Evangelism is the responsibility of every believer. There is no such thing as the "gift of evangelism," rather, all Christians have the obligation to share the gospel.
It is, and should be, on the heart of every believer to look for opportunities to share. That's why we call people to lives of incarnational mission, showing and sharing the love of Jesus—personally—to a broken and lost world.
It does not mean, however, that you should not create special times within the body of your church for evangelism with some strategy. Churches can and should partner with Christians to create evangelistic opportunities.
This might include preaching through a special series intended for evangelism outreach.
Evangelistically Intended Sermon Series
Established churches can use special times to reinforce evangelism and outreach. At Grace Church, we preach about two-thirds of the time at our church through books of the Bible. We are strategic about the other third. For example, every year between Mother's Day and Father's Day, we do a family series to draw attention to an overwhelming need in our community—the need for strong families. It's a time when people bring their friends and is often a time when their friends hear the gospel for the first time. Since the key to a strong family is to be centered around Jesus, it's a natural time for evangelism.
In addition, every spring and every fall, we launch a four-to-six week evangelistic series of sermons. We intentionally lower the cookies down to the bottom shelf for a series of Scripture-based topical messages. The messages are focused on the everyday needs of people and how the Bible addresses them—topics range from stress, to faith, to relationships, etc.
This is a designated time when people are encouraged to bring their friends and family to church. We encourage them to reach out to (typically) seven people—we give them cards to write their names on, pray for them and reach out to them over the weeks leading up to the series.
We encourage our church members to bring people to church all year, but this is a special time. Why? We believe that people need times to help reengage in evangelistic intent.
Evangelism naturally wanes. Churches need to help people reengage.
Special Days and Holidays
Churches can use Easter, Christmas, Mother's Day, Grandparent's Day and Super Bowl Sunday, among others as designated times when you have an evangelistic message and service. You must let people know this is the intent and then let them know how they can use these special times and civic holidays to invite unbelievers to attend.
LifeWay Research has repeatedly found the unchurched are open to church invites during holidays. They are thinking more about spiritual matters around those seasons and many would welcome an invitation. Take advantage of the openness to make a special emphasis during those times.
Connecting Small Group for Evangelism Emphases
While much of this is related to the church as a whole, small groups can be especially successful in their outreach attempts and evangelistic emphases. As mentioned before, every fall and spring we create a teaching series about some topic that's going to relate well to both believers and unbelievers.
We design a strategy in our groups for members to begin to pray three months prior to the series to identify five people they would like to reach. We design intentional opportunities for members to share the gospel in the context of the small group and at church. The important thing is that the church gatherings and the small groups work together to make a special push to reach out to unbelievers.
We invest significant energy in this strategy to get widespread involvement. Every person who attends our church gets a phone call from either a group leader or a staff person to remind him or her that we are launching a new series at church and to encourage them to bring friends.
Our leaders ask them if they have started praying for seven unchurched people. If they have, we ask them what they think the Lord is doing in those relationships.
The week prior to the start of the series, they get another phone call, where we pray with them about their friends. The results from this effort are always encouraging because the whole church is mobilized.
By All Possible Means
We see the results of this regularly—every fall or spring we see new people beginning to attend and eventually trust Christ. We've found the church is energized by our unified times of evangelism and outreach. We see the results during the series and outreach times, but also for the months that follow.
The apostle Paul said, "I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some. Now I do all this because of the gospel, so I may become a partner in its benefits" (1 Cor. 9:22-23).
Help your congregation engage in evangelism by partnering with them in special days and times. Lead the flock to take advantage of times for evangelism in order that the gospel might take root in your church and community.
In helping them to evangelize in special times, you are preparing them to do so all the time.
Ed Stetzer is the president of LifeWay Research. For the original article, visit edstetzer.com.
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