How do you define leadership? Leadership is defining reality. The reality is the North American church must do better at evangelism. Here are five practical ways church leaders—pastors, staff, key laity, and denominational or parachurch leaders—can define ways to lead others to share Christ:
1. Model witnessing personally.
I am afraid too many pastors today talk about evangelism far better than we practice it. Ask yourself: in all your talk about the need to reach the world, gospel centrality, missional Christianity, and the mission of God, how often do you personally, actually share Jesus with people who do not know Him? How many friends do you have, real friends, who are not saved? How often does the word evangelism come from your lips and your life? If all we have is the idea of the Great Commission, but rarely actually evangelize, are we not the chief of hypocrites?
2. Prioritize personal evangelism.
We all are busy, but we all have time to do the things we value the most. If sharing Jesus with the lost around us — for our own spiritual growth, for the glory of God, as an example to our people, and for the salvation of sinners — is a low priority, we actually contribute to the decline in the American church. If you want to help your people take evangelism seriously, simply share regular examples of your own witness, and witness regularly with your people.
3. Provide ways for people to learn to share and to witness regularly.
This August I taught a resource called Life: 3 Circles briefly in chapel and to our young pros ministry I lead at our church. is a beautiful way of sharing Christ that allows the witness to intersect the gospel with a person’s life wherever they are in life. The Story (www.viewthestory.com) is another resource I use. We need more than training, but many of our people need help in this area.
4. Structure our churches in such a way to give evangelism a priority.
People imitate what we celebrate. If winning people to Christ matters, it will be seen in meetings, in our worship services, our printed materials, and in how we organize and schedule everything. If we say we want to see people saved, but all our announcements, services, and events focus on pleasing the folks already in the church, we are already dying.
5. Lead people to pray for God’s good hand on our efforts as we serve Him.
Let me be candid: I’ve been burdened about our young pros ministry at church and my own witness. I was off grid on sabbatical this past spring, and wanted to see more gospel fruit. This summer God has allowed me to see several come to faith in my witness and has allowed the chance to let other young pros be with me when that happened. This is a direct answer to a burden of prayer I’ve had. I don’t always have this, and I long to have it always. We pray most for that which we desire to see.
What would you add to this list?
Alvin L. “Doc” Reid serves as Senior Professor of Evangelism and Student Ministry at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he has been since 1995. He is also the founding Bailey Smith Chair of Evangelism. Alvin and his wife Michelle have two married children: Joshua and his wife Jacqueline, and Hannah and her husband Corey. Hannah and Corey recently welcomed Doc’s first grandchild, Lincoln James. He also serves as Pastor to Young Professionals at Richland Creek Community Church. Alvin travels extensively speaking and has authored a number of books. His most recent is Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out (B&H Academic).