By Chuck Lawless
In last week’s post, I shared six findings about pastors and personal evangelism, based on a study of leaders of 100 evangelistic churches in my denomination. Here are the final eight findings:
- When the leaders get discouraged in doing personal evangelism, they turn to prayer (30%), continued, faithful seed sowing (19%), trusting God with results (18%), and Bible reading (12%) for encouragement. The point is not that these evangelistic leaders don’t get discouraged; they simply do not let discouragement with results cause them to be disobedient. They press on, believing God will eventually use their efforts. 70% had, in fact, shared their faith with somebody in the week prior to their responding to this survey.
- They believe repentance must be a part of the gospel presentation. 97% disagreed with the statement, “Repentance is not required for someone to be saved; belief is all that is necessary.” For these leaders, Jesus’ call to repent and believe (Mark 1:15) has not changed.
- These leaders differ on when baptism should occur. 33% agreed with, but 60% disagreed with the belief that, “Baptism should be delayed until a new convert gives adequate evidence of a genuine conversion.” Our team did not follow up this finding, but we are certain no respondent would want to baptize an unconverted person; these leaders simply differ on whether scripture prescribes immediate baptism.
- These pastors see a decline in evangelistic passion among believers. 92% indicated that new believers are typically excited about telling others about Jesus, but 84% also believe most believers lose their passion for evangelism. In fact, 27% of these leaders said they, too, have been more committed to evangelism in the past than they are now. Apparently, even evangelistic leaders must work at the task.
- 91% disagreed with the statement, “Effective evangelism comes naturally to believers; it requires little or no training.” Only 16% believe evangelism is the easiest church ministry. Indeed, 98% of these church leaders had themselves completed some kind of evangelism training, whether in an academic setting (67%) or otherwise. The “Romans Road” approach to evangelism was the strategy these leaders most commonly used.
- These leaders do not agree on whether a “gift of evangelism” exists. 63% affirmed, “There is a gift of evangelism that God gives to particular believers,” but 33% disagreed with that conclusion. They recognize the role of the evangelist (Eph. 4:11), yet not all agree that God gives an actual gift of evangelism to some believers.
- 60% agreed affirmed the conclusion, “Most Christians are so far out of touch with the world around them that they know little of its fears, problems, concerns, or issues.” These leaders recognize the real danger of Christian “cocooning,” of believers viewing the church as a place of retreat from the world rather than a place to re-arm for the spiritual battle. Thus, church leaders are often encouraging members to evangelize people they neither know nor understand.
- Yet, 84% percent agreed with the statement, “Most non-believers I talk to are open to talking about Christ.” The non-believers may not respond positively to the gospel at that point, but nor are they opposed to a conversation about Jesus. That finding ought to give us hope as we strive to be evangelistic.
The leaders in this study have built evangelism into their life and ministry. Is evangelism in your DNA? When was the last time you intentionally shared the story of Christ? Which of these findings most challenges you?