Twelve Essentials for a TRULY Evangelistic Church Series Overview
Evangelical Church vs. Evangelistic Church
What’s the Difference?
Both words, evangelical and evangelistic, are rooted in the Greek word εὐαγγέλιον (euangelion), which means “good news” or “gospel.” Perhaps this is a bit simplistic, but it is essentially correct:
- An evangelical church is a church that believes the basic truths of the Biblical gospel.
- An evangelistic church is a congregation that not only believes the gospel, but also strives hard to obey our Lord’s command to proclaim it broadly and share it person-to-person with unbelievers.
Is your church only evangelical, or is it TRULY evangelistic?
And what does a truly evangelistic church look like, from the inside out?
Some pastors and church members might say – “Oh yes, our church is ‘evangelistic.’ It even says so on our church sign.” “We have a door-to-door visitation program.” “Our pastor preaches evangelistic sermons and gives a public invitation in each service.” “And, we have a gospel tract rack by each exit door.”
While those things may be good, the foolproof marks of a truly evangelistic church are not simply door-to-door visitation programs or evangelistic preaching and public invitations or gospel tract racks.
The TRUE heart and soul of an evangelistic church is a congregation that is regularly engaged in developing caring “redemptive relationships” that may lead toward conversion discussions and personal gospel presentations—presentations that help unbelievers clearly understand the gospel and sincerely embrace Jesus as Savior.
That may seem impossible to many pastors, but it IS what our Lord desires for local churches. And I believe it is attainable, if the church’s leadership will strive to incorporate these twelve essentials into the core life of the church:
- The pastor MUST model, lead, and drive the ministry of evangelism. It is too important to ignore or to delegate to an associate. Period. Exclamation point!
- Lay leadership buy-in is important – no, it’s essential. This is the pastor’s first and possibly most challenging task.
- The church’s mission must TRULY be the Great Commission. Just using the “Great Commission” as a pious platitude is not enough.
- A local church cannot jump over the “Jerusalem” of Acts 1:8 and salve its congregational conscience by supporting foreign missions. A church’s first and foremost responsibility is to “bloom where it was planted.”
- Church members must be equipped with worldview-relevant training and resources to become engaged in redemptive relationships that effectively lead to gospel-sharing opportunities.
- In conjunction with evangelism training and resourcing, church members must be equipped for personal discipleship, especially leading new believers in the “first steps” of their new-found Christian lives. The goal is not to just to “make disciples,” but to “make disciples who make disciples, ad infinitum.”
- A congregational climate of mutual accountability for every-member evangelism must be created. This accountability climate, like leaven, will grow and spread over time if nurtured by the pastor and other leaders.
- A culture of evangelistic story-sharing must be developed to become so natural that stories flow spontaneously person to person and publicly when called for. The pastor must model this from the pulpit and create congregational sharing opportunities regularly.
- The church needs to focus at least 50% of congregational prayer time on evangelistic contacts. The congregation will need to be led to pray regularly for what is more important than Aunt Sally’s broken toe—for what is eternally important: the souls of lost men, women, and children.
- Church programming must be simplified by trimming and minimizing official church activities that do not genuinely contribute to “making disciples and teaching them to observe all things” that our Lord commanded. Caution: Handle with care. This will be a challenge if your church is steeped in history and tradition.
- It is essential for the church to up the heat on congregational warmth—especially its friendliness and acceptance of visitors. This will begin to happen automatically the more your congregation becomes involved in personal redemptive relationships, but there are changes that can be made to initiate and accelerate the process.
- The pastor and other church leaders must be determined to stick with these efforts for the long haul. It may take years for some churches to experience significant change. Do not become discouraged and say, “It doesn’t work in my church.” It’s Biblical, it can work anywhere if the first essential (see above) is in place.
Please do not misunderstand me. To be a TRULY evangelistic church does not mean to be a TOTALLY evangelistic church. Evangelism is not the only activity a “New Testament” local church should be engaged in. But it is the most neglected, particularly in this North American generation.
Twelve Essentials to a TRULY Evangelistic Church - Series of Articles
This article is an introduction to a series of 12 articles, one for each of the 12 essentials for a TRULY evangelistic local church. Each of the 12 will be fleshed-out with ideas for implementing each “essential” in the life of your congregation.
Here’s 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
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