Evangelism has been one of the specific focuses of my ministry for more than three decades, so I’ve been aware of the sad fact that most churches don’t do anything to equip their members to be able to effectively share the Gospel with non-Christians.
A couple years ago I spent a year as consultant for John Hendee in his position as Chair of world evangelism for Hope International University in Fullerton, California. The fact that most churches do nothing — n o t h i n g! — to equip members in personal evangelism was a central focus for John and the first question he raised with church leaders as he engaged with them across the country and around the world.
If the Great Commission of the church is to go make disciples (Mt. 28:18-20), and every Christian is an ambassador for Christ (2 Cor. 5:18-20), and a primary responsibility of leaders is to equip the saints to do the work God has for us (Eph. 4:11-12), you would think church leaders would make training Christians to effectively share the Gospel a top priority. Many not only make it a lesser priority, but don’t provide any such training at all!
Here are some reasons (certainly not an exhaustive list):
1. The pastor doesn’t have a personal interest in evangelism. For some of you, that may be a shocking statement, but I’ve sat with many ministers who have stated clearly that they personally had little interest in evangelism. That doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t care about people coming into a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ, they just don’t see themselves as being the ambassador to vigorously seek the lost specifically to share the Gospel.
2. Pastors/church leaders are untrained themselves. Most ministers go to some type of Bible college to prepare for ministry, and some continue their education in seminary. But that doesn’t mean they were ever personally discipled prior to such formal education, or during it! Many church leaders have never had a mature Christian train them how to effectively share the Gospel with someone one-on-one, and have had to stumble their way through the times when their pastoral vocation have called on them to do so.
3. Leadership has other priorities for the church. It’s not uncommon to hear that one of the key interests of the church is reaching the lost with the Good News of Christ, but for many, in reality it is not a leading interest. For example, many leaders make an excuse that they first need to disciple their current members … even though they don’t include in that discipleship any training for how to share the Gospel! In fact, years later the members of that congregation are often just as biblically illiterate — and undiscipled — than when the excuse began.
4. Few in the congregation are interested. Whether or not a pastor is interested in evangelism is sometimes muted by the fact that few members of the congregation are. Church leaders can get discouraged with this lack of interest and use it as an excuse not to equip members to share the Gospel. A better answer? Go with the go-ers! Train any who are interested, and run with them; in the meantime, keep teaching over and over again the mission of the church and our appointment as Christ’s ambassadors.
5. Blindly committed to the attractional model. For a few decades now, people in the church have been taught the attractional model of trying to “grow the church” (attendance) by inviting spiritually dead people to attend a religious service in a building somewhere. The data shows that while you can sometimes increase attendance, it usually doesn’t result in any significant outcomes of making new disciples. But that’s all the church leaders have seen, and what they’ve been modeled and taught for years. Leaders can be just as difficult about change as their most entrenched members.
You cannot reach the lost of this world by inviting them to church. That’s why Christ commissioned His church to GO and make disciples (Mt. 28:18-20); that’s why God has appointed us as ambassadors for Christ, so that He could make His appeal through us (2 Cor. 5:18-20)! Yet the church is doing little to nothing to equip the saints to make disciples and be ambassadors.
If you’re a disciple of Jesus who would like to be trained in a highly effective method for sharing the Gospel with non-Christians, click here to learn more about being trained to use an evangelistic tool called “It’s All About Relationship.” Many thousands around the world have come to know Christ by someone using this evangelistic tool, with a simple method, to share the Gospel with them.
If we’re serious about reaching the lost for Christ, we must be serious about equipping the saints to be able to effectively share the Gospel with non-Christians.
This article originally appeared here.