Last Sunday as the Connection Group (Sunday School class) that I attend was sharing prayer requests, a lady named Elaine shared this story. She was hopeful that the seat next to her on the airplane would be vacant. Just as they were closing the doors one last passenger boarded, and sat in that seat. Elaine took the opportunity to connect with this young man, struck up a conversation with him, shared the Gospel, and led him to faith in Christ on the plane. Elaine asked our group to prayer for him to find a church home this week.
Elaine is not a pastor or a minister. She is a middle-aged lady that loves Jesus and was spiritually aware enough to be led by the Spirit to share the Gospel with a total stranger with whom she had almost nothing in common. I am really glad that she did not read Thom Rainer’s blog article last week about What Non-Christians Really Think About Us. She might have been too discouraged to be so forthright in sharing Christ with a total stranger.
When you dream about the church evangelizing and making disciples, what goes through your mind? It is probably a variety of mental pictures of people coming to Christ; such as church members sharing Christ with a neighbor, a family member living out the Gospel with a rebellious child, or maybe people moving forward at the end of a worship service to respond to call of Christ.
I have some assumptions about evangelism I want to share. These assumptions are anecdotal for the most part, and based on my personal experience so feel free to disagree or share more. But here are some things I have discovered from my own experience about evangelism and the church.
- Churches that are the most effective in evangelizing their community have an intentional plan.
- Effective evangelistic churches train their members to be evangelistic.
- Lay evangelism is expected in evangelistic churches.
- Pastors of these churches are intentionally evangelistic themselves.
- There is a direct link between evangelism in the pulpit and the EQ (evangelism quotient) of the church members.
- There is also a link regarding the role of Sunday School and small groups in the church. If Sunday School is considered a front-door evangelism opportunity, evangelism increases. If it is considered an assimilation strategy, evangelism decreases.
- Sunday Schools and small groups that grasp the concept of connecting lost friends and neighbors to Christ through a biblical theology of community have more lost people participating in their groups.
- The concept of the “Ask”. Evangelistic people and evangelistic groups ask people if they would like to know more about the Gospel or if they are ready to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Non-evangelistic groups and people never ask.
- Evangelism takes 10 times as much effort and energy as the other functions of the church (discipleship, fellowship, ministry, and worship).
- Evangelism does not have to happen at once. Sometimes it does, but most often it is a cultivation process.
- An evangelistic small group understands that their group is a laboratory of sorts for a lost person to investigate Christianity. As such, it is a safe place for spiritual exploration that encourages challenging questions from the lost. An unused laboratory is not much use.
What are some of your experiences with evangelism? Are they anything like mine?