Seven Reasons Why Evangelism Should Be a Priority of Your Church

Evangelism is dying in many churches today.

No, that’s not an overstatement. I am not speaking hyperbolically.

Evangelism is dying.

Look at the data. Measure almost any group of churches today versus thirty years ago. You’ll likely find that only one person is being reached with the gospel for every forty to sixty church members. You will find that conversions have declined precipitously. And where you find numerical growth, you are more likely to find that the growth is transfer of Christians from one church to another. That’s not evangelism. That’s sheep shuffling.

Pastors and other leaders must fall on their faces before God and ask Him to reignite their congregations with an evangelistic passion. When evangelism dies as a priority in the church, the church has already begun to die.

So why should evangelism be one of the highest priorities in your church? Though the reasons are many, allow me to share seven of them.

  1. Because Christ commanded it. We typically refer to the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20 as our evangelistic and disciples-making command. But there are many other places in the New Testament where the priority of evangelism is clearly evident. Christ commanded it. We must do it.
  2. Because Christ is the only way of salvation. There is no way around it. Salvation is exclusive. There is only one way. Jesus could not have made it clearer in John 14:6: “Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” Jesus had an urgent message. He had an exclusive message. We must be conveyors of that narrowly-defined hope.
  3. Because Christ died for the world. There is a reason John 3:16 is the most familiar and most quoted verse in the history of humanity. Jesus died for the world. He is the only way, but He has provided a way for everyone. That is a message that is urgent and worth telling. Indeed it’s the greatest message ever.
  4. Because churches that are not intentional about evangelism typically are weak in evangelism. Many pastors and church leaders will affirm this article. They will give mental assent to the priority of evangelism. But they do not practice the priority of evangelism in their churches. What are you doing today to make certain evangelism is a priority in your church?
  5. Because churches tend to obsess inwardly when they fail to move outwardly. Where has a lot of your church’s energy been expended lately? Rancorous business meetings? Expressions of petty church preferences? Worship wars? Power struggles? Those are inward obsessions. Lead your church to an evangelistic priority and watch the focus shift for the better.
  6. Because churches become content and complacent with transfer growth. Some churches are growing. Others are adding members without significant numerical growth. But many in both categories are growing at the expense of other churches. Some may be reaching unchurched Christians. That’s good, but that’s not evangelism. We can fool ourselves into thinking we are evangelistic when we are simply recirculating the saints.
  7. Because evangelistic Christians actually grow stronger as better discipled Christians. Those who are evangelistic are obedient to Christ. Being obedient to Christ means that we are following His teachings and becoming a better fruit-bearing disciple.

Most churches are busy with activities, programs, and ministries. Few churches are truly sending out their members to evangelize those in their communities. The Great Commission has fast become the Great Omission.

Evangelism is dying.

Churches are dying.

People are going to hell without Christ.

It is perhaps the greatest tragedy today.

What are you doing to lead your church to become more evangelistic?

Posted on October 10, 2012

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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  • thanks you have really help me

  • Thom,
    Thanks for this information. I know i’m three years late getting into the conversation. I think this is the first time I’ve responded to a blog like this. I am going to share your seven reason with my Sunday School class this Sunday. I am the interim outreach leader in the class. The reason I am the interim is because I am the pastor, and I hope to hand this off to someone in 6-12 months.
    I did want to address one thing. I am adding an eighth reason, and i state it as follows….
    “Because the alternative is hell, judgment, an eternity separated from God, and a life void of purpose and real peace from God’s point of view.”
    The reason I am including this is because I did not remember hell or judgment being mentioned in the 7 reasons you included.
    Was there a reason you did not include this, or am I missing something?
    I am interested in your response, and I am truly thankful for all you do.

  • Brandon Bustamante says on

    Amen, evangelism is very vital to not only the church but also to the christian in general. Or at least it should be. Great article !

  • Godfrey Kagondu says on

    This is an amazing reminder…as I read it I I’ll be sharing it with my church this morning…may the Lord truly bless youyou

  • Sorry, forgot my main point-lol

    It’s a process-learning/leaning, going/proclaiming, doing/serving. You will not be a well-rounded disciple if you remove any side of the triangle. To just emphasis learning and serving or even serving and witnessing, you will come up short overall.

    We need to get ourselves back into the “go and tell” mindset that is so prevalent in the New Testament and the bedrock of the Christians call…

    Thanks again

  • Mr. Rainer, just wanted to say “thank you” for putting this into writing….and to also ask a question if I may. For the last 20 years my family has basically attended three primary church “types”. The first was an evangelism centered work which challenged us at every opportunity to aggressively (NOT rudely) pursue souls for the Lord. This was followed by over 18 years membership in a church which had “discipleship” (ala Bill Hull and others) as it’s core focus with very little (actually none really) emphasis on evangelism, claiming that the “Church” had lost her focus by focusing too much on “souls” and not enough on “growing disciples”. The last fellowship we attended was focused on being “missional” (ala Tim Keller and ‘others’) claiming that the “Church” had lost her focus on “mission” (being interpreted as nothing less than the old “social gospel” of the not too distant past).

    I gave you all of that to state that we (my wife and I) recently came to the realization that without a biblical emphasis on evangelism in our lives we have been “dying” spiritually, and quite frankly so have the churches we had been attending. It was then quite obvious that all of these “movements” AWAY from evangelism were no doubt one of our enemies (Satan) greatest triumphs. With all the “discipleship” navel-gazing and self-focus and all the solving of the world’s problems through “mission” we missed the point-men and women, boys and girls are going to hell at an alarming rate all around us while we read books and hand out bottled water (while never mentioning the sinners condition and Christ’s bloody cross of Calvary).

    I’m curious if I sound like I’m “out there” and off the mark or not?

    I truly believe that the only hope the American church has is in the straight up preaching of the Truth of the sinners appointment in hell and his/her only hope-Jesus Christ!

    We are praying for the Lord’s strength and leading to get us back to where we should be-before it’s too late.

    Thank you for your ministry

  • Jacob Ondrak says on

    I really appreciate your thoughts and biblical evidence to back it up. I am a 26 year old student at Liberty and God has given me the calling and gift to be an evangelist. I’m a huge fan of Moody, Gipsy Smith, F.B. Meyer, Whitefield, and all of those greats. Is there any books that would you recommend to help me be prepared for the field God has called me to be in? Thanks!

  • Apostle Peter says on

    the articles so far are soul inspiring but it’s rather unfortunate that today’s believers have been infected with passion for worldly treasures,worry,fear etc.neglecting the words of God.( mathew. 6:33).may God help us

  • Jeff Sherfey says on

    This is an excellent article! Thank you for taking the time to write it! I hope many believers and churches read this and put evangelism as a top priority. My hope is that so many more see the lost and look to reach out to them. Thank you so much!! Jeff

  • Thom Rainer says on

    Joe –
    Thanks for your kind words.

  • Thom Rainer says on

    Trish –
    I’m curious which of the seven are Arminian or pragmatic. Great Commission? Exclusivity of salvation through Christ? Atonement? Evangelistic mandate? Others?