Creating an Evangelistic Church

I recently enjoyed attending and leading a breakout at Amplify, an evangelism conference hosted by the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College. One of the speakers there was my friend Lee Strobel. I first met Lee at Willow Creek 25 years ago when I taught at Houston Baptist University. Now, Lee is a professor at HBU where he and others have founded the Center for Strategic Evangelism. At Amplify Lee offered six stages for explosive evangelistic growth. I found these to be spot on and wanted to share those with you. I’ve added my own thoughts to his main points.

Leaders must own and model the value that lost people matter to God.

As Thom Rainer notes in the Foreword to my Evangelism Handbook, 53% of pastors he surveyed had not shared Christ with anyone in the previous six months.  Your church collectively will not be more evangelistic than you are personally. To paraphrase Richard Baxter: “Your people can tell if you have been with God: that will be most in their ears that is most in your heart.”

Leaders must instill this evangelistic value into their congregation.

It’s vital to help others see how an evangelistic lifestyle is normal for us as believers. Lee observed that if you flew into O’Hare airport and saw only one plane a day you would know something was not normal. I told the students with me at the conference that if leaders would share a story once a week about someone they had shared Christ with for a few months, before long people in the pews would see the importance of sharing Christ.

Leaders must empower a point person to lead the charge in evangelism.

Someone has to be the spokesman. The pastor has to lead, certainly, but someone should be the point person for the evangelistic work your church is doing. We have to be careful here not to give the impression that we have a “hired gun” to do the work in their place. But we have worship pastors because that’s vital, and student pastors because we love students, and yet we say fulfilling the Great Commission is fundamental to our work as a church, but no one is clearly the leader of that. “Nothing gets done in the church unless there is a name assigned to it,” Lee noted. He quoted Rick Warren: “If I’m starting a church and have 5 people, one is going to focus on evangelism.”

Leaders must train `100% of the congregation to naturally and effectively share their faith.

I know churches where pastors take the Sunday morning service more than once a year to do this. It should be both natural—according to who they are, and effective—connecting the gospel to lost people. I have a book called Sharing Jesus without Freaking Out coming out April 2017 aimed specifically at this.

Leaders must unleash those who are especially passionate about evangelism.

Some people are especially wired toward reaching people; we need to encourage and release them.

Leaders must create catalytic ministries and events to reach their communities for Christ. 

In our desire to help believers live missionally to reach those in their everyday life, we mustn’t stop having events and outreach opportunities to help members both invite others and share Christ at such events.

I think these are outstanding. Is there something you would add? Is there something here you see is missing?  Let’s be busy about the gospel.

Alvin Reid Contributor
Senior Professor of Evangelism and Student Ministry , SEBTS

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).

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