Most churches that are committed to being or becoming an evangelistic church, who want to reach the lost with the gospel, normally start to think of training in personal evangelism or even various strategies for attracting the lost to church or getting the gospel to the lost. But before those things are pursued there are some very obvious, “simple” things that a church can and should do first as it seeks to become more outward faced and effective in evangelism. These things do not require lots of money or great or extraordinary levels of commitment. All these things take is a fundamental commitment to be a church that strives to “seek and save that which is lost”. Some of these are:
- Mobilize to pray. Pray for the vitality of the church, for the community itself, for a specific list of lost people supplied by the members (family, co-workers, neighbors, etc.). This prayer can take place in small groups, in a monthly or weekly prayer gathering with for this particular purpose, in a Sunday School class, and by individuals.
- Build into the pastor’s job description and schedule 5-10 hours a week to spend with non-Christians and visitors to the church including networking in the community.
- Become visitor friendly. Things such as adequate signage, a warm and helpful greeting, a clean and orderly nursery, and a simple but attractive facility will go along way in opening doors for the gospel. Without them many visitors simple don’t return and the opportunities are lost.
- Preach the gospel with clarity, calling people to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Along with that, encourage church members to invite their unchurched friends and associates to hear the gospel proclaimed.
- Serve your community. Identify and find ways for your congregation to be active in the community addressing real and tangible needs. People are often much more receptive to the gospel once they see your concern, your care for them as individuals and as a community. Encourage your congregation to be active members of the community, serving on boards, participating in the schools, taking advantage of park district activities, etc.
Once these pre-requisites are taking place in the life of the church any training that the church members receive will be much more enthusiastically embraced and will be all the more effective since many doors of opportunity will normally be generated and the congregation will have much more of an outreach mindset.
Some resources that can be considered for training/equipping the congregation include:
- “Building Bridges, Tearing Down Walls” by Jerram Barrs (available through Covenant Seminary).
- “3-D Evangelism” by Randy Pope (available through Perimeter Church, Atlanta).
- “Christianity Explored” by Rico Tice.
- “Evangelism Explosion” (still an excellent tool).
- “Breakout Churches” and “The Unchurched Next Door” by Thom Rainer (+ “Surprising Insights From the Unchurched”).