By Sam Rainer
Most of the unchurched are not anti-church. Few are highly antagonistic to the gospel. In fact, only about 5% of unchurched Americans are highly antagonistic to the gospel. Euangelion is the Greek word for good news, or gospel. Have believers today lost the “good” in good news? Negativity undoubtedly sells. Negative news reports get more eyeballs, as do negative posts on social media and blogs.
Eighty percent of churchgoers believe they have a personal responsibility to share their faith, yet 61% of them had not told another person about Christ in the last six months. The vast majority of Christians believe they should share their faith, but few actually do. Christians should be eternal optimists. The good news should compel us outward with love. If you’re leading a church, what can you do about the fact that most believers don’t share their faith?
Step 1: Admit the problem. In my own denomination, baptism follows conversion, and 25% of churches baptize no one in a given year. Additionally, more than half of churches in my denomination baptize less than one person every two months. Your church may be an anomaly, but most are struggling to reach people for Christ. And church leaders must do more than recognize the statistical reality. Church leaders must admit they are part of the problem as well.
Step 2: Lead by example. Evangelistic churches have evangelistic leaders. Though not an impossibility, I’ve yet to hear of an outwardly-focused church with inwardly-focused leaders. You cannot expect your church members to share their faith if you’re not leading the charge. Make it a goal to share your faith with someone every week. The median church size is 75 people. That means in most churches, if the leaders simply fulfill their responsibility of sharing the gospel, the church will grow.
Step 3: Stay positive. The gospel is good news. If you rant the gospel, it’s not the gospel. It’s just religious bluster, which does no good. Your tone is important, not as important as content, but close. The prosperity gospel warps the good news, but the poverty gospel sucks the life out of it. The gospel doesn’t bring your earthly riches. Neither does the gospel require extreme asceticism. But all Christians should be positive people. Without sacrificing sincerity and authenticity (life can be hard), the best way to share your faith is to focus on the good of the good news.
Step 4: Preach it. The lead pastor must regularly preach and teach about the importance of evangelism. The pulpit and platform are the means of communicating with an entire church. What gets communicated to the entire church is perceived as most important. Use the main stage to deliver the most central message: the gospel is meant to be shared.
Step 5: Train it. Preaching about the importance of sharing the gospel is one way to convey the gravity of being outwardly focused. But preaching is not enough. Each small group setting is an excellent place to do annual training on evangelism. These smaller settings enable people to ask questions and interact with teachers.
Step 6: Mentor it. Every pastor and church leader should have at least one mentee. One of the most critical aspects of mentoring someone in the church is demonstrating to him or her how to share the gospel. If your spiritual mentoring does not include evangelism, then you’re missing a big opportunity.
Step 7: Celebrate it. You become what you celebrate. If your church celebrates evangelism, then people will likely become more evangelistic. You should elevate the gospel over other aspects of church life. Tell the story of life change in people. A church that celebrates the new birth in Christ is more likely to think outwardly than a church that doesn’t celebrate it.
Most churches need a cultural change in order to become more evangelistic. In many churches, years have passed without much of an outward focus, and evangelistic atrophy has set in. The culture of many churches has slowly become one of an inward focus. These seven steps are more technical in nature.
Realistically, one evangelism training session won’t do much for a church that hasn’t thought outwardly in years. However, repeating these seven steps consistently will begin the process, gradually shifting the culture of the church.
After a couple of years, or perhaps even a few months, you might just find many people in your church getting excited about sharing the gospel again.
Posted on August 28, 2019
As President of Church Answers, Sam Rainer wears many hats. From podcast co-host to full-time Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Church, Sam’s heart for ministry and revitalization are evident in all he does.
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Good column. I do evangelize and preach & teach on it. I’ll add having a short testimony time in services helps evangelism by giving the chance to tell about how we’ve shared the Good News, the results thereof, and praying for those with whom we’ve talked. Tracts assist by letting us leave a reminder about the Gospel with those to whom we’ve witnessed.
I find it ironic that an article about gospel focus never mentions actually preaching the gospel.
To me gospel focused means being very intentional about preaching and teaching the gospel itself, not just preaching about sharing the gospel. After all, how can church members be expected to share the gospel if they don’t regularly hear the gospel? In my experience that is the most glaring deficiency in most churches.
Well written, however, lots and lots of good advice does not awaken the gospel joy in me. It’s the weekly saturation of the good news; that good news the angels long to look, that good news of what Jesus has done, that good news of which the width, breadth, width, height and depth can not be reached … that is what we all need to respond to the love of Christ for us. It’s not a “one and done” gospel, but weekly pointing me to Christ from the whole story from any point of Scripture. Also too, I need to be sure if I invite a friend, the message will point to Christ and His work. Good advice has it’s place, but joy comes in dwelling upon what Christ has done.
One of the very hard things I do every week is to select an eye catching or sound catching title the teaching. But the heart of this article is the meat and text. It is well written and thought out. Most of all the information touches me deep. Thank you for sharing with us.
I’m really not trying to be argumentative, but if the hardest thing you do is coming up with catchy titles, then maybe you’re too focused on marketing. Why not forget the titles and put that energy into wrestling with and discerning scripture. The best sermons I’ve heard usually have no title, just a scripture reference.
…and with a closer lens, what better way to be Gospel focused than to focus on sharing the Gospel? Quote from Roy Moran – “We’ve majored in teaching people to export propositions rather than to simply be open about their authentic experience with the living God.” In the latter case, sharing the Gospel with others actually drives ME to be more Gospel-centered.
Maybe we’re all splitting hairs on the title of the post, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing to read something you weren’t expecting… I wasn’t expecting it either ; )
I think from “30,000 feet” this article makes sense as defined in the top two paragraphs… How many of the congregation really stop to consider what the gospel means for their life beyond “getting into heaven”? If we really know and can articulate the good news of Jesus as applied to every area in our life, sharing the “good in the good news” becomes much more simple. Keep out of the ditches.. See Step 3: neither the prosperity Gospel nor the “poverty/legalistic gospel”
I totally agree with R. In my mind there is a huge difference between being Jesus focused and evangelism focused. If you focus on Jesus and building the heart and character of Christ into the folks being preached to, evangelism takes care of itself. When people get full of Jesus then His love, mercy and grace overflows in their daily environment to draw people to Christ.
Sam, I think that the title about being gospel-focused should have included something different than you covered. To say that people are not sharing the gospel is a true sentence. To get the heart of it, you should examine the why. There is far more to the gospel than evangelism. There is the trying to act like Jesus did which should come first.
Did you mean “Seven Steps Toward a Greater Evangelism Focus in Your Church”? When I read the title of the article, I was so excited to see something being written about churches becoming more deeply Christ-centered. But I found it ironic that a title could be self-help (7 steps to _____) & Christ-centered simultaneously. Unfortunately, this is self-help (law-centered… what we do to achieve something). I would love to read something Gospel-centered (what Christ does to achieve something in us, our churches, etc). The Gospel is for unbelievers & believers.
R – what one thing would you change to make the article Christ-centered? I would love to know, because to me, it harmonizes well with Christ’s command to “Go and make disciples”…
I agree. I got really excited at the title and then realized it wasn’t what I thought. Being Gospel centered is creating a church culture where obedience flows out of an appreciation of what Christ has done for us. I think that is a huge need in the church today.
Really Good post. Thanks Thom.