Pastors' Forum


Equipping and Mobilizing for Evangelism

It seems that the members of my church are way more inward-focused than outward-focused. Everyone enjoys good teaching and fellowship, but it’s rare that my members invite the unsaved to church or express any kind of deep concern for the lost. To be honest, I’m more teaching-oriented than evangelistic myself. What can I do to improve myself in these areas, and what can I do to help mobilize and equip my church members to become more evangelistically-minded? Are there any books, videos, or other resources that we can use for study guides? Help!


Pastor Jim Graff – Victoria, TX
It is easy for a church to become more inward-focused than outreached-focused in a close knit church family. A close knit church family has very little strife and division, and therefore it is pleasant to be a part of. When unbelievers come to our churches, they bring their issues with them. Churches who reach and disciple them well need to first develop a heart for them, and then develop a structure too that motivates and equips them for maturity. Jesus’ teaching in Luke 14 empowers us to do that very well. He tells us first to make sure our services bring rich understanding, healing, strength and enlightenment to the poor, crippled, lame and blind in our community. Then he says we need to train our people to bring others to church instead of being content to ignore them or even to invite them.

Dr. Dave Williams – Lansing, MI 
You are someone’s last stop on their way to eternity.

Let me share a story about Barbara and her older brother. Barbara is a member of our church in Lansing and was concerned about her older brother who had lived a fairly rough life and didn’t know Christ. Barbara was the shy type, used very few words, loved Jesus, but didn’t know how to share her faith.

One day she came to church and I was teaching a series entitled “The Rescue,” about simple life-style evangelism. I gave the congregation the plan how to share Christ with their friends and loved ones and bring them to a decision. I told them to find a family member to “practice” their presentation on and ask them to critique them. Barbara went and saw her brother, asked him to critique her presentation (as her pastor suggested) and he was happy to do so. When she finished, she asked, “Would like to receive Jesus as your Savior?” Her brother responded, “Yes, I would.” “What? You mean you really would?” “Yes, Barbara, I really would. Nobody ever explained things to me like this before.” So, Barbara prayed the prayer of salvation with her brother, and visited him regularly to disciple him. Within six months, he died and went to heaven.

Hell is real and people go there. Heaven is real too and people can go there if they have a relationship with Jesus.

Three people that affect my life regarding evangelism were the late Rex Humbard, the late Lowell Lundstrom, and Ray Comfort.

Nobody knew how to bring people to Christ like Rex did. We became pretty good friends and stayed in touch since 1987 when he dedicated our new church facilities. In 1989, he visited my office, knelt down on the floor, laid his hands on me, and imparted an anointing to win souls. Find a man or woman who is a real soul-winner and see if he or she will impart something to you. Make sure you have a relationship with them and they know you before asking.

The second influencer was Lowell Lundstrom who also became a good friend over the years. I conducted his funeral not too long ago when he went to heaven. Lowell had more people coming to Jesus per capita than any preacher I’ve ever known. Lowell told me that no matter what you teach on or preach on, always weave in the doctrine of Christ, and when you do, people will come to Jesus. The doctrine of Christ basically is that Jesus is the eternal son of God, conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, lived a sinless life, went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil, died on the cross (not for his sin because He was sinless, but for the sin of the world—yours and mine), was buried, rose from the dead, ascended to heaven and promised to return to judge the living and the dead.

I preached on tithing one evening and my daughter had brought a friend to church. She was upset and mad that I was talking about tithing and kept signaling her discontent from the pews whenever I looked her way. I wove in the doctrine of Christ, and explained in less than one minute that we cannot save ourselves but need a Savior and that there is only one. No plan B. I invited people to come. That Sunday night 35 people came to Jesus and one of them was my daughter’s friend. My daughter was crying and repenting, saying she’ll never be mad at me again, no matter what I preach!

The third person I met in 1993 in Bloomfield, Minnesota, and his name is Ray Comfort. Ray taught me that there is only one reason people should come to Christ and that’s because we’ve all sinned and need Jesus as Savior. Don’t invite people to Christ to make them better husbands, give them better business, or give them greater joy. Jesus will do all that, but we come to him because we’ve sinned and need God’s only way to be saved.

Now, pastor, your members will model themselves after you. If you give altar calls, they will learn that it’s important. I tell pastors to ask their congregations if they can practice on them giving altar calls. One young pastor did this and three people came to Christ the first week.

Ken Gaub has a book on several different ways of reaching people for Jesus. Ken personally leads over 200 people a year to Christ (not counting altar calls). His book is about passion (Ken Gaub, PO Box 1, Yakima, Washington). Ray Comfort’s books are phenomenal too at “Way of the Master.” You can Google them.

You really are someone’s last stop on their way to eternity. What if everyone in your church led one person a year to Jesus? I just met a pastor who is in the middle of “nowhere” in Ohio. The closest village has a population on 70, but every week over 400 worshippers pack into his church from miles around. He told me that he has used my New Life book for new believers for over 15 years which helps in the discipling process. Also, I have a couple of books entitled Somebody Out There Needs You, and Supernatural Soulwinning. If you let us know you read this, we’ll give you the books for half price. Call 1-800-888-7284.

Pastor Tommy FiGart – Vinton, VA
I have found that for people to catch fish they need a net. Sometimes as ministers, we are guilty of preaching the word and expecting people to act on it independently. LOL. It’s important to provide evangelistic programs or activities in which people can participate. At Grace, we’ve implemented three methods to motivate our people toward evangelism that seem to be working.

  1. A Big Day – This can be a day in which we focus on an outreach to the community or a “bring a guest” day for one of our services. On these days, we have a definable attendance goal for the church to reach. We have done less of these more recently in lieu of the next two methods.
  2. Harvest Months – We have dedicated the last calendar month of each quarter as a harvest month for our people. During the first two months of a quarter we encourage members to seek to find an unchurched household to attend our services for three consecutive weeks during a harvest month.
  3. Outreach Campaigns – We’ve recently employed a program in conjunction with Billy Graham Evangelistic Association called “My Hope” in which we encourage members to sign up to be a “Matthew Home.” A “Matthew Home” holds a single meeting with 2-4 unchurched families in their home to review a brief video and then share briefly why Jesus is the hope of their life. At the conclusion of this meeting guests are given the opportunity to make a commitment to Christ and then are encouraged to attend church. To propagate the program, those that make commitments in a host home are encouraged to become a host home themselves.

I hope this helps.

Pastor Tommy FiGart – Vinton, VA
I have found that for people to catch fish they need a net. Sometimes as ministers, we are guilty of preaching the word and expecting people to act on it independently. LOL. It’s important to provide evangelistic programs or activities in which people can participate. At Grace, we’ve implemented three methods to motivate our people toward evangelism that seem to be working.

  1. A Big Day – This can be a day in which we focus on an outreach to the community or a “bring a guest” day for one of our services. On these days, we have a definable attendance goal for the church to reach. We have done less of these more recently in lieu of the next two methods.
  2. Harvest Months – We have dedicated the last calendar month of each quarter as a harvest month for our people. During the first two months of a quarter we encourage members to seek to find an unchurched household to attend our services for three consecutive weeks during a harvest month.
  3. Outreach Campaigns – We’ve recently employed a program in conjunction with Billy Graham Evangelistic Association called “My Hope” in which we encourage members to sign up to be a “Matthew Home.” A “Matthew Home” holds a single meeting with 2-4 unchurched families in their home to review a brief video and then share briefly why Jesus is the hope of their life. At the conclusion of this meeting guests are given the opportunity to make a commitment to Christ and then are encouraged to attend church. To propagate the program, those that make commitments in a host home are encouraged to become a host home themselves.

I hope this helps.

Pastor Al Jennings – Fort Wayne, IN
I appreciate your question. Several years ago, we had the same situation going on in our church. I had to change the culture of our church to be more outward-focused.

One thing we do is small groups, and we train our small group members to develop relationships with people who don’t know the Lord before preaching to them. This is friendship evangelism: winning a person to “you” before winning them to Jesus.

Also, we serve in the community. A couple of things we’ve done are trash pickup and handing out bottles of water at a baseball game. There are a lot of inexpensive things that you can do to serve in the community. A good book along these lines is, “Servolution,” by Dino Rizzo.

Pastor Thom Fields – Kennewick, WA
In the very first sentence of your question I believe you touched on the core of the issue and possibly a clue to the answer that you’re inquiring about. You said, “members of my church are more inward-focused than outward-focused.” It’s really all about FOCUS, isn’t it?

What you’re attempting to do is to change the culture of your church. Your current culture is focused upon touching the lives of the congregation, while your heart is calling you to touch the lives of the lost. It’s possible to do both!

I’m certain that you’re going to receive wonderful insights (which I look forward to reading myself) from this group of ministers that will encourage and empower you to get outside of the walls of your “church” and begin to impact your community for Christ. It’s something that every church, I believe, has to grapple with. It is a constant “point of concern” in our own house. However, I can share one insight that has made a very real impact upon our body in this arena—DEFINING SUCCESS.

I found that I needed to clarify SUCCESS to our entire congregation. To simplify this issue, I simply began to ask our team this question: what are the components to a successful weekend at our church? It was amazing how many different answers I received. Every department actually had multiple answers and none of them were actually the same! Our responses revealed that SUCCESS was in actuality an IMPOSSIBILITY for us, because in order for one department to succeed, another wouldn’t be able to accomplish their goal.

One of the answers received from the children’s department, for example, was for services to end exactly 72 minutes after they started while an answer turned in from the worship department was to encounter a worship experience (that included no teaching whatsoever) which lasted for several hours! Obviously, these are two of the extremes, but I think you get the point. I needed to clarify the true definition of success for us so that all the teams could work together towards achieving a common goal.

So, this is how we accomplished this AND shifted the FOCUS towards reaching those who weren’t currently included in our congregation at the same time. We defined SUCCESS this way: producing weekend services that the non-churched would enjoy so much that they’d return for more and bring other non-churched people with them.

Once we were able to get our teams on-board with striving to touch the non-churched it has become more and more easy to weave that mindset into the rest of the body. We talk about it from the pulpit by reminding people that most of what we do is intended to reach the “un-churched.” (This has forced me to adjust my approach to ministry, as well.) Once the congregation began to think about the un-churched, it became more reasonable to suggest that they get involved in our initiatives that moved us “outside of the building.” Outreaches to our community have become a large part of our culture now and people understand “why” we’re investing in local outreach … because we care about people we didn’t used to know we cared about!

It’s become a lot of fun. We have hundreds of people who sign up to go to local laundry mats and wash, dry, and fold clothes for people—NO STRINGS ATTACHED! We get the body to supply the soap and dryer sheets and the church supplies the quarters. We just go out and love on people. We’re systematically weaving outreach into the culture of our church.

Like I said, I’ve had to adjust my personal mindset, as well. I’ve had to recognize the value of personal discipline when comes to the style of teaching I present and the length of time I use to give the teaching. I am constantly having to find new ways to deepen the relationships within the church to insure spiritual growth is actually being accomplished, which means I’m having to spend more time evaluating our effectiveness on a more consistent basis. It isn’t easy reaching out to the lost while leading the flock into a deeper relationship with God. BUT—spiritual growth is measured by: A) Loving God More and B) Loving People More. When we can get the people to understand that our personal relationship with God is deepened by caring more for the unchurched – I believe THAT is when we’ll find REAL SUCCESS.

Pastor Brad Allen – San Mateo, CA 
It’s hard to invite a co-worker or a neighbor to hear a teaching series about the churches in revelations. But it’s easy to invite them to hear a sports figure, a special music presentation, even to a healing service.

Most pastors are good at stability, teaching, balance, etc. These are qualities that a good church must have. But to attract new visitors, sometimes you need something out of the norm.

Our church recently tried a car show, a veterans day, and several other themed days that really didn’t work. But when we had two speakers known for miracles in their ministries, attendance doubled on those days!  And “ding” the light went on.

So now about every 4-6 weeks, we try to have a guest speaker known for praying for the sick, or similar ministry gifts. Attendance is up 25% and we teach a balanced scriptural diet of faith, love, and redemption on the other four Sundays.

This may not be best for your church. But after many years of trying, we’ve found that this is working for us. If you look around, you may notice that a number of the bigger churches actually do this too. They may have big conferences and very well-known speakers, but it’s the same principle. Give people something that’s easy to invite people to and they will.

We’ve also used Evangelist Nick Kinn’s tract, “Have You Heard The Good News?” and his training is excellent. His training seminar at Heart of the Bay Church in Hayward was incredibly successful. I highly recommend him for mobilizing a church team for street witnessing. Some years ago, Billy Graham came to the Bay Area and led about 3,000 people to Christ at a cost of about $3M per night. A few months later, Nick Kinn brought a team to Heart of the Bay Church with Pastors Mark and Brenda Thomas and led over 2000 people to Christ in one 3 day weekend!!!  Same city.

Direct evangelism to most people in our area isn’t easy. But some things do work.

1. At Christmas, I dress up as Santa Claus and hand out candy canes stapled to the tract called “The Candy Cane Story” with a salvation message at the end. We print the tracts on red and green paper and I’ve literally been mobbed by kids getting out of the movie theater. Imagine that, being mobbed by people wanting a tract!!!

2. At Halloween, we had a lot of kids in our area and tons of trick-or-treaters. So we made it an outreach and gave out orange balloons printed with our church name and website and the words “With God all things are possible.” By the end of the evening the whole neighborhood was full of kids carrying these balloons. We’ve done the same thing at the local pumpkin festival very successfully.

3. We have tracts in Spanish that we take to the local day workers lined up near Home Depot and other areas of our city. We give them out with small candy bars and they’re appreciated and read by the recipients. These are precious people with big hearts. They are rarely refused and often we’ve been able to lead large groups in a salvation prayer and follow up prayers for work, healing, and finances.

4. My wife, GiGi, wrote a great little tract called “You Are Loved” that we hand out to grocery store clerks and bank tellers and professional people that usually would shy away from religious looking tracts.

I hope this helps. The “You Are Loved” tract is available for free from our church and reproducible. “The Story of the Candy Cane” is available online; just Google it.

Pastor John Lowe – Warsaw, IN
I believe the Great Commission is empowered by the Great Commandment, and true evangelism is not biblical if we don’t follow up with discipleship which is what we are commanded to do (to go and make disciples).

Our daily relationships are where our most fertile ground is to win the lost to Christ, meet needs, love people unconditionally, and give our life away to broken people. To involve ourselves in activities of the community, we can’t win the lost if we are always involved and attending church. Perhaps less programs and more loving them out there!!

Jesus met people in every day settings and impacted their lives. So if we are taught to really love God is to really love people, our love for the Lord is a direct result of our love for people. Love Jesus = Love people. No Love for people = no Love for Jesus. People just want to know, “will you love me?” The church should say yes, but we are too busy with activities to demonstrate love or to be involved in their lives.

To help people, like in Luke 10, it will cost you time, detour your plans or inconvenience you, cost you money, and risk your reputation. You have to get down where they are and lift them up out of the dirt and sometimes risk your life to help those close to perishing. Can’t do that in church. Get out and get dirty. I call it Dirty Evangelism; in the kitchen where it is hot.

Pastor John White – Decatur, AL
Every church should be evangelistic minded. I believe that has to be the heart- beat of every church. When we spend all our time teaching on the benefits, we forget what the benefits are for. Romans 2:4 says it’s the goodness of God that leads men to repentance. Sick and penniless Christians can go to heaven, but healed and prosperous people that are lost go to hell!

I ran into the same problem years ago. It seemed like I was continually putting on band-aids, so-to-speak, on my congregation and we became introverted, thinking only of ourselves and how to live victoriously and not really concerned about the lost. As the Lord dealt with me, I began to teach on soul- winning. I did a series on evangelism and had a special Sunday designated to bring in the lost. We had 40 people saved that day. The next week 20, and every Sunday since then we always have multiple people saved in every service. And if we don’t, I get concerned and remind the people of our responsibility. I had to teach our congregation that the special evangelism day we had was only the beginning and not the end. It has to become a way of life. Like one lady told me, she used to go to the grocery store to buy groceries now she goes to the grocery store to witness, and while she’s there she buys groceries.

I continue to minister on the benefits of our covenant with God but always tie in the purpose. If the benefits of being a Christian is all we are seeking after, there is no need for God to keeps us on this earth, let all go on to heaven. No, we are not left here after we’re saved for a little R and R—rest and relaxation. We are left here for a purpose and that is to enlarge the Kingdom of God by plundering Hell to populate Heaven.

Pastor Terry Roberts – Warrenton, MO
My experience has been similar, so I adapted some principles from some ministers who were very good at targeting the lost without changing the message. They all talk about developing friendships with the lost. Most Christians are not witnessing because they are insulated from the lost. They aren’t typically “a friend of sinners.”

We find that people are more likely to invite friends to events that are interest-driven rather than a regular church service. This can be marriage, money principles, or a guest speaker with a great testimony.

The other problem is having weekend services that are so unpredictable that it keeps Christians from inviting their friends. You will need to seek the Lord about having different services for different things. Create a format that explains anything that just happened to anyone who doesn’t understand. You can have believer’s services where anything goes, but if every service is like that we are in danger of creating the Corinthian error where unbelievers think we are mad. Kenneth Hagin comments in Plans, Purposes, and Pursuits about most full gospel churches fishing from their bathtubs. We are often quick to accuse churches that reach the lost as compromising but the real question is if a church is aimed more at the believer than the unbeliever, who is really compromising?

The challenge is to be a Spirit-filled church, after all, he was sent to empower us to reach the lost, and still be attractive to the unlearned and unreached. It is possible to do both.

Pastor Jim Blanchard – Virginia Beach, VA
A lot of the Rhema graduates are ‘teaching oriented’ as an emphasis in ministry. In fact, a pastor is tasked scripturally with feeding the sheep (God’s people). Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him; He said if Peter really loved Jesus, he would feed His lambs and those lambs would become sheep. This denoted the growth of believers who received the teaching of God’s Word over a process of time. Peter also received a mighty impartation of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost to preach his first sermon; the Bible records that 3,000 were added to the church in one day!

Practically speaking, I believe that a good suggestion would be to begin an evangelism team. This team would meet at the church to pray and then go and canvas the local neighborhoods with door hangers with information about the church, pastor, and ministry. Friendly, outgoing, and evangelistic-minded people are best for this task.

Also, I believe that we should be led by the Spirit on how to become involved with community outreach; perhaps being a blessing to local police, fire depts., food banks, etc. An “Each One Bring One Sunday Campaign” also seems to work to bring visitors to your church. The pastor asks everyone to invite someone to church on a particular Sunday. The church has the potential to double in one day! Also, consider partnering with some missions outreaches and have some of the missionaries share about their calling; this seems to evoke some missions focus for a season. May the Lord bless your evangelism efforts!

Pastor James Hosack – Carlsbad, NM
While books on this subject can be helpful (such as “GO BIG”), I have found that mentoring under a pastor who has been very successful, has been very helpful.

We believe that we do not need a special “call” to reach the lost, as we are already instructed to “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel.”

I believe that there is nothing wrong with planning outreaches to our community. While we still feel that we need to do more of these, we have done the following things over the past two years to reach out to our community:

1.) Family Carnival
We heavily advertised and hosted a family carnival with blow-up games, live band, carnival tent stations with face painting, ring toss, and other such games – with prizes for children. We included free hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, drinks, and ice cream bars. Our 23 volunteers wore t-shirts with the event name for easy identification. I preached an evangelistic message, and a small handful of individuals responded to the altar call.

We advertised door prizes, and drew numbers for winners after the altar call had been completed. Through this event, we were able to make thousands of local residents aware of our church and what we were doing.

2.) Law Enforcement Outreach
We hosted a Fall Police Outreach by decorating the local police department lunchroom and serving a large variety of cakes, pies, ice cream, etc., to say “thank you” to our local police force. We made it very clear to the chief of police, that there were “no strings attached;” that we just wanted to thank and honor our police force for their service to our community. We stocked the refrigerator full of desserts for the remainder of the force who were not present for the shift that we served. We also left plenty of coffee mugs with our church name for the officers. One family began to attend our church after contacting the police department for a recommendation of good schools and churches in our area as they moved into town. The police know that someone out there in the community cares about them, appreciates them, and is praying for them.

3.) Door-to-door Ministry
We have done some door-to-door ministry sharing the gospel with residents of our community. While very few visited our church building as a result, many had our church visit their home through this outreach. We were able to lead several individuals to the Lord and increase the Kingdom of God. We found that returning to the most interested person’s homes bore more fruit. It also enabled us to understand the needs and the heartbeat of our community much better.

4.) Mailing Campaign
We have divided up our surrounding neighborhoods into mailing zones. We designed mailing cards with a brief invitation message and mailed 1000s of cards to these various zones. We have seen some visitors come out as a result of these mailings.

5.) Harvest Party Outreach
We host neighborhood Harvest Party outreaches in lieu of Halloween. Last October we had approximately 100 children and their parents come through our Harvest Party set up at our building, full of games, music videos, prizes, and costumes were limited to Bible characters or super heroes. Some witches and ghosts slipped in—but our staff loved on them and we conducted an altar call and sent Halloween-oriented tracts home with our visitors.

6.) Concert
We hosted a full band worship concert and advertised to the community.

7.) Advertising
We have advertised in a variety of community venues such as relocation magazines, newspapers, high school football calendars, mailers, door-to-door invitations, former visitor and former attender mailings to invite people back to visit us again. We have a business card sized invitation to our church with a map and service times on reverse side, and our website and Facebook page.

8.) Sidewalk Signs
Another thing we have done is to use large sidewalk signs, placed on a nearby major roadway, to advertise and direct people to our church, since we are located on a side street that is out of the way. We have had people find us because of these signs which we chain to posts along the main road—and we have begun to leave these up permanently—working for us 7 days a week. We have begun to have new visitors responding to these signs.

9.) Local Vendor Assistance
A local gift shop in our town has asked us for our invitation cards to give out, claiming that those relocating to town will often stop in and ask for references on churches and restaurants. They will give them our invitation card.

10.) Community Memberships
Involvement in our local chamber of commerce has provided additional exposure for our church throughout the business community.

Involvement with community development organizations provides listings on websites, and sometimes opportunities to provide specialty advertising items (such as key chains, cups, and pens) to locally sponsored business events.

11.) Professionals Invite Their Peers
Musicians invite musicians, teachers, police, firemen and people of other professions who will join your church and begin inviting their friends and associates to the church.

As the pastor of our church, I feel that there is much more that we can and need to be doing to reach out to our community, however, in just two years, we have begun to do all of these things and have witnessed our church doubling in attendance already!

Your outreaches do not have to be earth-shaking or bring in huge crowds overnight to your church. Just get out into your community and do something to meet people, help people, love people, and serve people, and you will find that over time, this will increase your influence and impact into your community. Take your church outside of its walls and minister life to those who may never want to visit your church location. Take your church to them!

Even if your people seem more inward and you feel that you are teaching-oriented, you will find yourself and your people becoming more outreach-minded when you see the church begin to grow and you and your people begin to taste what it is like to get out into your community and win people to the Lord. I believe that it will help to rekindle and refire your church and your ministry!

Pastor Virgil Stokes – Tucson, AZ
I love this topic! Our church is pretty outreach inclined. We have folks teaching in the jails, drug treatment facilities, and in halfway houses around the city. We have an outreach to the homeless, and a van that picks folks up and brings them to church. Getting neighbors and loved ones to church is an ongoing priority for the majority of our church family.

When I read your question, it made me ask, “Why, do they do so much to reach others?” I could say that I am a fiery evangelistic person, but I would be lying. I am a teacher and a project designer- more of a steady, plodding, analytical type. Since I didn’t have a ready answer, I decided to ask some of my leadership, mostly laymen, who have been involved in other churches. They all agreed that we have a church culture that is outward focused with a high percentage of involvement in outreach activities. They offered several observations concerning what is at the root of that culture. I will share their consensus with you.

  1. We have a consistent emphasis on finding and developing the gifts in the members of the congregation. We call it being “an organism rather than an organization.” The ministry of our church arises from the hearts of the members, not the boxes on our organizational chart. That means we believe that each member has a gift and a calling. Our job is to help them identify their gift and prepare them to fulfill their calling. Part of that commitment is to provide each person who has a passion with an opportunity to turn that passion into ministry. We have a clear path for writing a vision and formulating a plan. Each idea gets personal attention from someone in leadership to nurture it to fruition. If God’s heart is outreach, then if our people fulfill what He puts in their hearts we will have outreach! The results for us are evident in our prison ministry, homeless outreach, and our support groups in treatment facilities among others.
  2. We provide a clear path of preparation for those who want to grow in their ability to minister to others. The core of our church is an in-house ministry training program. The focus is not just on 5-fold ministry, though we have launched a good number of those, but on the ministry of the individual believer. We train them to share their faith, lead people to Christ, minister the Baptism of the Spirit, and lay hands on the sick. We have found that most sincere Christians want to share with others, but they are easily intimidated because they feel inadequate. In addition to teaching them, we make an organized effort to connect every church member with some place of service. Practice doesn’t make perfect, but it does make permanent. Knowledge, practice, and encouragement lead to the three big keys to effective individual action:
    1. Competence: I know what to do.
    2. Confidence: I have experiences that tell me I can do it.
    3. Commitment: I have an attitude that says I will finish my course.
  3. We communicate the idea of reaching others in everything we do. We talk about it. We put it in the bulletin: “Potluck dinner on Sunday—a great chance to invite your unsaved loved ones!” We let people testify when they have a positive experience of reaching others: we make a big deal when someone gets saved or blessed through the hands of the saints. I include it in the fabric of the teaching. The purpose of the ministry gifts is to prepare the saints for the work of the ministry so that the Body of Christ might be built up. We say it over and over again: “We are here to prepare you to do the work.” In addition, we attempt to model community-minded behavior. I began by doing services in the county jail and taking volunteers along with me. We opened our building to a support group for addicts. I volunteered to do services at the city rescue mission, again taking volunteers with me. We visited treatment facilities and met the leadership there, offering our services for anything we could do to help. Doors opened. All these areas are now in the hands of people in our church whom we have trained. I am here to train and empower, then get out of the way.
  4. From my personal perspective, maybe the biggest thing we have done to facilitate the growth of our outreach is to modify our criteria for success. First, we quit trying to build a church. Jesus said He will build His church. My job is to build people, the living stones that He uses in His construction project. Second, I came to the place where I no longer measure success by the number who attend, but by the number who serve. If I am here to build people and equip them for ministry, then my measure of success is in the percentage who are actively pursuing some area of service. Our focus is never on how many fannies we can get in the seats. It is always on how many laborers we can send to the harvest. The Lord spoke to me a few years ago while meditating on Matthew 9:37-38: “The problem is not lack of fannies in the pew. It is a lack of laborers in the harvest.”

I have been in plenty of places where we were harangued to win the lost (I have even been guilty of doing some of the haranguing myself). I have passed out tracts, knocked on doors, and been made to feel guilty if I wasn’t mugging sinners on the street. None of those things were very effective—law doesn’t work any better in this area than it did for salvation. What does work is training and encouraging people to do what is in their hearts. Christians want others to know Jesus. That desire comes automatically when the Spirit comes to dwell on the inside. All they need is a firm knowledge base, an opportunity, and an occasional “attaboy.” God’s best to you in your quest. God is on your side.

Pastor Doug Foutty – Parkersburg, WV
I am blessed to have a wife who only thinks about evangelism. She keeps the vision alive and before the people concerning outreach for salvation. I believe that it would help if you would have several of your members stand up and testify of their personal salvation experience: where it happened, who led them to the Lord, what changed in their lives, etc. Then, take a few minutes to ask them what would have happened if the person that had been praying for them had been lazy and disobedient. Ask them what would have happened if the person who led them to the Lord had been lazy or too scared to get out of their comfort zone to share the gospel with them. The answers should be quite sobering. Remind them that THEY have an assignment from God. Eternity depends on their obedience. Remind them that faith is action and without faith it is impossible to please God! Just how much longer are they planning on displeasing God? The cure for all of this is to actually lead someone to the Lord and hear the testimony and watch the transformation. Evangelistic ministry should begin to spread like wildfire from that point on.

Pastor Jesse Zepeda – Pflugerville, TX
We face the same situation in our church. Most of us invite and some say they’ll come but do not show up, other’s just say no and still others are hostile towards the invitation. It can get pretty discouraging.

I asked our congregation what could we do better. The response was that it’s still a personal matter.

I reminded them that someone prayed for us and someone invited us to church. Where would we be if no one had cared about us?

Out of this conversation, we, the leaders decided to hold a special Wednesday night meeting and encouraged everyone to invite and bring someone. It is like an open house – for people to get acquainted with our church.

Pastor Duane Hanson – Saint Paul, MN
I can totally identify with the pastor who wrote this question! I’ve struggled with this same issue for years. (I will confess my fault and acknowledge that I’ve dealt with a certain measure of frustration, guilt & condemnation at times! I’ve even made excuses for myself about my inability to “do the work of an Evangelist!”) I’ve read countless books, attended numerous seminars about church growth and outreach, and I’m still not satisfied that I’ve even begun to scratch the surface of this issue! Honestly… I need help!

The only times I’ve seen an ounce of potential success has been during those rare seasons when we’ve had someone in our church who had a real “zeal for the lost,” and their zeal would occasionally become contagious. But sadly, they would get frustrated when they didn’t see the same level of zeal in others, or failed to experience the results they expected. Eventually they became disappointed and annoyed with the lack of involvement from others in the congregation. Rather than staying to help train and motivate those few who might develop into genuine “soul winners” that could help them, they would either move on to another church, or in most cases, they’d go “solo” as a self-appointed “soul-winner” at large. (Unfortunately, many of these “solosoul winners would confess their “love” for the sinner, but also voice their disdain for the Saints in the Church. Consequently, their new converts would not be introduced to the Body of Christ, or assimilated into a congregation where they could grow and mature as Believers.)

More than anything, I believe the answer lies with the power of prayer. Our prayers continue to be based on the Promises found in a variety of Scriptures: Psalm 2:8, Psalm 126:5-6, Amos 9:13, John 4:34-38, 1 Cor. 3:6 (To name just a few!)  But the primary Scriptures we’re standing on are found in Luke 10:2 and Matthew 9:35~38, that the Lord would send us just a few solid “laborers” who would “see” what Jesus saw when He looked at the multitudes, and that our people would be moved with compassion to help us gather the harvest. I continue to believe that there are people who genuinely have a heart for souls, and who will purpose to stay involved with the Local Church and help them win the lost in their community!  So if you’re one of those who believes you are a “soul-winner,” and you have that evangelistic flair in your life, and you feel drawn to help out a church that needs your giftedness…please know that there are countless Pastor’s just like me who are praying that someone like you would respond like Paul did to his vision of the man from Macedonia who said—“come over… and help us!”  (Acts 16:9)