By Ernest L. Easley
Evangelism Professor, Union University, Jackson
Having served as a lead pastor for more than 30 years, I understand that frustration. I sometimes struggled to have any energy or drive left for evangelism after seemingly giving it all toward shepherding the flock.
So how do busy pastors and church leaders keep evangelism a priority with all the challenges and distractions? I have found these four ways helpful:
Priority. Sharing the gospel must be a priority in your life. Jesus said in Luke 19:10, “the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost,” and then in Matthew 4:19, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
As we follow Him, we will fish for men. Men can fish without following Him, but Christians cannot follow Him without fishing. I recently saw a man wearing a T-shirt that said, “The best way to catch fish is to fish where they are.” Following Jesus increases our sensitivity and desire to go where the fish are, so that we might see them caught, so to speak, for the glories of new birth.
I have found that the closer I walk with Jesus, the more like Jesus I become and that includes witnessing. When evangelism is a priority in your life, that will transfer into the lives of your members.
Practice. Sharing Jesus should become a part of your lifestyle. That’s what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 28:19 when He said, “Go therefore and make disciples.” We must be sharing Jesus as we go.
One day I was having lunch alone and, as is my practice, I prayed with the server and later shared the gospel with her. I didn’t think much about it until Sunday during our deacons meeting. One of our deacons stood and shared how he saw me having lunch alone that day and admitted that he was watching to see if I really did that. After sharing with them what he saw, he said, “I’m glad that Ernest is our pastor. He practices what he preaches.” That will go a long way in keeping evangelism a high priority while being pulled in different directions.
Planning. Evangelism should be on the church calendar if it’s going to be a priority in the life of the church. If it’s not on the calendar, it probably will not happen. We calendar what we prioritize. What does your church calendar say about the importance of evangelism?
Included in your church calendar should be periodic witness training opportunities. This could be one night, one morning, two days, one weekend or more to continue fanning the flame of evangelism and for the equipping of your leadership, membership, and new believers in evangelism.
Evangelism should be budgeted. The church budget should reflect a priority for evangelism. What is your church budget saying to the membership about the priority of evangelism?
Promotion. Keep evangelism in front of your membership. That can be accomplished through witnessing testimonies during worship gatherings, during baptisms as their story is told how they came to know Jesus, Backyard Bible Clubs, block parties, missions trip reports, and more.
Promoting evangelism shows it’s a priority of the church and encourages the members to get involved with sharing Jesus. Promoting evangelism also lets guests know that if they join your church, they are joining a church that is committed to sharing the gospel.