It is easy to implement a strategy, but not quite so easy to implement an effective strategy. Whether it is a military campaign, business venture, or church undertaking, the strategy must be both workable and effective.
Generally a church will know fairly quickly whether or not a strategy is workable; effectiveness is sometimes more elusive. In this article I will outline four keys to ensuring that your church’s evangelism strategy is effective.
An effective churchwide evangelism strategy uses the right goals.
That means that the goal must be measurable, and that you must be measuring the correct thing. This necessarily means numbers (they are not evil). Some churches choose a goal of higher baptisms, others choose increase membership, while some go for higher attendance. All of these are worthy, but none qualify as the optimal goal. Rather, they can be three means of measuring success, but none of them define success.
So what is ‘success’ in a church evangelism strategy? Success is when a significant number of regular attendees and members are actively engaged in personal evangelism. Evangelizing once per month or more often, I believe, qualifies as being actively engaged.
Based on this, I strongly recommend coming up with a goal related to how many people are regularly doing personal evangelism. Ten percent of members evangelizing at least one person each month is a good starting goal (cf. the “1X Method”).
This number is measurable, though doing so will require a little more effort than counting baptisms, attendance, or small group enrollment. However, unlike those three, the more people that are actively evangelizing, the more people are doing Christ’s work, and the more people will be saved based on biblical precedent (God always blessed faithful service with fruit).
More people in pews, on the roles, or being dunked does not necessarily mean more people are evangelizing in their daily lives. However, I believe that these three will increase as more and more members begin having Jesus conversations with others.
An effective churchwide evangelism strategy is intentional.
Intentionality is vital to a strategy’s success. One cannot implement a strategy, sit back, and see what happens. This approach inevitably leads to failure. Rather, the strategy must be intentionally implemented, followed, and continuously evaluated for areas of improvement.
Being intentional means doing something with a purpose. The number one, top dog, primary, highest priority mission of the church is to make disciples. The purpose of a church evangelism strategy is to make ever-maturing disciples more effectively and consistently.
Intentionality requires effort, dedication, and perseverance. An effective strategy requires intentionality.
An effective churchwide evangelism strategy emphasizes every-believer personal evangelism.
Many churches suffer from the evangelism delusion, thinking that they are evangelistic when, in fact, little to no actual evangelism is occurring. Individual Christians also suffer from this in their lives, as seen by the plethora of supposedly evangelistic memes on social media (what I can quasi-evangelism at best, pseudo-evangelism at worst).
It is quite common to find churches implement programs, committees, and other things as their evangelism strategy. Although each of these have their benefits and uses, none are a strategy. Rather, they are merely tools that can be used in the strategy.
An effective churchwide evangelism strategy must emphasize every-member personal evangelism. That means that it should accomplish two things: (1) it should motivate individuals to engage in regular personal evangelism in their daily lives, and (2) it should empower people to be evangelistic through mentoring and training.
Personal evangelism must be at the heart of any evangelism strategy, not a program, tradition, or fad. Programs, traditions, and fads come and go, but personal evangelism transcends each of them. Furthermore, over the long term people generally do not actively participate in programs. However, people can learn to become active evangelists in their individual lives.
An effective churchwide evangelism strategy incorporates all church activities.
Finally, an effective churchwide evangelism strategy must include each and every aspect of the church’s work. This includes, but is not limited to, fellowships, sermons, music, special events, small groups, social ministries, community outreaches, etc. Whatever the church does, the evangelism strategy must include that activity, ensuring that it is evangelistic.
When it comes to evaluating activities and adjusting them to be evangelistic, some leaders are hesitant. Some already think they are evangelistic enough (see above on the delusion). Others think their activity should not be evaluated because the church has always done it that way, or because that activity should be exempt. For whatever reason, there are leaders who wish not to have their activity evaluated and, if needed changed.
In order to be a gospel-centered church with an effective churchwide evangelism strategy, all areas of the church must be examined. Sometimes activities already are evangelistic. Others may need slight tweaking. Still others will require radical changes while some activities might need to be cancelled.
Regardless of the results of the analysis, all areas must be included because a churchwide evangelism strategy includes everything the church does. Everything in the worship service should be gospel-centered. Small groups should emphasize personal evangelism and the gospel. Church activities such as fellowships, outreach, and community service should be gospel-centered.
Synopsis and Final Thoughts
As stated above, there are four keys to having an effective churchwide evangelism strategy:
- It must have the right goals
- It must be intentional
- It must emphasize personal evangelism
- It must incorporate everything the church does
I’m sure there are other ways to ensure a strategy is effective. However, I believe that if these four are met, then whatever strategy the church develops, it will be gospel-centered and evangelistically effective.