“Why did you go into vocational ministry?” A conversation was taking place between two friends, and this question was asked. Maybe you’re a ministry leader and you’ve been asked the same thing. Without skipping a beat, the friend responded, “There’s nothing better than seeing lost people saved and saved people living out their purpose of making Jesus known. Honestly, I can’t see myself doing anything else other than serving for the purpose of leading people to Jesus and equipping them to go out and do the same.”
Evangelism—it’s the “why” behind the purpose of the church and the “why” behind the existence of the local church. Knowing this to be the case, there’s a different question often asked by many ministry leaders today: “How do I create a culture of evangelism in my church?” Culture is very different from a campaign. A campaign starts and ends, but culture is a way of life. Campaigns are promoted around a church, but culture reveals who we are as the church.
Creating a culture of evangelism in the church is a process that takes time, intentionality, and constant attention. It’s also a process that will begin with you as the leader. We see this in churches across the globe. What matters most to pastors and ministry leaders will matter most to those they lead. So, where can you begin to create a culture of evangelism in your church?
1. Examine your life
As a pastor or ministry leader, examine your own soul. How are you doing spiritually? Are you thriving or just surviving? The truth is that we cannot give others what we ourselves do not have. It is when we are personally being filled by Jesus that we have something to pour into others.
Next, examine your life and ministry. Do you have a burden for those who are spiritually lost and a passion to share the hope of the gospel with them? When was the last time you led someone to faith in Jesus? Or when was the last time you tried? If there’s going to be a culture of evangelism in the church, ministry leaders must model what it looks like to live evangelistically.
I often look back at my first few years of ministry, and I have one regret. While we hosted evangelistic events at the church and challenged students to bring friends, knowing they would hear the gospel, I didn’t equip many of those I led to go and share the gospel themselves. I specifically remember the day the Holy Spirit convicted me as I realized the reason I wasn’t equipping others to share the gospel outside the walls of the church was because I wasn’t doing so myself. We talked about the gospel with people inside the church week after week, but we lived near great friends who didn’t know Jesus and I never tried to tell them about Him. That was a turning point in my life—realizing we cannot lead what we do not live.
As ministry leaders, we have to continuously examine our own souls and lives of personal evangelism. If our souls aren’t healthy, our ministries will not be healthy.
2. Embrace a plan
Most people do not naturally drift toward evangelism. It’s much harder to go out and start a conversation with someone about Jesus than it is to lead a Bible study or ministry. Both are important, but evangelism takes intentionality and embracing a plan.
Creating a culture of evangelism will happen as you put a plan in place to model evangelism, equip your church members in evangelism, and then mobilize them to actually engage in evangelism. Every church’s plan will be unique to them, but there are a few elements that every plan should include.
In his book Master Plan of Evangelism, Robert Coleman says, “One living sermon is worth a hundred explanations.” Whether it’s during a Sunday morning service, a Wednesday evening student gathering, or another ministry meeting, share stories and show people what it looks like engage in gospel conversations. It’s these examples that inspire others and give them a model to follow as they reach out to those who do not know Jesus.
Choosing an evangelism tool
Whether it’s multiple tools or just one, choose a way to train those you lead to share the gospel. Many Christians know they are called to share the gospel but feel unequipped to do so. An evangelism tool like the 3 Circles can easily be used to train others in how to share the gospel and give them the confidence to begin conversations.
Determining specific times and places to equip in evangelism
For most of us, if it’s not on the calendar, it’s probably not going to happen. Plan days and places when you will set aside time to train those you lead in evangelism. Maybe it’s a Sunday, after-church training or a Wednesday evening training. Maybe it’s during your Sunday morning sermon as you share the gospel each week and allow your people an opportunity to respond. The more we hear something, the easier it is to remember it. Sharing the gospel each week simultaneously teaches those listening how to share the gospel.
Plans give us a course of direction and help us to maintain intentionality along the way. So, what’s your plan to create a culture of evangelism?
3. Engage others in evangelism
Fear, doubt, uncertainty: these are just a few tactics Satan uses to keep followers of Jesus from turning everyday conversations into gospel conversations. Creating a culture of evangelism requires equipping people to step out in faith to engage in evangelism! Prepare them. Start by reminding them of what success is. Success is not seeing someone saved, but success is simply sharing the gospel. Next, spend time praying for those who don’t know Jesus and for an opportunity to share with them. (Often times, we think prayer is the least we can do, but in reality, it’s the most we can do.) Then, as you prepare those you lead to have gospel conversations, give them a few conversation starters. The hardest part of starting a gospel conversation is figuring out how to get into the conversation. Here are a few examples:
Do you have any spiritual beliefs?
Has anyone ever told you about Jesus?
Can I share my story with you?
I’ll never forget the day someone at our church said, “I shared the gospel for the first time in my life this week, and it was awesome!” This woman was able to ask a coworker who was struggling if she could share what Jesus had done in her own life in a similar situation. This led to an entire conversation about the gospel and the hope she has in Jesus. This is incredible!
The last—but not least—part of the process in creating a culture of evangelism is to encourage. People will replicate what you as the pastor or ministry leader celebrate. You have an opportunity to celebrate when people have gospel conversations, celebrate by making baptisms a big deal, and celebrate life change. These moments within the church inspire and encourage others to join the work Jesus is doing to change lives and eternities.
Creating a culture of evangelism is an ongoing process. Once you’ve examined your own life, embraced a plan, equipped others to engage in evangelism, and encouraged those you lead by celebrating wins, start the process all over again and make necessary adjustments along the way. When the journey gets tiring, remember why you do what you do in the first place: to see lost people saved and saved people living out their purpose of making Jesus known.
Check out the new NAMB Evangelism Kit for more resources to help your church create a culture of evangelism.
Published August 23, 2023