And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth.
– Jesus, The Acts of the Apostles
Jesus sent the disciples out into the world with the Great Commission (Matthew 28): Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…
Evangelism means sharing the Good News. Ask a room full of people to break into twos and talk about their favorite restaurant. The room comes alive as people speak of the places’ atmospheres, tastes, and smells that they love. The room will come alive, as people smile, laugh, and gesture with their hands.
When you have experienced something that you love, something that touches your heart, you just want to share it. Congregations that are effective at evangelism invite people to consider their life-changing experiences with God and encourage them to share them. This is equipping people for one-on-one personal evangelism.
But evangelism and witness is done as a team in the church. Most people do not go from being religious to fully committed followers of Christ after one conversation. Evangelism is a process.
Congregations that are effective at evangelism have a system for welcoming people, inviting them into a spiritual journey, incorporating them into a faith community, and sending them out into the world to serve with joy according to their gifts. This work takes a team that is inviting, inspiring, including, and involving.
Encourage your leaders to consider these questions:
- Who lives within 1-2-mile radius around our area?
- What are their needs and life situations?
- How can we become more sensitized to their realities?
- Have we done intentional listening within the community?
- How are we as many people part of what God is doing in the world?
- How do they know they are welcome here?
- Are our property and facility welcoming?
- Are our members inviting people?
- How are we helping our people learn to talk about their faith?
- Are we doing things to which our people would feel comfortable inviting their friends?
- How are we seeding small groups that are welcoming to newcomers?
- Are we going out into the community to serve with the love of Christ?
- When we do special events and special services, how do those who live around us know when they are and that they are welcome?
- What are we doing out in the community?
- When people come visit worship, programs, or groups, do they receive a warm welcome?
- Is parking easy to navigate?
- Are doors unlocked?
- Is there someone to greet at every door?
- Is there adequate signage?
- Are childcare or Sunday school well-staffed and easy to locate?
- Are there refreshments?
- Is the music inviting?
- Are visitors greeted warmly multiple times?
- Is the message understandable and engaging?
- Do visitors hear the good news?
- Is there an invitation to return?
- Consider having your leadership team read Unwelcome: 50 Ways Churches Drive Away First-Time Visitors.
- Are there multiple ways that the names and contact information of first time and repeat visitors is collected? (Cards, pads, guest books, greeters’ contacts, information off checks, etc.)
- Does someone contact the visitors to thank them for coming, listen to their story, and invite them to return next Sunday?
- Are there multiple invitations for deeper engagement? (Small groups, choirs, service teams, Bible studies, new member classes, etc.)
- Is there a team making an intentional effort to include newcomers?
- Is this well communicated?
- When people begin participating regularly in any aspect of the community, are there continued invitations to deeper engagement?
- Do new member classes engage people about the basics of the Christian faith?
- Are spiritual practices being taught (like prayer, worship, generosity, hospitality, service, etc.)?
- Are there efforts to connect people’s gifts with various kinds of service?
- Are people being invited into deeper generosity?
- Are service opportunities readily available?
- Are people engaged around their deepest sense of calling?
Inviting people into following Jesus is a team sport. It isn’t the job of the pastor or the evangelism committee but a holy calling shared by all. It is more about leadership and congregational culture than it is about techniques and marketing. It is work that happens in the world as much as it influences what we do within our congregations.