Jeremy Stout Pastor Bible Baptist Church Marysville, Ohio
As a church planter in 2007, I thought that evangelism would be the last thing I would need to worry about getting accomplished. Knowing my past experience and also realizing the only way people would come to a new church would be if they were invited, I knew evangelism would be vital. Very quickly, I learned how important it would have to be to schedule and make evangelism times a priority or else it would never get done. Dedicated time for evangelism can get lost in the shuffle of everyday ministry.
I remember there was a month early on in our new church plant when I looked back and thought, “Wow, I haven’t led anybody to Christ because I haven’t talked to anybody specifically about getting saved!” The Word of God (Matthew 4:18) convicted me that if I were really a disciple following Jesus, it would be measured by me fishing for men!!
So, in our church calendar, I began to set aside scheduled times to evangelize and reach out for souls. A dedicated time to reach out in evangelistic activities keeps me focused on fulfilling the byproduct of following Jesus.
So how do we as pastors create and continue a culture of evangelism?
I think that we must first example it. There needs to be stories shared and testimonies given from the pulpit of recent evangelism experiences in our own lives. In 1 Peter 5:2-3, the Bible gives preachers the responsibility of being “ensamples.” An ensample has in its description like a die that is cast and every time it hits the same product is produced. I think we as pastors are not only to have had experiences of personal evangelism and winning people to Christ in the past, but we are to continually have examples of personal evangelism and leading people to Christ. If we are not actively witnessing and winning people to Christ how could we expect our congregation to take that responsibility on?
Secondly, we need to express evangelism to our congregations. When we hear of church members leading someone to Christ, we need to make sure that we make as big a deal about it as heaven already has! Celebrate it in our bulletins and in our testimony time, not for man’s glory but for the motivation of others to take part in the same.
Thirdly we must expect a culture of evangelism. God is the One responsible for the increase of any evangelistic efforts, so surely it is His will and desire that people would come to repentance and receive eternal life. If we will stay committed to planting the seeds of fishing for men, then we should expect that God will do what He does as a faithful God in the results of our efforts.
Once our church got in the habit of seeing people evangelize and hearing about people getting saved through evangelism, the momentum led to more and more getting involved with the efforts as well.