By Thom Rainer
The topic of evangelism has grown strangely quiet in many churches. Pastors are not talking about it. Other church leaders aren’t talking about it. Members aren’t talking about it.
And if we aren’t talking about evangelism, you can be assured many of us aren’t doing evangelism.
There are likely many explanations for the death of evangelism in our churches. Among them is the stark reality that many of our church leaders, pastors and others, are not intentionally evangelistic.
Why is that?
Though it is not an excuse, we must acknowledge that the pastors and other church leaders pay a high cost when they become intentionally evangelistic. Sometimes it just seems easier to keep our mouths shut about the gospel. Look at these costs to being an evangelistic leader in a local church.
- It is spiritual warfare. Satan and his demonic horde do not want people to know the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though the manifestations of demonic opposition are many, you can be assured the evangelistic leader will confront such opposition again and again.
- You will be viewed as narrowed minded. John 14:6 does not sit well with culture. Though Jesus Himself said He was the only way, truth, and life, leaders will be rejected and opposed for such “narrow-minded” thinking.
- Something else must be sacrificed when you are an evangelistic leader. Your time is limited. You have sermons to prepare. You have hospital visits to make. You have counseling appointments. You have way too many meetings. And hardly a day goes by without a new and unexpected crisis arising. You must sacrifice something else to take time to share the gospel with others.
- Some of your members will complain. You have some church members who will complain about anything that does not serve them personally. It may be headed under the passive-aggressive guise of “I’m not being fed,” but you can be assured some of your members will oppose your leadership in evangelism.
- New converts will be seen as threats or inconveniences in your church. True story. In one of the churches I served as pastor, a lady tried to get me fired because the “new people” were “messing up our church.” New Christians are needy. Some longer-term members don’t like to give up their comforts for others.
- Discussing theology is easier than doing theology. I wish we spent an equal amount of time sharing the gospel as we do talking and debating theology. Yes, we need to take bold stands for the truth. But we don’t need just to stand there; we need to do and go.
- You will have to break out of your holy huddles. It’s more comfortable hanging out with people who are like us and who believe like we do. But you will not have that luxury if you become an intentional evangelistic leader in your church. You will discover new relationships with non-Christians, which means you can’t spend all your time with Christians.
There is a cost to being an evangelistic leader in your church.
But the benefits are far greater.
They last through eternity.
Thom Rainer serves as the President of Lifeway Christian Resources. This blog post first appeared at ThomRainer.com.