“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” Proverbs 11:30
This section is dedicated to the discussion of Leakage 1, Lost Audience. This happens when you restrict your growth because your church is not reaching out to non-members. By almost any metric, the churches in our generation are much less evangelistic than they were in the recent past. Evangelism is that magnet that gets visitors into your church. If you want to grow you should build and support a culture of evangelism. Studies have shown that the average church will lose about 10% of their members each year and will only convert about 15% of visitors to full members. This means that a church has to attract the equivalent of 75% of their church size in new members each year just to maintain their church size. Studies have also show that most growing churches are doing so through transfer growth.
In simplest terms, transfer growth is a church member moving his or her membership from one church to another. Some of the funny phrases used for this growth are “shuffling of the sheep,” “sheep swapping,” and “circulation of the saints.” Much of transfer growth has been the result of the consumer mentality creeping into churches. Many Christians have become church hoppers and shoppers to find the right church that meets their needs and preferences. They view a local congregation as a country club with perks for the members.
There is nothing wrong when people from other churches come and join your church. However, the growth we are mainly focused on this platform is one where church growth is through reaching the lost and unchurched people in our communities. Unfortunately, the church today is addicted to transfer growth. Consider these grim statistics regarding the state of evangelism in the church.
95% of all Christians have never won a soul to Christ.
80% of all Christians do not consistently witness for Christ.
Less than 2% are involved in the ministry of evangelism.
71% do not give toward the financing of the great Commission.
One particular denomination did a survey on its leadership ministries regarding evangelism. The results are as follows:
63% of the leadership in this denomination, including deacons and elders, have not led one stranger to Jesus in the last two years.
49% of the leadership ministries spend zero time in an average week ministering outside of the church.
89% of the leadership ministries have zero time reserved on their list of weekly priorities for going out to evangelize.
99% of the leadership ministries believe that every Christian, including leadership, has been commanded to preach the gospel to a lost world.
97% believe that if the leadership had a greater conviction and involvement in evangelism, that it would be an example for the church to follow.
96% of the leadership believe their churches would have grown faster if they would have been more involved in evangelism.
It is clear from these statistics that every church needs to do more in the area of evangelism. We believe that every church should have at its disposal a variety of evangelism and outreach programs that suit their particular environment. Different strokes for different folks. People we are trying to reach with the word come from a variety of backgrounds. God is not “a cookie-cutter or one size fits all God” who wants everyone’s spiritual experience to be the same. Rather, God treats each one of us as the unique individuals who we were created us to be. Our unique personhood is at the very heart of evangelism. By having a variety of programs your church will expand the ways through which God can transform people’s lives.
In our tools and material, we make a clear distinction between Evangelism and Outreach.
EVANGELISM is primarily the sharing verbally, as well as sharing in print, the Word of Life (the Gospel of Christ). Put in other terms evangelism provides a communicated message—the Gospel of Christ—that includes a warning about sin and the consequences of sin, an explanation of the Gospel of Christ (the ONLY solution God has provided for sin), and a call to true repentance. So all programs whose primary objective is communicating the Gospel will be classified as evangelistic.
On the other hand, OUTREACH involves the acts of Christian service and charity, social outreach to your community. Sometimes not always, as part of serving the community, the people will be able to talk about their personal relationship with Christ? Outreach implies action more than message. Perhaps it is best defined as a business term as an act of reaching out, bringing an organization’s services or products out into the community.” When a church engages in outreach, it is reaching out to the community in order to meet needs or to let people know of its existence.
Through Outreach, unbelievers are given a glimpse of the love of Christ through believers. Believers take their love for the lost into the community and allow them to see changed hearts in action. There is usually nothing offensive about outreach, and it is often regarded as noble, even by those who are opposed to Christ.
From the account above, there is clearly a significant difference between outreach and evangelism. They are both noble actions and bring honour to God. It is important to realize, and this should be clear through the descriptions, that they are not synonymous. The greatest difference is that evangelism is primarily a message while outreach is primarily an action.
We should note that there may be an important link between outreach and evangelism. Often times we reach out to people to draw them into a place where we can evangelize to them. We may provide children with an opportunity to have fun so that we can invite their parents to come to our church where we will take the opportunity to share the Good News with them. It is the hope of any believer that his actions will cause others to realize he is somehow different and convict that person so he can ask what makes the believer different.
We have an electronic library with more than 50 practical Evangelism and Outreach Programs that you church can choose from.
Bring Someone to Church Programs
These are very common programs where church members are encouraged to bring someone to church as part of the church’s growth program. There are a number of key factors that will determine the success of such programs. If there is no proper planning by the church leaders the work done by members to bring someone to church is wasted effort.
Depending on the location of your church, there are some areas where it’s not possible to hold crusades. For those who are able to do evangelism crusades they are very exciting and effective evangelistic activities. We will cover how to hold successful crusades in later sections.
During his earthly ministry, Jesus did not hesitate to speak with people he met on the road and in other public places. (Luke 9:57-61; John 4:7) He wanted to share his important message with as many people as possible. Street witnessing is an excellent evangelistic tool. Street witnessing enables us to scatter many seeds of truth in a short period of time (Ecclesiastes. 11:6) Some people we meet in the streets may be those we have no chance of ever meeting elsewhere. Success in this initiative takes planning and discernment. In a later section, more time will be dedicated to discuss the key success elements of this tool.
Door to Door Witnessing
You may wonder if people even open their doors to strangers these days or give you the time to talk about church stuff. They DO open the doors – some neighbourhoods more than others. However, when you knock on a stranger’s door, more people are open to a church invitation than a gospel presentation–but a significant minority are open to both. According to the survey, people are far more open to people coming to their door with that simple invitation than trying to tell them how to get into heaven. In that regard you can use door to door programs to invite people to church and then begin building a relationship that leads into the sharing of the gospel.
Community Volunteer Activities
Effective congregations go into the world and are visible to the surrounding community. Your church can organise members as volunteers and then choose community problems you will help solve. This is a great way to interact with the community and an opportunity to either share the gospel or invite them to church. Examples of activities in this category include, picking up trash at the local shopping centre whilst dressed in branded church t-shirts or cutting over grown grass in a local recreational park.
Bridge events are designed explicitly to draw people from the community by providing for them something they need or enjoy; for instance, career guidance seminars for youths in your community run by professionals in your church or pitching a wellness tent for free medical checks. The wellness tent can be run by a few medical professionals in your church plus volunteers. There are many creative bridge events that can be run. Once people come to the bridge event it’s easy to create relationships that will lead to sharing of the gospel.
When Jesus gave the commandment, ‘Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel,’ the disciples were on foot. There was no television, no radio, no airplanes and certainly no internet. What a difference 2,000 years can make! Or for that matter, 10 years. Today, more and more people are coming to faith in Christ by logging onto the World Wide Web. Ten years ago, there were only a few million users worldwide, mostly in developed Western nations; today, more than one billion people access the World Wide Web. When people in your community are looking for answers to life’s hard questions, they don’t always come to your church to learn the answers. In fact, many people rely on search engines like Google to find answers, advice, and local church options. Your church should develop its website and social media platforms with evangelism in mind.
In the next section, we will discuss the tools we have put in place to bolster the efforts of your evangelism and outreach departments.