by Kel Willis
Interact Magazine 1998
Volume 9 Number 3
A friend of mine was speaking at a special outreach dinner. The minister was lamenting the fact there were no unchurched people present. ‘I don’t seem to be able to motivate the men in this church to bring their friends and neighbours,’ he said. When my friend asked him which of those present were his own friends and neighbours, the minister was very embarrassed and had to admit that in fact he had not invited anyone to the dinner!
One of the primary principles of effective leadership is modelling. Leaders who don’t demonstrate in their own lives the things they teach and demand of others will not in the long run significantly impact them. Perhaps one reason for the apparent lack of motivation to share the gospel with others is that we—the leaders of our churches—are not ourselves demonstrating an active concern for the lost. Therefore we cannot speak out of our own experience, and consequently lack authority when we seek to encourage others to evangelise.
It is clearly God’s will that we as Christians should continue to grow and mature spiritually. It is equally true that what God is doing within us overflows to touch the lives of those around us. Indeed it’s very hard to imagine having a growing relationship with Him that doesn’t motivate us to want to share the gospel with others. This was Paul’s experience in Galatians 1:15,16 and Peter’s emphasis in 1 Peter 2:9: ‘You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood … that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.’
Every growing church that I know of is committed to consistently teaching the Bible in all its programs. People are taught and encouraged to know a daily relational walk with God so that He increasingly becomes the centre of their lives. Since ‘faith (in an ongoing sense) comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word of Christ’ (Rom. 10:17) a commitment to teach the Bible consistently and consecutively is imperative to the growth of a church. Put simply, vital growing churches have vital growing Christians who consistently respond to a growing understanding of the gospel. Without this kind of growth there will be very little ongoing motivation to evangelise.
The effectiveness of personal evangelism is enhanced by what happens in the life of the whole church. Do new people feel welcome when they come into your church? I recently read a survey that said new people coming to a church are looking for acceptance and relevance. Friendly churches help people to relax. We need to choose warm and friendly people to greet folk at the door. I frequently go to churches where I’m not known and find myself left to ‘sink or swim’ until someone realises that I’m the visiting speaker!
Equipping for Evangelism
Most Christians want to share their faith with others. Indeed, many attempt to do so but don’t have the ability to do it well. Many Christians are unsure of their foundational beliefs so can’t explain them, some don’t know how to start a conversation about spiritual things, others don’t know how to bring such a conversation to a meaningful conclusion, and so on.
I’m constantly surprised to find there are very few regular church attendees who feel free to bring their non-Christian contacts with them. The reason? They are unsure if their friends will feel comfortable or positive about the experience of being there. We need specific activities that will help us introduce new people to our church with confidence.
Churches need to be proactive in discovering why their people are inhibited in reaching others for Christ and in providing the resources to encourage active evangelism. This edition of Interact seeks to explore methods that have been successful in encouraging Christians to share their faith. Why not introduce them to your church or get somebody already using them effectively to run a seminar for your members. Ask an evangelist like Shaun Potts (see his article in this edition) to come to your church for a weekend. In future editions we will explore other programs and strategies that have proved to be effective.
I have personally found the Jesus video to be a simple but effective approach. Whenever I have a responsive contact I leave the video with them and make a time to come back to collect it, at which time I simply engage the person about Jesus: ‘What did you think of the portrayal of Jesus? What do you think of His claims?’ I then try to leave some literature that I think will continue to engage them. One of the best is a little booklet called Ultimate Questions by John Blanchard. I endeavour to keep the contact going through a dinner, breakfast or even just a coffee, and trust the Holy Spirit to do His own work.
We as individuals need to think through what method of evangelism best suits us and commit ourselves to being a part of God’s strategy for reaching the lost.
Rev Kel Willis is the Director of Christian Growth Ministries Inc.
© Kel Willis (1 July 1998)