Nine years ago, a local pastor visited his neighbor who was not a part of his church. This pastor stopped by his neighbor’s house almost every day and shared Jesus with him. The pastor’s neighbor was not a very good person. He was a drug addict, an alcoholic, and a horrible husband and father.
However, this pastor kept persisting, until one day this neighbor accepted Christ. The gospel of Christ completely changed him. Nine years later, this neighbor loves Jesus with all of his heart, and this neighbor is completely free from the bad things that controlled his life.
I know this story so well because this neighbor was me. This pastor brought me to Jesus! He kept reaching out past his church walls and sought to reach those in his community. It completely changed my life forever. And not only did I accept Christ, but my wife did, as well. Later, my oldest son accepted Christ, too.
Early on in ministry, I lost my focus on reaching people. The Lord reminded me five years ago that I need to go out do the same as the pastor who shared the gospel with me. I need to share Jesus with everyone who is not currently in the church. I need to do what my pastor did for me. I need to win people to Christ.
Since then, I have had the opportunity to lead over 1,500 people to Christ. Some of these people are in ministry now. Some of those people had their marriages healed. Some of these people were set free from drugs. Some of these people became missionaries. And some of these people now share their faith with everyone they encounter.
I believe that our purpose is to win people to Christ. Sadly, many churches do not do this.
Our church in Murrieta, California, is seeking to win people to Jesus on a daily basis. We do this in different ways. I want to share this with you so that your church can do the same and win as many people as possible to Christ.
1. Set higher standards for leadership.
We have raised the bar for leadership in our church by requiring every leader and every staff person to do four specific things: 1) Every leader must pray every single day, 2) they must be in the Word every single day, 3) they must live a holy life, and 4) every leader must be actively sharing their faith.
At every staff meeting and leadership meeting, we go around the table and answer as how we are doing at reaching people for Jesus. Since we have raised the standard in our church for leadership, it has naturally allowed us to focus on those outside of the church.
2. Offer evangelism training for the congregation.
When I was the pastor in Junction City, Kansas, someone left my church. They were upset and said something to me that I will never forget: “We are leaving your church because you care more about people outside the church than you do for people inside the church.”
While this is not true (I love people both inside and outside the church), it did strike a chord with me. While I was on fire for winning people to Christ, I needed to help my people catch the same fire.
At my current church, we often do evangelism trainings for our people. This has been done on a large scale as well as in smaller settings. Through these trainings, our hope is that people’s hearts would break for those who do not know Jesus. We also give our people practical tools for how to share their faith. These trainings have produced much fruit and more people coming to Jesus.
3. Remember that it starts with you.
While I teach evangelism trainings and I set high standards for leadership, I also know that it all begins with me. I place very high standards on my own life for sharing my faith. My hope is to win at least one person to Jesus each and every week.
I need to lead the charge in pushing outward. When there are victories for people coming to know Jesus, it gives me stories to share in my sermons to inspire my congregation. I want my people to know that I, as their pastor, am sharing my faith!
4. Plan corporate efforts.
We intentionally reach out to the world through many corporate efforts. We do outreach events in which we share the gospel, and we plant churches where our leaders are encouraged to reach new people. We model evangelism through our corporate efforts.
So many Christians and so many churches have no outward focus. Their focus is on writing good sermons and taking care of the people they already have. While these focuses are vitally important, we are missing the mark completely when we are not winning new people. I would challenge all churches and church leaders to reach out and populate heaven.
As Christians, we have the greatest message in all of history. Let’s take this message outside of our walls and allow it to change the world!
Kevin McDonald is the lead pastor at Gateway Church of the Nazarene in Murrieta, California, and a veteran church planter and speaker.