Encouraging Evangelism in Your Congregation
By Bryan Tener
Evangelism, although it is vitally important for the life of the church, is not always held in high esteem or seen as a central aspect of discipleship. It has become just one of many programs of the church, or it is seen as the job of the pastor.
Evangelism can no longer be the job of one person. The entire church is entrusted with the gift of hope that is offered through the good news of Jesus Christ. It might be helpful to think of yourself, someone passionate and excited about evangelism because of the work God has done within you, as a catalyst and encourager for your evangelism team and your congregation. While it’s not easy to change the culture of a congregation, especially if evangelism has been pushed to the side, there are some small steps that can be taken to begin to change the culture to be more evangelistic.
Praying, gathering others for a Bible study, providing training for your congregation, planning an event, and consistently lifting up faith sharing within meetings, gatherings, and worship can work to begin to shift the culture toward a focus on evangelism. But to do these tasks on your own can be daunting. One way to help develop a culture of evangelism is to create an evangelism team whose gifts can be used to help produce an evangelistic focus for the whole congregation.
Creating an evangelism team could be an opportunity to start something life-giving. It is a great way to live into the changes that have occurred over the last few years as a result of the pandemic, the denominational schism, and major cultural and social shifts. By spending time listening to those within the congregation, neighborhood, and community, and to God’s call, your church can gain a lot as it encourages a vibrant life-giving witness made known in and through the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
To start building an evangelism team, begin with prayer. Listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit about whom you might invite to serve on the team. This may mean listening to the people through whom the Holy Spirit might be speaking. The pastor or nominations committee might offer suggestions for new team members.
Begin with a small group of people who represent the makeup of the congregation and the community. As a team, begin the work of promoting evangelism as a core part of discipleship. Develop a strategy that builds relationships with those not yet a part of the congregation. Invite them into the life of the faith community and discipleship.
How might you invite others into sharing the good news of Jesus Christ?
How can you encourage and support others to share the good news?
What training or support would be most helpful to help people grow toward sharing the good news?
What action steps might you and the team take first? Listening to community/leaders? to people in the neighborhood? Identifying third spaces (where people spend time outside of work or home)? Identifying team members’ own faith stories?
What evangelism goals could you and the team set?
While you might be building an evangelism team, keep in mind that evangelism isn’t just something left up to the team or to the pastor or to you. Evangelism is the work all disciples are invited into — bearing witness to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the transformative power offered. As we grow in our discipleship, our lives are transformed. Whether that transformation occurs slowly day by day or very fast after a formative event, we know that the love that God offers us is offered back to God as we share that love and good news with others. Evangelism is the work of all Christians. The church cannot afford to leave the evangelistic task to a handful of people. We are all to share this transformative love with others.
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