Many congregations offer little opportunity to use their evangelistically minded people. It was Lifeway or Rainer who said roughly 2% of church goers are actively inviting people. Since studying with someone can be even more intimidating than inviting them, I would guess the % of people studying with a non-Christian is even smaller. It is no wonder that many congregations are getting weaker by the year.
How much higher would that number would go if we offered more visible paths for people who have a gift for evangelism? More than 2% of the typical congregation has a gift or passion for evangelism. Mike Breen believes that the pioneers types in the church makes up roughly 30% of Christians. So what happened to the 28% who may have the gift but aren’t doing anything about it? They just don’t know what to do with their gift. They have probably never been publically encouraged to use it. You get more recognition for leading a prayer than leading a Bible study. Something is out of whack. We need to start embracing a few things to get these guys moving and using their God-given gifts:
- Congregational prayer life that reflects more than physical healing…start praying for the lost publically and consistently.
- Celebrate when people are reached and encouraging those who took part in the process.
- Visibly value and pursue the commission in meaningful and consistent ways
- Make the path forward toward outreach so obvious that no one in the church can miss it
- Develop people – Train, train, train…there are things we can teach that will make our people more effective at reaching out. Some have the gift and passion but don’t know where to start.
- Give them material so they don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time they study with someone. This also helps them with where to start (like Jesus 101).
- They need models to inspire them, lead them, and show them what evangelism looks like.
As Alan Hirsch and Eric Brown have pointed out…one of our big imbalances is that often those who are most visible (ministers and elders) have more of a passion for teaching and preaching than they do proclaiming the good news to the lost. Mike Breen calls teachers & pastors the “Developers” and says they make up the other 70% of the congregation. The theory is that the reason we have few evangelists in pulpits is because being in the pulpit often requires years of graduate work that is not as attractive to the guys with a passion for evangelism as it is the guys who have a passion for teaching, preaching and pastoring. The evangelist would rather spend those four years with people rather than by sitting in a quiet corner with a pile of books. So people in the pew lack a model for evangelism and don’t hear as much passion for it because of the bent of the preacher and Bible class teachers.
This needs to be addressed…We need to be giving the evangelists a voice. When the congregation sees and hears that it will encourage more people to take on the pursuit of reaching the lost.