So how do we start truly making evangelism a priority church-wide?
Prayer is the supernatural precursor to proclamation. In Acts 4:31 Luke writes, “After they prayed the place where they were meeting was shaken and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and went out and spoke the word of God boldly.” If we want to get our churches to evangelize then we must pray for them to start evangelizing. We must pray that God would make it a priority in our own lives as the same time.
Samuel Chadwick once said that Satan laughs at our priorities and mocks at our plans but he trembles when we pray. We must pray for each other when it comes to the “e” word otherwise it will never happen in a way that is going to produce lasting change in the lifeblood of our congregation.
If you aren’t living THE Cause of evangelism then how can you ask our church to live it out? We must set the pace with our lives and our lips and then call those around us (including our spiritual leaders) to join us. Jesus blasted his followers with a don’t-be-a-hypocrite reminder in Luke 6:42 when he said, “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Before we try to pick the speck of evangelistic failure out of our church’s eye let’s take the plank out of our own! Then let us humbly challenge our church to do the same!
Whether it be through stories of changed lives, unveiling the eternal realities of what is at stake (heaven, hell, Judgment Day, etc) or focusing on passages of Scripture that command or compel us to share the gospel, we must inspire those in our congregations, small group, Sunday school classes and youth group to relationally and relentlessly share the gospel in their spheres of influence.
Richard Baxter, great Protestant preacher of five centuries ago, once said, “Satan will seek to do the most harm to those who seek to do his kingdom the most damage.” One of the ways the Evil One will seek to do damage to those who are seeking to do his kingdom evangelistic harm will be to discourage them. He will whisper lies in their ears that they can’t make a real impact. He will peddle his lies in their hearts that evangelism doesn’t work in a postmodern culture.
How do we counteract his lies? Through prayer and inspiration! We tell stories of changed lives. We drench the congregation with inspiration by baptizing the newly converted as a visual and visceral testimony of God’s saving power. We create a round-the-campfire church culture where we consistently swap stories of people we are seeking to reach with the good news of the gospel. That same story-based inspiration that encouraged the 1st Century believers throughout the book of Acts can inspire believers in the 21st Century as well!
As you pray, live evangelistically and inspire those around you they must be equipped to actually do it. According to Ephesians 4:11-12 the purpose of the evangelists in a congregation is not to do all of the evangelism but to “equip God’s people for works of service….”
How do you make sure that boots are on the battlefield and the bayonet hits the bone (so to speak) when it comes to evangelism? Maybe it’s through accountability on a small group level. Or maybe you get an accountability partner to keep encouraging you when it comes to sharing your faith. Whatever you choose to do to make sure you and your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ are deployed for evangelism you must do something. As James 1 so bluntly reminds us we are called to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. Because if we hear about God’s command to “make disciples” but don’t do it we are just fooling ourselves.
How do we help our churches to accomplish their mission statements fully and truthfully? We pray, live, inspire, equip and deploy! And we do it with gentleness and respect