7 Reasons Why Pastoral Leadership is So Critical to Producing an Evangelistic Church

If you’ve read much of what I write, you’ve heard me say at some point, “I’ve never seen a strongly evangelistic church without a strongly evangelistic pastor leading them.” I stand by that statement after more than 25 years of evaluating churches. Here’s why I think pastoral leadership is so critical in this task:

    1. A pastor’s shadow falls long on a congregation. That’s especially the case if the pastor has been in that role for some time. What the pastor emphasizes, the church at least hears; what the pastor is silent on, the church gives little attention. A strongly evangelistic pastor will let his passion be known. 
    2. Many churches have never seen an evangelistic role model—and their pastor can be their first. They may have heard they should evangelize their neighbors and family members, but hearing the challenge is not the same as seeing that heart lived out. When the pastor who speaks to the church Sunday after Sunday regularly evangelizes, the church will have their role model. 
    3. Most church members do not default into evangelism; instead, they need a push from a trusted pastor. I would hope that believers would always maintain the evangelistic fire they had when they first turned to Christ, but that’s seldom the case. Most members “settle down” at some point and lose their zeal for telling the Good News of Jesus. They need someone whose evangelistic life is credible to challenge them – and their pastor has the most leverage to do so. 
    4. Pastors can model evangelism inside the church and outside it. Pastors who preach the Word should be sharing the gospel week after week from the pulpit. In that way, they model a gospel presentation each week. At the same time, though, they must not limit their evangelism to a “y’all come and hear” methodology; they must also get outside the walls of the church and model for their church what initiatory evangelism looks like. Their opportunity to influence others is huge. 
    5. Pastors have the opportunity to tell stories of evangelism. All believers face the danger of being cocooned among other believers, but that’s especially the case for pastors. Those pastors, though, who intentionally get out of their offices to meet non-believers, take the time to tell them the gospel, and then rejoice publicly when they become believers, set the evangelistic trajectory for a church. 
    6. On the other hand, pastors who don’t evangelize generally don’t talk much about it, either. Even if they are expository preachers working through books of the Bible, they’ll not likely spend much time on any text that emphasizes evangelism. It’s just easier to skim the surface of such a text than dig deeply into it and ultimately bring conviction on yourself.
    7. Lead pastors can hold other pastors, staff members, and church leaders accountable for evangelism. My experience is that many evangelistic pastors not only expect believers to evangelize, but they also equip them and hold them accountable. You typically cannot serve long with them if your heart doesn’t capture that same beat for evangelism. 

The significance of the pastor’s influence on a church’s evangelism is one reason why we at Church Answers challenge pastors to take the lead in “The Hope Initiative” (a resource to help churches “jumpstart” their evangelistic efforts). We’ve seen great results from this initiative—and I’m convinced pastoral leadership over the process is a primary reason why that’s the case.

Posted on April 3, 2024


Dr. Chuck Lawless is a leading expert in spiritual consultation, discipleship and mentoring. As a former pastor, he understands the challenges ministry presents and works with Church Answers to provide advice and counsel for church leaders.
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1 Comment

  • Your insight into the pivotal role of pastoral leadership in fostering evangelism within a congregation is both profound and affirming. I couldn’t agree more with your assertion that a strongly evangelistic pastor sets the tone for the entire church community. Your points regarding the pastor’s influence through both modeling and verbal encouragement highlight the significance of their role as not only spiritual leaders but also evangelistic examples.

    I appreciate how you emphasize the need for pastors to engage in evangelism both within and beyond the church walls, illustrating the importance of personal initiative and relational evangelism. Your perspective on the impact of pastors’ storytelling and accountability mechanisms further underscores the multifaceted nature of pastoral leadership in cultivating a culture of evangelism.

    As a fellow believer passionate about spreading the Good News, your reflections serve as both a challenge and an encouragement to prioritize evangelism in my own life and ministry. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and experience on this crucial aspect of church leadership.

    Warm regards,