Contrary to popular belief, evangelism doesn’t “just happen” in church life. It requires intentionality, effort, and practice.
Many of us have heard the contemporary mindset that says, “Get the church or ministry healthy and evangelism will follow.” In other words, instead of trying to motivate Christians to share the good news, let’s focus instead on sound doctrine, good structures, right staffing, solid teaching, etc. “If we do these things,” as the thinking goes, “then our people will reach out and we will experience evangelistic growth as a church or evangelistic fruit as a ministry.”
This mindset is only partially true. Yes, if a church or ministry really is healthy, then evangelism will be happening. However, without an emphasis on intentional evangelism, most of us will focus on growing deeper in Biblical knowledge and Christian community instead of becoming more faithful in evangelistic outreach.
Notice that Jesus never taught us to “get healthy” and the Great Commission would just occur. Instead, Jesus intentionally included the Great Commission, or a form of it, repeatedly in the Gospels. Jesus made it plain that His followers were to intentionally engage in the mission of delivering the Gospel to every person. In fact, robust, compassionate, intentional evangelism is a sign of Christian health.
Luke picked up where Jesus left off and included stories of intentional evangelism throughout the book of Acts. Paul the Apostle followed up with numerous teachings on evangelistic intentionality capping it off with 2 Timothy 4:5 which includes the imperative, “Do the work of an evangelist.”
Evangelism is work. It is a work that must be done with intentionality. Therefore, those of us in Christian ministry leadership positions must emphasize intentional evangelism if we hope to help those we lead become evangelistic in their practice.
How can pastors and ministry leaders influence others toward intentional evangelism? Here are seven ways:
1. Pray for lost people by name. Start with the homes closest to your own and pray for those who live there to hear the Gospel and be saved.
2. Provide evangelistic training for Christians. Whether you utilize Three Circles, Share Jesus Without Fear, Two Ways to Live, or something else those who are trained are more likely to share the good news.
3. Practice intentional evangelism as a leader. Preach evangelistically, extend a clear Gospel invitation, share the Gospel throughout the week, and include personal evangelism stories in your preaching.
4. Prioritize evangelistic events on the calendar. Plan events that are aimed at sharing the Gospel in a clear and understandable way with people who are far from God.
5. Promote evangelistic leaders in the church. Put people in positions of leadership in the church or ministry—both staff and volunteer—who demonstrate an evangelistic commitment and lifestyle.
6. Prepare daily for evangelistic opportunities. Ask the Lord each day to open your eyes to the opportunities that exist around you and for boldness to share Jesus with those you meet.
7. Praise God for evangelistic fruit. Be the number one cheerleader in the church or ministry for those who have received Christ or those in your ministry that have been used of the Lord to lead others to Christ.
Evangelistic leaders are the ones who prioritize reaching people with the Gospel and make a personal commitment to that work. Every Christian leader can become an evangelistic leader with prayer, commitment, and effort. It all starts with recognizing that evangelism requires intentionality, it doesn’t “just happen.”