What goes through the average church members mind when they hear a church leader speak about evangelism? Specifically, how do most church members appear to respond when they are invited to participate in evangelistic outreach efforts? Although the average church member knows that evangelism is a vital part of their faith, most members are either disengaged or barely engaged in evangelism (LifeWay Research).
The pic below is an illustration of evangelistic involvement in the church. The vast majority of church members are unengaged (and I might add, unresponsive) in actually sharing their faith.
When the average (unengaged) church members hears about a specific evangelistic activity, they assume that this requires an engagement level that is much deeper than where they currently are evangelistically and they automatically opt out. Many members at the Unengaged Level assume that they are either too ill-equipped, too uncomfortable, or lack the commitment necessary to be evangelistically engaged. The leap from Unengaged to Evangelistic Lifestyle is just too much for them to consider. Many church members perceive evangelism as being all-in (preaching at busy intersection using a bullhorn) or all-out (we pay the pastor to evangelize).
Churches should find ways to move people into a more engaged evangelistic lifestyle by offering more incremental steps. For instance: challenging church members to pray for three lost friends is a step into becoming Spiritually Aware of evangelistic opportunities. This is much better for the church (and their lost friends) than being Unengaged. A church member may be timid about actually sharing a Gospel presentation with a lost friend, but they can invite their friend to attend their small group or a worship service where they can be exposed to the Gospel. These are steps in the right direction and should be encouraged and rewarded.
Next year (2016) as part of its ReConnect Sunday School Initiative, the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma is releasing a nine-week evangelism campaign aimed at helping average church members move into new levels of evangelistic engagement.
What are your thoughts about leading church members into deeper levels of evangelistic engagement. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.