PASTOR AS EVANGELIST: Building Evangelistic Fervor in a Congregation
June 7th, 2017 / By: Nathan Lino / comments
“Do the work of an evangelist.” (2 Timothy 4:5)
The climax of Paul’s second pastor manual to Timothy is introduced by these sobering words in 2 Timothy 4:1: “I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge the living and the dead, and because of his appearing and his kingdom …” As the solemn charge unfolds in the chapter, we discover a central aspect of leading faithfully as a pastor is “doing the work of an evangelist.”
Building evangelistic fervor in a congregation is one of the most difficult challenges on this side of heaven. I don’t know of a single pastor who feels his church’s evangelistic efforts are enough. I know of many pastors, including myself, who wish their churches did more to share the gospel with unbelievers.
Be encouraged my fellow pastors, the struggle is real, but it is not unique to you. Every pastor struggles to mobilize his congregation in evangelism. I do.
Move forward by working with the 5 to 20 percent of your congregation who are ready to join you in evangelizing the lost. Allow me to share some lessons learned along the way for moving forward as a leader in evangelism.
First, know who you yourself are as an evangelist and play to your strengths. I am personally not an effective soul winner. I’m only a “one to two converts per year” guy when it comes to one-on-one evangelism. I’m not smooth with people, I’m not very relational, and I don’t have a good poker face. But while I’m not personally effective in terms of converts, I am personally motivated. I am not scared to bring up the gospel with strangers; I’m comfortable leading with a direct, diagnostic question. I’m also not afraid to hand out gospel tracts to strangers. So I’m much more of a seed sower than I am a conversions guy, and thus I focus on seed sowing and take delight in the rare occasions I get to lead someone to faith in Christ. Another thing I’ve learned about myself is I’m fairly effective at training people in personal evangelism. The Lord has taught me how to train and loose personal soul winners who are far more effective with actual conversions than I am. So I play to my strengths—I personally try to sow lots of seed as I go around my town, and then I focus on training and mobilizing my members for one-on-one soul winning.
Second, be the face of evangelism in your church. Like it or not, some ministries of the church will not thrive if the senior pastor is not the lead voice championing the effort. Evangelism is one of them. You have a variety of tools at your disposal such as entire sermons, sermon illustrations, two-to-three-minute exhortation segments in a worship service, corporate prayer times, blog posts, social media, etc. Talk about it often with your people—celebrate salvations, baptisms, tracts and Bibles distributed, doors knocked on, etc.
Third, train your people in personal soul winning. It is one thing to know information; it is another thing to know how to communicate that information clearly and concisely to someone who has never heard it before. After fear, the most common reason Christians do not share their faith is they feel ill-equipped to do so. Your people won’t go to war empty-handed. There are some great tools out there such as the 3 Circles: Life Conversation Guide and Can We Talk? Our church offers a personal evangelism training workshop four times per year.
Finally, try to provide your members with multifaceted opportunities to share the gospel. For example, our church has members who will share the gospel house-to-house, others who will gladly do it through an open door such as a food pantry, and still others who will do it through “adopting” an international college student at a nearby university and building a relationship with that person. The more evangelism avenues you offer your members, the more members you’ll find plugging in. Some strategies only have a two-to-three-year shelf life, so when you find one dying out, cancel it if you can and add new ones.
While you may be discouraged by a lack of evangelistic zeal in your congregation, pray for God to change you and your people as you implement the above strategies. I’m convinced that the Lord will answer that prayer and use your church to reach a lost world in need of Christ.