“You shall not bear false witness.” — The 9th Commandment
I’ve always been interested in church mission statements. They can range from typical (“to know him and make him known”) to transformational (“We strive to proclaim the Good News of Christ through worship, ministry and outreach missions.”) As I think about it, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a church’s mission statement that doesn’t make evangelism a central priority in one way or another.
But when it comes to evangelism, a mission statement can turn from big black letters on a church marquee to a little, white lie that the church is telling the community. Strike that … it’s a big lie. If a church claims to be making evangelism a central priority and the people in that church are not actively sharing their faith, then the mission statement of that church is not just a joke, it’s a lie.
I know. I know. These are bold words. But they are not meant to make you angry but to get you thinking. Think about it. If we are proclaiming to the members of our congregation and community that evangelism is a primary purpose via our church’s mission statement, and we are not making it a central priority of our church’s programs and budgets, then that mission statement is a lie.
If evangelism is a central priority in a church, then it would seem to me that evangelism training should be central, as well. The people in that congregation should be consistently challenged and equipped to proclaim the good news of Jesus. If it were a priority, then wouldn’t ministry leaders be lovingly and consistently held accountable to share their faith just like they are held accountable for personal holiness or to show up for meetings they are leading?
In a church truly aligned with their evangelistic mission statement, wouldn’t that priority into the Sunday morning program, just like worship, fellowship, teaching, communion and offering does? The average church would never consider missing taking the offering as part of their Sunday morning services, but how many miss giving the gospel and/or challenging their people to do the same during the week?
To gauge whether or not your church is lying about its priority of evangelism when it comes to their mission statement, here are some questions to ask:
1. Have you been equipped by your church to effectively share your faith, and is someone in your church holding you accountable to do it? As a result, how often are you evangelizing in your own neighborhood, workplace, school and circle of friends?
2. How often is your pastor and church leadership personally sharing their faith with others (not counting the times they share the gospel from the pulpit or in a Sunday school class) and sharing the stories with the church congregation to inspire them to faithfully share the gospel as well?
3. How many resources (time, talent and treasure) are being deployed by your church to mobilize God’s people for personal evangelism?
4. Have sporadic outreach meetings (Easter, Christmas, etc.) replaced the push for relational evangelism in your church?
5. How much of your church’s numeric growth is due to newly converted people versus just Christian people trying to find a new church?
6. How much effort is being put into training teenagers and children to share their faith since they are most open to the gospel demographically?
7. On a scale from 1 to 10, how much is evangelism a true priority as opposed to a stated priority in your church, in your opinion?
These tough questions deserve honest answers.