Lay-Evangelism Leadership 2nd Essential for a TRULY Evangelistic Church
Lay leadership buy-in is important – no, it’s essential. This is the pastor’s first and possibly most challenging task.
Peer leadership, or should I call it pew leadership, adds credibility to pastoral leadership in essential Christian tasks such as personal evangelism.
It is easy for people in the pew to think evangelism is solely the pastor’s job. While some church members may enjoy hearing the pastor share his personal experiences in building redemptive relationships and pointing people to Jesus, they may assume it is his theological training and Bible knowledge that makes it possible for him to evangelize effectively—“He’s a professional.”
What they don’t realize is that, in some ways, the non-theologically trained folks in the congregation have more potential than their pastor to be fruitful personal witnesses for Jesus.
A lot of unbelievers keep pastors at an arms-distance, because of what the word “pastor” connotes to them. While, on the other hand, most regular church members already have relationships with unbelievers—neighbors, co-workers, friends, and relatives—who already know and trust them.
If one or more ordinary members of the congregation begins to imitate the pastor’s evangelistic lifestyle, the fever for seeing people’s lives changed by the gospel will become increasingly contagious. With a little help from the pew, the “evangelism is (only) the pastor’s job” myth can be cracked and maybe shattered.
Five Steps in Building and Mobilizing a Congregational Leadership Core Group
Step One – Pray and Identify Members of a "Good Shepherd" Core Group.
There are a couple of different ways you, as a pastor, could put together a lay-evangelism leadership core group.
You could simply announce that you would like to meet with anyone who is seriously interested in becoming personally involved in reaching unsaved people with the gospel. But Jesus used a different, more selective, approach which worked great for Him.
Following the Jesus-model, you would look for at least one member of the congregation who has the potential to be an evangelism champion with you. You may discover him or her or them quickly, or it may take more time than you wish and hope it would. But, if you model the lost sheep-seeking “Good Shepherd” example that Jesus talked about, evangelism champions will eventually emerge.
A pastor who knows the people in his congregation will probably already know who some of these potential evangelism champions are. For example, they may be the members of the church who:
- Often ask prayer for lost friends or loved ones.
- Share occasional stories of unbelievers to whom they are witnessing.
- Live consistent and boldly-Christian lives amidst a lot of unbelievers, on the job or elsewhere.
- Invite unsaved friends or family members to church, perhaps for special events, such as Christmas and Easter services.
- Quickly respond when you mention the possibility of providing evangelism training.
Personally chat with these folks and gauge their interest in meeting with you to discuss how “we” can help “our” church be more broadly active in reaching “our” communities with God’s wonderful message of hope.
Step Two – Meet with the Core Group to Introduce the General Concepts, the Challenge, and Prayer.
Meet with the one or few (or many) people who express an interest in your idea of developing an informal group to work with you in becoming a church that pursues lost sheep with a passion. Lay out the challenge in a straight-forward way, so as to see who rises to the challenge. The size of the team is much less important than the degree of their commitment.
Meet a few times to discuss ideas and potential obstacles, but especially focus on prayer—prayer for the success of the endeavor and prayer for specific unbelievers. After a few meetings you will be able to determine who is seriously interested. If someone in this group is a natural leader, that’s great! And if there are people who have abilities to teach and train others, they can be very helpful in some of the processes to follow.
Step Three – Make Plans for Training the Evangelism Core Group.
One of the all-time classic books on this topic is Robert Coleman’s The Master Plan of Evangelism. Coleman expounded on the method Jesus used to achieve what our churches need to do. It’s a simple method: find a few committed followers of Jesus and train them to reach and train others, who will reach and train others (ad infinitum). The concept is so Biblically apparent and simple, why haven’t more pastors implemented this method of Jesus?
Once your committed core group has coalesced, the next step is training. Just as Jesus spent time training the twelve, I recommend that you train your lay-evangelism leadership core group (or whatever you choose to call the group) first, before taking the broader step of offering training to the entire congregation
One proven-to-be-effective way to equip your “twelve” (or “one” or “two” or more) is to take them to a Good Soil Evangelism and Discipleship Seminar. Not only will they be personally trained to share God’s story of hope “in a world of competing faiths and cultures,” but on the third day of the seminar week they will be trained and certified to team-teach the Basic Good Soil Seminar with you, back in your church.
As a gesture of our desire to help you implement the “Master’s plan of evangelism” in your church, we extend this special offer to you: If you are a pastor and can bring at least two other church members from your congregation with you, we invite YOU and the OTHER MEMBERS (regardless of how many that might be) to attend FREE, if you attend together. Register yourself using the promotional code “Pastor” and have the others register separately using this same code. (This offer may not be extended forever.)
Step Four – Introduce the Core Group to the Twelve Essentials.
Lead your evangelism core group through a reading and discussion of the 13 articles in this “Twelve Essentials of a TRULY Evangelistic Church.” Every local church is different, with different challenges in the process of evangelistic mobilization. As you lead the group through each “essential,” talk about implementation tactics for your church:
- What are the challenges you face?
- What are some possible ways to counter these challenges?
- What are some additional ideas related to each “essential” that are not mentioned in the article?
- What are the practical steps to follow in getting started?
You will want to anticipate some “it won’t work here” resistance, but don’t let that discourage or stop you.
Step Five – Engage the Core Group in Leadership Roles.
Engage your evangelism leadership core group in helping you lead the church through Essentials #3-12. As you read the remaining articles in this series, be thinking about how you can share the load of these responsibilities with your core group. The more they are engaged, the stronger their commitment will be.
FREE postage-paid copy of Gaining Ground with Good Soil for pastors in the United States. Non-USA pastors can also receive a FREE copy, but payment of shipping costs is required.
Here’s a look back and a look forward to the entire set of articles in this “Twelve Essentials to a TRULY Evangelistic Church” series:
- Twelve Essentials: Overview
- The Pastor
- Lay Leadership
- The Mission
- Local Focus
- Equipped Congregation
- Basic Discipleship
- Peer Accountability
- Shared Experiences
- Evangelistic Praying
- Simplified Programming
- Congregational Warmth
- Persistent Pursuit