I’m looking forward to our annual meeting in a few weeks. We have powerful speakers, great breakout sessions, and more planned for our time together. I’m glad the meeting is called Refresh. The name reminds us that we should come together expecting God to move in our midst and refresh us by His Spirit and through our fellowship together. We should expect to leave the meeting ready to take on the world with gospel of Jesus Christ.
Of course, it will take more than a couple days of meetings to achieve that once we get back home. It will also take churches that are motivated and equipped to reach the lost for Jesus. The question each church must answer is whether or not it is.
It’s not a hard thing to know. Churches that effectively reach the lost generally share certain characteristics. You can know if your church is ready to penetrate the spiritual lostness around it by asking if it shares these characteristics.
Recently, Nathan Lorick, former Director of Evangelism for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, listed these characteristics. Here’s what he says are the five characteristics of evangelistic churches.
1. The Pastor Leads the Charge
This is without a doubt the most important aspect of a church becoming highly effective in their evangelism efforts. The pastor must be the one who is blowing the trumpet of intentional evangelism. It is said that the church will take on the personality of the pastor. If this is true, an evangelistic pastor will lead to an evangelistic church. We need pastors to stand up and lead the charge by modeling evangelism and clearly communicating the commands to do evangelism in the Scriptures. If the pastor will lead the way, the church will follow!
2. The Church Knows Its Community
It cannot be emphasized enough that a church that knows its community the best will have a better chance of reaching its community for Jesus. Churches that have an understanding of the layout of its community and who is in its community can then develop strategies to engage them with the gospel of Christ. When a church knows its community it can begin looking at its community through the lenses of the Great Commission and lead its people to be missionaries in the city. At some point, God planted your church in your community to know and love the people in which he planted you. As you know them, you can build the bridges to share the good news of Jesus Christ with them.
3. The People are Equipped
One of the greatest hindrances to churches becoming highly evangelistic is the assumption that they know how to share their faith. We must never assume that any believer knows how to clearly articulate the gospel. A common belief is that 95 percent of Christ-followers never share Jesus with anyone. I would submit this would likely be the result due to the lack of equipping believers on how to share the gospel. Churches that are highly evangelistic are very intentional in equipping their people to share Jesus. There are many different tools that are available to churches to quip their people. However, a tool is not effective if left in the tool box. Churches that equip their people to share the gospel are equipping their people to reach their community.
4. The Church Has a Desire to Win Its Community to Jesus
In order for a church to reach its community for Christ, it must desire to win its community to Christ. In many churches today, the mentality is so inwardly focused that they do not know what to do to reach their communities. If we are going to see floodgates of revival open across our cities and communities, it must begin with a desire to see our friends and neighbors saved. The apostle Paul tells us of his heart in Romans 10:1 when he declares, “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.” Paul clearly communicates that his heart desires for his people to be saved. As churches, our heart must beat for the lost to come to Jesus! The absence of our desire for people to know Jesus is the presence of our desire for them to go to hell. When churches develop a heart and desire for their communities to know Jesus, you will begin to see many communities transformed by the power of Christ!
(I would that I think this characteristic requires a love for people. A church that reaches lost people does so because the members have a genuine love for people. They don’t witness because it’s their duty or because they feel sorry for lost people. They witness because they love lost people and want to see them know the God they have come to know and love. They let lost people into their hearts.)
5. Evangelism is Consistently Highlighted Before the Church
One of the greatest things a pastor can do for his church is to consistently highlight how God is using the church to reach people with the gospel. Oftentimes we show videos of missionaries in a far-away land doing an exceptional work for the Lord. However, if you want a church to get fired up about the gospel, have people in the church highlight for the church the different experiences of sharing the gospel that week. I am convinced that there is nothing that will change the culture of a church like evangelism will. When people in the church constantly hear stories of the gospel being shared and people coming to Jesus, it will begin to sink in their minds and hearts that they, too, can be used greatly by God. A church that is excited about evangelism is a church that spends a lot of time highlighting evangelism.
(Reprinted from Reach, 2017)
So, how does your church compare? Do you have some things to work on? You shouldn’t be discouraged if you do. Very few churches exhibit all five characteristics flawlessly. The important question to ask is if your church is moving in the direction of these characteristics. The MTSBC will be focusing on assisting our churches to develop these characteristics in the coming years.
One thing we are going to do is provide an opportunity every time we meet for Mpact and Refresh for people to learn how to share their faith effectively. That will begin at the upcoming Refresh. On October 5, one of the breakouts we will be offering will provide a refresher on witnessing and an introduction to some of the recent effective witness training tools that are available. We want each person to know how to share his or her faith effectively and we want each church to know what tools there are to teach their members to witness.
The most important work we can do is win lost people to Jesus. It’s not the only thing, but it is the most important. Not only is it the most important, but it is also one of the few things we can do that will change people’s lives now and for all eternity. May the Lord help us all to be winners of souls. I look forward to seeing you at Refresh.