Those times can be adapted for established church pastors as well.
If you don’t purposely manage your time wisely—setting aside time to engage in evangelism—you may find yourself doing a lot of admin and ministry work.
When I planted a church in the ’90s, we sent a mass mailer marketing a marriage series. It said, “Got marriage problems? Come to our church.” And lo and behold, they did.
For the next six months it seemed like I became Dr. Phil in the life of broken couples. Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying: ministry to these couples was great; I just allowed ministry to take precedence over my responsibility to personally evangelize.
Remember: like many things, when it comes to evangelism you can’t lead what you don’t live.
3. Raise up leaders to oversee the church’s outward focus.
Not only should you continue to dangle mission in front of your people, and carve out time to personally engage in evangelism, but you also need to raise up a group of people in your church who will oversee the church’s outward focus. Create a structure that organizes the church in a way that propels it forward and helps keep it on course.
Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:11–12). In short, church oversight should be missional oversight to ensure that the church continues the work of ministry in making disciples of all nations.
I’ve been thinking through the role of the evangelist in the local church, a position specifically mentioned in Ephesians and elsewhere, and think that we need to see more evangelists at the local church level (see Rice Broocks on that subject).
The Evangelism Marathon
Keeping a church focused on evangelism is similar to running a marathon—and anyone wishing to start and finish well in planting and pastoring a church must have the ability to stay the course evangelistically. It’s been my experience that it’s easy for churches to become inwardly focused. My prayer is that planters and pastors will lead their churches to run the race of missional endurance as they stay the course of keeping themselves and their churches evangelistically focused.
I would love to hear from you on other ways churches can finish the marathon of evangelistic focus. Leave some thoughts in the comments.
Ed Stetzer holds the Billy Graham distinguished chair of church, mission and evangelism at Wheaton College and the Wheaton Grad School, where he also oversees the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism.