Thanks to LifeWay Research, we now have data indicating the church’s evangelistic temperature. Apparently, 61 percent of churchgoers have not shared their Christian faith within the last six months. For a movement that defines itself by the activity of gospel proclamation (Evangelicalism, that is), this is rather alarming news.
After eight years as pastor of evangelism and church planting at College Church in Wheaton, I find the LifeWay numbers ring true. Our congregations are comprised of men and women who affirm the urgency of evangelism; the problem, however, is moving from theory to action. To be sure, there are many whose lives are given to the task of outreach with remarkable fidelity and innovation. But if our report card was based upon the effectiveness with which we are equipping and mobilizing the overall church, I fear that we might be failing.
Let’s be clear, the enterprise of evangelism should not be measured by outcomes. Salvation is of the Lord. Our role, as church leaders, is to equip and mobilize God’s people to be salt of the earth. In this task, there are a variety of resources, programs, and methods from which we benefit (indeed, it’s a sizable industry; see Outreach Magazine for example). Valuable as many of these aids can be, the LifeWay research calls into question just how much of a difference they are actually making. But there is hope.
In my humble opinion, the first and most promising step that we can take to elevate our evangelistic temperature is honest self-evaluation. Toward this end, following are three assessment tools that I have used among pastors to evaluate the quality and quantity of evangelism happening in their congregation. If members of a pastoral staff and elder council would simply carve out twenty minutes to discuss these questions, perhaps it would lead to additional conversation, a recognition of shortcomings, and eventually to improvement.
I. BASIC EVALUATION
Evangelistic temperature (explicit communication about evangelism) of:
SMALL GROUPS _____
II. ANNUAL GOALS
Equipping the Church to:
Articulate the gospel message
Communicate one’s conversion testimony
Identify needs in the community
Serve needs in the community
Engender enthusiasm for evangelism
Investing Ourselves in:
Inviting to Church
Gathering with Neighbors