In the last edition I talked about three core activities of highly effective churches – outreach, nurture and equip. I referred to this as the ONE programme. Over the next three issues I want to unpack each core activity of the programme so leaders can, with better understanding, begin to build them into their congregation’s life and ministry. The first core activity is . . .
This is the leading edge of what highly effective churches do, and should be embraced with enthusiasm. Many people in churches are overwhelmed with apprehension at the thought of evangelism. This fear is based on preconceived ideas of what evangelism entails, and what they see gifted evangelists doing. People think they could never do the stuff that evangelists do: ‘I can’t preach; I’m not a confident speaker; I don’t have the charisma to go out and confront people; I’m much too shy; I don’t know how to share the Gospel message.’ I could go on to cite many more such thoughts.
Let’s face it, few are called and gifted to be evangelists. However, we’re all called to be disciples and disciples are commanded to ‘make disciples.’ The first step in the process of ‘making disciples’ is to share with others the Good News about Yahshua. So, every member of your fellowship must recognise their responsibility to seek to connect with lost people in order that they might find Yahshua.
It’s precisely because members are not all evangelists that they need to be trained in the art of sharing the Gospel. Knowing what you have is one thing; sharing it convincingly with others is quite another. Leaders must source training for their members that will give them the confidence to go out and share the news that Yahweh wants all people to be saved.
About a month ago we held a national evangelism training conference in Nottingham attended by scores of people who wanted to be better equipped to share their faith. The event was facilitated by Trevor Dickerson, a wonderful evangelist from Outreach UK. From the training people understood what the Gospel message is, how it impacted their own lives, why they need to share it, and how they could witness in a way that suits their personality. People left the weekend sessions enthusiastic and more confident about sharing their faith.
Training should NOT be a one-off event! As a leader you must consistently and regularly support members by providing ongoing training and resource material (and of course how to use those materials) to engage people with the Good News. When members are properly trained evangelism will be less daunting and they will become more competent in outreach work.
Perhaps the most impactful part of any training in this area that members will have is seeing their leaders demonstrating what they are calling them to do. Yahshua, calling His first disciples said to them, “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” Yahshua showed His disciples by His own life how they could catch people and bring them into the kingdom of Yahweh.
Training is necessary but that’s only part of the job of getting people fully involved in sharing the Good News with others. Our members must have opportunities to put into practice what they may have learnt through classes and workshops. Opportunities to witness to someone present themselves daily – it’s for us to recognise them. They are easily missed because we’re not looking! We must have our spiritual eyes open at all times. The Holy Spirit wants to work with us in our efforts to win people. He does this through promptings – we must be alert to them. He will often open up situations in which you have an opportunity to begin a spiritual conversation with an individual or to begin a friendship which ultimately gives you the chance to share your faith.
Leaders should also be active in directing members into outreach activities. Again, this is what Yahshua frequently did, and it was all part of enabling His disciples to gain experience in ‘fishing for people.’ After a short period of training we see Him in Matthew 10 sending out the twelve disciples on an outreach campaign. He instructs them as to the purpose, the area they’re to go and what they’re to do. In the same way I’m convinced leaders ought to send out and direct teams of people to reach out into communities with the Gospel message.
The saying, ‘Practice makes perfect’ is often used to encourage people to practise if they want to be good at something – e.g., if you want to be a great pianist you’ve not only got to learn the rudiments of music but you’ve got to practise playing the piano. Let me introduce you to another saying: ‘Practice makes permanent.’ A person who has been taught the skills of gardening will only become a gardener if he continues to practise those skills. He won’t ever lose those skills – they become permanent. As we embrace the commission of Yahshua and consistently practise reaching out to the lost we will become more skilled and more effective soul winners.
Sharing the Gospel, evangelism, outreach – call it what you like – should be part of my lifestyle; it should be a way of life for the church. And this means thinking, praying and doing evangelism every day! In the same way that we wake, eat, drink, work, play, and sleep every day as part of the rhythm of life outreach should be part of the disciple’s daily life cycle. To arrive at this point we must PRACTISE!
Highly effective churches enthusiastically embrace evangelism and relentlessly practise it, personally and corporately. It’s part of their DNA. I challenge you, from now, to build this part of the ONE programme into the heart and soul of your fellowship.
Every Christian is a postmaster for Yahweh. His duty is to pass out good news from above (VANCE HAVNER)
If the church does not evangelise it will fossilise (A.W.PINK)
Our Master’s first obedience was to the will of his Father, not to the needs of men; the saving of men was the natural outcome of his obedience to the Father (OSWALD CHAMBERS)
Evangelism is the perpetual task of the whole church, and not the peculiar hobby of certain members (E.WILSON CARLISLE)
1 Peter 3:15 - Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.
Acts 20:24 -I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the [Master Yahshua] has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of [Yahweh’s] grace.
Father, I come to You for help. I recognise our responsibility to reach lost people and I would like you to show me how I, together with fellow leaders, can successfully build into our fellowship the core activity of outreach so that it becomes a lifestyle.