In reviewing a church’s history, it’s much more likely to find them an evangelizing church during their early years than their later ones. Frankly, most churches lose the evangelistic passion that marked them in their beginning. Here are some reasons why:
- In their early days, reaching lost people is part of their vision – but that focus decreases as the church grows. No longer are they driven to evangelize as much once the church reaches critical mass.
- As the church matures, leaders give their attention to internal matters. Questions like what type of polity will we have, when will we build (if we do), what curriculum will we follow, and others divert attention from evangelism.
- Pastoral care requires more time as the church grows. It’s really a simple formula: more people in the congregation = more needs to meet and more requests for care. It’s tough to meet those needs and evangelize, too.
- Leaders fail to equip others to help them do ministry. Instead of delegating work so they can keep casting vision for evangelism, they wind up carrying all the responsibilities themselves. Evangelism almost always takes a back seat then.
- Fellowship—as great as it can be—becomes self-protective. That is, the church loves to be together because it feels like a “safe place” from a messed-up and chaotic world. Churches in protection mode seldom invite outsiders to join them.
- Transfer growth takes their attention off evangelism. The church might well be growing, but it’s growing by swapping sheep with other congregations. That growth—consistent though it may be—lulls the church to sleep evangelistically.
- The church plans so many activities that members have no time left to develop relationships with non-believers. The growing church offers more activities, and they often quietly expect members to participate in everything. The result is busy members who don’t know non-believers.
- Nobody’s paying attention to conversion numbers. They may have been burdened about those numbers during the early days of the church, but not so much anymore. Accountability decreases, and so does evangelism.
- Leaders don’t teach enough about the lostness of human beings. I’m convinced many members believe good people are going to heaven apart from a relationship with Christ—and only consistent biblical teaching will change their perspective. Too little teaching on this topic leads to too little evangelism.
What would you add to this list?
Posted on September 23, 2020
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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I believe Church covered all of the bases in these nine reasons. The one that came to my mind may be part of the equipping segment of evangelizing, but it is none the less a major factor for people to not even thinking about evangelizing, which is a lack of motivation. The “motivating” comes from focusing on the Great Commission and every believer’s obedience to that command from Jesus.
Totally agree with your essay. Evangelism is losing out to entertaining. If every child of God would tell how God has changed their life to one person a week, we couldn’t build churches big enough or fast enough to hold them. Jesus said “Go”. He did not say herd the people into the temple.
Agree with the 9 reasons. May the Lord revive us and renew our burden for the lost souls.
This list is so good. I’d only take exception to #9 because in many circles, it’s not that they don’t believe a bad doctrine about salvation. It’s that they have stopped having a heavy burden for people going into eternity without Christ, they have simply given up, or they actually treat “those people” with disdain – even good people who are otherwise quite nice. And some Christians are burdened for the lost, but feel like they aren’t equipped to “evangelize” and so they don’t even try to.
Thank you for your comments Robin. I have recently moved to a new state. I am in the process of finding a new church family. I have visited five church’s. I finally found one . However it is an Evangelical Presbyterian Church. I told the pastor “ I’m just not there yet”. As Robin put it “not equipped “. I have been praying, studying, and listening. Amen.
So easy to get doing busy work that we forget to do the most important work of reaching those with the Gospel of Christ.