February 2017

Why aren’t we more evangelistic?


In his weekly blog, Thom Rainer discussed his thoughts about the “Ten Reasons Why Many Churches Aren’t Evangelistic”. In his somewhat subjective list (and in his American context) he gave the following reasons. I offer them, slightly edited, for discussion and even debate - perhaps over a cuppa after church next Sunday……

1. We don’t really believe people need Jesus. Unless church members and leaders really believe in the lostness of humanity without Christ, they will not be evangelistic. John 14:6 is a clear biblical statement on the exclusivity of Christ for salvation. Too many leaders and members only give lip service to it.
2. Evangelism is spiritual warfare. Life is easier without being evangelistic. Spiritual warfare is tough. Sometimes it seems to be easier to go AWOL from the battle than to fight in the trenches.
3. It’s hard work. From time to time someone will ask me, “What is the easiest way to get our church to do evangelism?” The answer is “none of the above.” Too many churches have become self-serving country clubs rather than obedient and sacrificial vessels of God.
4. Evangelism requires intentionality. God did not say, “Share the gospel as you stay where you are.” He said, “Go” (Matthew 28:19). When you “go,” you have to know where you are going. That requires intentionality.
5. Effective evangelism often requires we pray for the opportunities. Consider this challenge. Begin each day with a prayer that God will bring people in your path (or help you to see them) where you can be a gospel witness in word and deed. I have been amazed (though I shouldn’t be) how God has answered that prayer in my own life.
6. Too many people have too many excuses. One church member told me the entire county where he lives was fully churched. In fact, he said there are too many churches. There are, he said, no gospel opportunities. I then showed him demographics that showed his county was 62% unchurched. His response? “I don’t believe that.”
7. Too many churches are too busy to do evangelism. If your church has so many activities, meetings, and programs that your members never have time to develop relationships and share the gospel, your church is too busy. Some times Satan’s most powerful tool is to get us doing good things to the neglect of the best thing.
8. Church leaders are not evangelistic. If the pastor, staff, elders, and teachers are not evangelistic, it is unlikely the church will be evangelistic. The church members will follow that example.
9. Many churches don’t know their field or ministry area. Jesus said, “the harvest is abundant, but the workers are few” (Matthew 9:37). So where is the harvest field? Too many churches neglect their community because they are really ignorant of who is there and what their needs are.
10. Evangelism is counter-cultural. If you want to be a people pleaser, don’t be evangelistic. Culture hates the gospel that says there is only one way of salvation. But if you want to be a God-pleaser, share the gospel. You may die doing it, but what an honour to pay such a price!

I don’t know if I agree with every point he makes, and sometimes I would want to make his point with (very) different language. But even so, it makes me wonder if somehow along the line, we have put the ‘E word’ in the too hard basket of church life. As we move into 2017, may God transform our apathy and give us confidence in “Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of [our] faith.” (Heb 12:2)


February 2017