I want to pastor a church that sees a flood of people become Christians and be sent out to plant churches through out Sydney, Australia and the world. Therefore, I want to be part of, and lead, a church that is on the evangelistic front foot. Now I think we have made strides to being that church but I still think we have a long way to go. When I look back on our very short history I don’t see a church that has always been on the evangelistic front foot so I need to what has held us back? What holds your church back from being evangelically on the front foot?
Reflecting on Resolved’s history the times that we have been most evangelsitically dead is when there was significant conflict in the church and/or in the leadership of the church. Now conflict is unavoidable when you get people together who really care and are passionate about something. But there is a type of conflict that just drains you as a leader and consumes your thoughts and your energy. As leaders we need to deal with this kind of conflict quickly so that we can get on withe job of leading churches that are evangelistically on the front foot.
2. Leadership Lacking in Evangelistic Zeal
There were times that the leadership at Resolved lacked evangelsitic zeal. This lack in the leadership started with me. Sometimes I had family issues going on, sometimes it was tensions at church, sometimes it was fatigue other times it was just because I had lost the vision of the gospel and the mission of the church wasn’t central. But whatever was going on I had lost my evangelistic zeal. How did I get it back? It is not brain surgery. It was through reading the Bible so that I would see and be reminded of the fate of people without Jesus. It was praying for more evangelistic opportunities and praying for my friends that they would know Jesus. Finally it was reading books on evangelism so I would be inspired and equipped to evangelise. If you are lacking in evangelistic zeal what are you going to do to get that fire back?
3. Lack of Vision
It is very hard to lose sight of why you got into pastoral ministry. I know I have lost sight of the vision for my ministry I once had. The scary thing is that when I lose the vision of seeing people come to know Jesus I don’t communicate this vision to my church and therefore that church I lead won’t have a vision or it will have a deficient vision. If the church loses an evangelistic vision then we wont as a church evangelise. As leaders, we need a vision that captivates our hearts and motivates us. We need a vision that we want to tell everyone so that we will repeat it over and over again to our people. We need a vision that has evangelism at it’s core.
4. Lack of Evangelistic Strategy
It’s easy to have an evangelistic vision but if you don’t know what you are going to do your vision quickly becomes an irrelevant slogan. The mistake I made as a leader is not having a concrete evangelistic strategy that we could easily enact. Another problem I have found with strategic thinking is that we critique it to death before implementing it. We should all heed the oft quoted slogan that an average strategy executed well beats a perfect strategy poorly executed every time. . A simple evangelistic strategy might be something like this
Step 1: Training to Tell the gospel and invite their friends to church/ evangelistic events
Step 2: Putting on relaxed events that are easy to invite friends to (e.g. a wine and cheese night or music night ) where someone explains the gospel simply
Step 3: Putting on an evangelistic course where the gospel is explained in greater depth and questions can be asked and answered
Step 4: Baptism and integration of new christians
Step 5; Repeat
5. Lack of Execution
It is great to have a strategy but if we don’t do what we plan our planning is done in vain. We need to lead our people to execute our plans and then tweak them and execute then do all this again and again. This requires hard work on our part.
6. Lack of realism
One of the downfalls of the Millennial generation, (which I call myself a part of) is that we expect great success straight away with very little effort and if we don’t get this success straight away we are downcast and a lot of the time we give up and we look for the next thing that we can do. As leaders, we need to lower expectations significantly. We need to talk in months and years for things to happen and not days and weeks so that our people will expect a long, hard, prayer filled, joyous evangelistic ministry. Also we need to communicate lower attendance expectation at our events. For example, at Resolved, we are running an evangelistic course we are calling Introducing Jesus. I talked to all the people from our church who were coming and asked them to invite some people and then I told them I going to be happy if we get one seeker who comes along and if we get three I am going to be over the moon! When we had six seekers come on our first night we were all ecstatic! But what if I said we are going to get ten people to come to these event well then getting only six people would seem like a failure. We need to be realistic about the hard work that is required for our churches to be evangelsitically on the front foot. If we don’t despair will set in and we will not do evangelism.
7. Lack of Prayer
I don’t know how he does it but God works through prayer. I am convinced that if we don’t pray we shouldn’t expect great things. But if we do pray then it seems reasonable that God would work in our midst.
What is the bottom line?
The bottom line is leadership. If we want to be leaders of churches that are evangelistically on the front foot we need to be healthy, prayerful leaders who have a great vision and are able to plan and execute an evangelistic strategy. If the church or ministry you are leading is not evangelistically on the front foot my experience is that we need to take a long hard look in the mirror and ask hard questions of ourselves as to why we are not leading the kind of ministry that we want to lead.