I recently wrote an article that offered ten questions to help you diagnose the evangelistic health of your church. A couple of the readers asked insightful questions related to the culture of a church. Specifically, they wanted to know how a church could create a culture to become more evangelistic.
While the creation of an evangelistic culture cannot be reduced to a simple formulaic approach, I can offer four suggestions of a more practical nature.
Church Culture Shift #1: Leadership Must Model a Passion for Evangelism. The first church I served as pastor had not seen one person become a Christian in 26 years. Rather than complain to the congregation about their evangelistic ineptness, I began praying for opportunities for me to be a gospel witness in the community. I was amazed how many doors God opened. I was amazed to see how many people responded positively to the gospel. And I was amazed to see how others began to follow my leadership example. Within one year the church that had seen no baptisms in 26 years had, ironically, 26 baptisms in one year.
Church Culture Shift #2: Ask one Sunday school class or small group to become an evangelistic group for one year. This approach creates a system of accountability on a small scale. That one small group understands that it has been selected to be an example for the rest of the church. Watch what will happen within that one group. Watch how the group members become more intentionally evangelistic. Watch how they will become more prayerfully creative and excited to reach people with the gospel.
Church Culture Shift #3: Begin a small-scale evangelistic mentoring approach. Again, asking a person to mentor another person engenders accountability. In my first church, I mentored a new Christian named Steve. I taught him how to begin a conversation about Jesus. We worked together on the essential elements of a gospel presentation. At first we went together to talk with those who weren’t Christians. Steve eventually became more comfortable sharing Christ on his own, and he soon began mentoring someone as I had mentored him.
Church Culture Shift #4: Make certain corporate prayers include praying for the lost. Most church members are not hesitant to pray for the physical needs of people. But rare is the church that prays together for those who are not Christians. A few churches, though, pray for lost people by name. Others are more comfortable praying in general for the non-Christians in the community. As the church begins to pray for the lostness of her community, God often begins to demonstrate clear answers to those prayers. And the culture of the church becomes decidedly more evangelistic in its culture as the prayers are infused with a burden for those who are not followers of Jesus Christ.
Of course, these four suggested church culture shifts are far from exhaustive. In many ways, they are but a starting point.
What would you add to this list? What is your church doing to create a more evangelistic culture?
Pastor to Pastor is the Saturday blog series at ThomRainer.com. Pastors and staff, if we can help in any way, contact Steve Drake, our director of pastoral relations, at Steve.Drake@LifeWay.com. We also welcome contacts from laypersons in churches asking questions about pastors, churches, or the pastor search process.