wrote “Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Pet 2:12). Live so that when our name crosses the mind of unbeliever’s they associate us with Jesus. The most clear and accurate gospel presentation is muted if unbelievers identify us by patterns of sin instead righteousness. In humility, repent when we sin, and use our failures to magnify God’s mercy. Keep in mind that our example may be the first expose many receive to the transforming power of the gospel.
4. Engage your mission field.
Be specific. God in His sovereign grace, placed you alongside unbelievers – in your neighborhood, family and at work. Don’t talk about them, talk with them. Keep track of where you left off and build with each subsequent conversation. This is your first mission field. Every unbeliever in our life should both know our identity as a Christian and know our desire to see them come to believe in Christ as Savior and Lord.
5. Create new mission fields.
Along the way, create new mission fields, finding new ways to interact with unbelievers. Talk to your neighbors, frequent the same stores, volunteer at a local school, become a chaplain for a hospital, police department or business, help in a community project, visit a retirement home with your family, have dinner at a rescue mission, go out of your way to introduce yourself to others, etc. These ideas and more help to create new networks that open up new mission fields for gospel ministry.
Here’s a place to start, take the “two-minute challenge” Give yourself no more than 2 minutes to identify yourself with Christ when meeting someone new! As an ambassador of Christ, be quick to let others know who you represent (2 Cor. 5:20). Say something that lets another know you belong to, have been forgiven by, are loved by, are trusting in God, etc. That way, as your conversations develop, you’ve already identified with Christ right away.
6. Relentlessly love other believers.
Jesus says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). Christian’s biblically loving one another make the love of Christ visible for the world to see. How are the “one another’s” made visible in our relationships with other believers? Does your love for other believers lend credibility to your gospel presentation?
7. Lead by example.
No matter your age, level of responsibility or visibility within the church, you can lead by example. the heart of Paul’s encouragement to timothy is to lead by example despite his youth (1 Tim 4:12). Some of the greatest evangelists are those whose names we won’t ever know, but were relentlessly faithful to tell others about Jesus. Don’t wait for someone else to lead by example, take initiative and set the pace as the Spirit works through you.
8. Celebrate salvation.
Never lose sight of the miracle that happens in new birth. If heaven explodes in celebration in response to the new birth, so should we. One way to do this is to share testimonies often. We can never hear enough of the work Christ has done in drawing someone to salvation. Incorporate the recounting of salvation wherever possible. Doing so reminds us of the many ways the gospel penetrates hearts and how God chooses to use saved sinners in that process.
The apostle Paul told the Corinthians that he delivered to them “as of first importance what [he] also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3). For you to do faithful evangelism, the gospel must be of first importance to you. Only then will you overcome the challenges that have prevented you from boldly sharing the gospel with unbelievers.