By Dr. Hal Seed
New Song Community Church, Oceanside CA
Your church can be used by God to lead people into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
It doesn’t happen by accident, though. All of heaven is cheering for the evangelistic fervor and effectiveness of your church, but your actions make a difference.
After twenty-five years of experience I can say that reaching people for Christ doesn’t require an evangelism gift and isn’t about flashy tech. God honors your personal commitment, perseverance, and prayer.
Here’s the truth from God’s Word:
“On the contrary, what does it say? The message is near you, in your mouth and in your heart. This is the message of faith that we proclaim: 9 If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” – Romans 10:8-9 CSB
Pastor, your church can preach that message of salvation and see people come to Christ.
How can my church lead people to Christ?
You’re probably imaging next Easter with hands slipping up after you preach the altar call, or at the end of the Christmas program, or during the outreach in the oppressed part of town – or in the little hearts that believe at Vacation Bible School. That’s all good.
But let’s talk about what comes before those big days.
Your church’s evangelism system is what builds layers of an outward, gospel focus that makes it normal… inevitable… for people to come to Christ in your church.
Evangelism is not one outreach and done. To be evangelistically-effective, you need an evangelism system that permeates your church culture.
Don’t get overwhelmed and click away! Evangelism is relatively easy to do, if you start small and work on it every week.
And yes, you will face resistance from the comfortable congregants who like their inward focus. But in the end, who do you want the “well done” from?
Why does evangelism need to be a system?
A system is made up of a plan and a process.
Having a good evangelism system means that your church works strategically, consistently, and on multiple levels to present the gospel. It means that you don’t overlook those who are outside your church and you don’t keep doing things that are heavy on effort, but light on eternal results.
From mentoring hundreds of churches, I’ve learned that the difference between being the pastor of a church that doesn’t lead people to Christ and one that does is simple: evangelistically-effective churches put an evangelism system in place.
How to Build an Effective Evangelism System in your Church
Here are 10 pieces of an evangelism process that will help your church lead people to Christ regularly.
1. Pray like an evangelist.
Does your own heart burn for the people in the line at the grocery store who will spend eternity separated from God?
If it doesn’t, here’s a prayer that God regularly uses to keep my heart soft toward people who don’t know Christ:
“Lord, I don’t ask you for much today. Just give me your heart for lost people.”
Keep praying that prayer until you find yourself weeping for the lost people around you.
As your heart softens and shifts, there are many evangelism-oriented things to pray over. Here are some lists, strategies, and Bible verses to prompt your evangelistically-driven prayers:
- Your Best Response to a Spiritual Attack
- 12 Prayers that will Build your Church
- How to Pray Like Paul for your Church [Free Download]
- 12 Simple Ways to be a Pastor who Prays Like a Warrior
If you believe Jesus, prayer is the first and most important piece in your evangelism system, because it is the Lord who calls people to himself.
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him…” (John 6:44).
2. Inspire and equip your church members to be light and salt in your community.
Light and salt can take the form of random acts of kindness, next door events, and partnering with local agencies.
Equipping involves teaching your people to speak the name of Jesus and show his mercy in your city.
3. Invite your community to church.
You may think that your community could show up at your church any weekend, but that’s the problem. Any weekend translates into “someday” which, unfortunately, never comes, unless you do something about it.
People need a reason to visit your church. Here are the three reasons that I think work best:
- Wow Weekends – you have a special guest who is such a big deal that the people in your city say, “Wow.”
- Church Campaigns – you spend four to six weeks on a topic that addresses a big felt need of people outside church, like family, money, or meaning in life.
- Comeback Events – you draw back people who came at one time, but have dropped out for one reason or another.
Learn more about these three opportunities to invite your community to your church here: I Need Help to Attract Newcomers
4. Make your church a place that people want to come back to.
It’s hard to get newcomers to stick around long enough to investigate Christianity if you don’t make them feel comfortable.
How’s your follow-up with newcomers?
- How do you help them get connected and integrated?
- Is your building in the best shape it can be? Does it smell clean?
- Can they find friends at your church?
The answers to these questions are your Assimilation System.
Yes, I know, you could do wonders if you had more money, but elbow grease, good taste, and friendly social skills cost zero dollars. Use what God has put in your congregation to make your church an attractive place to be. This ebook will help you see how to keep newcomers coming: Keeping your Guests Coming Back.
5. Follow-up with new believers.
Do you have someone who meets with a new believer at the end of the service to clarify their commitment to Christ? Do you set up a follow-up time to meet with them to help them take their first steps in their new relationship with Jesus?
Our Next Steps team is already scattered around the auditorium when I ask people to raise their hands if they just asked Christ into their lives. They slip a card into the person’s hand with an invitation to meet them at our discipleship booth in the lobby.
Then we personalize the new believer process by training Next Step team members to meet personally with each new believer at the time and place most convenient to them.
Here is how you can follow up with new believers: 9 Things to do When you Have a New Believer in your Church [Free Download].
6. Have a plan for helping new believers grow up spiritually.
No doubt you already have a system for discipleship in your church. It includes your weekend services, small groups or Sunday School classes, ministry roles, stewardship, and a smorgasbord of church events.
I hear pastors complain that the people in their church don’t ever really grow up in Christ. You know them… stuck somewhere in spiritual adolescence… sometimes acting like an adolescent.
What if they just need to know what maturity looks like and to be challenged to get there.
Rick Warren’s Base Path is discipleship genius. He makes it easy for people in his church to see (1) that there’s a goal, and (2) how to get there. The sports analogy knocks it out of the ball park. Guys can relate to it. It communicates that there’s a goal, and you want to try to win.
You can shape your discipleship offerings into a system and strategy with a little thought and prayer, a couple of meetings, and some graphic design and communication. Here’s how to do it: How to Fire Up your Church for Spiritual Growth.
7. Preach every weekend knowing that there are people in the audience who don’t know Jesus yet.
I write my messages to include all the different people in the audience:
- Mature Christians who want to be challenged and learn something new about the Bible.
- New Christians who need to see what it means to live for Jesus.
- Pre-Christians who should see that there just might be something for them in this Jesus thing.
Insider language, assuming everyone is already saved, and polarizing politics will shoo people who don’t know Jesus right out of your church. It’s hard to lead people to Jesus if you scare them off before you ever get to the gospel.
Plus it’s harder to get your church members to invite their unchurched friends if you make it awkward
8. Present the gospel regularly in your children’s and youth ministries and teach the kids how to share their faith.
Do your next generation ministries present the gospel on a regular basis and give the children and teens an opportunity to live for Jesus?
I hope so!
You’ll see fruit and growth in those departments if you make it about a real, life-changing relationship with Jesus.
It has to be fun and relational, of course, but Next Gen ministry is too critical for fun and size to be your primary priorities.
Be intentional about leading the next generation to Jesus, and to maturity in their faith, and you will have a strong evangelistic outlook in your church.
9. Have a ministry in your church that teaches people how to share the gospel.
We’ve learned over the years that pastors leading people to Christ from the platform does not make an outwardly-focused church.
An essential part of an evangelism system is a class that equips your church members to share their faith.
We partner with Gospel Colors Outreach because they have a program that trains adults, teens, and kids to share their faith using the 5 colors of the gospel. We love that families go on weekend missions trips to share the gospel together. GCO will train and support the development of an evangelism ministry in your church.
10. Provide missions trips or local outreaches where your people personally share the Gospel with others.
Missions trips in evangelistically-effective churches do more than build a house or lead a VBS. The people on the trip go out to lead people to Jesus.
Most people aren’t naturally evangelists, so a missions trip is an intensive opportunity for them to practice sharing their faith. Once they experience it on a trip, they will be more comfortable sharing Christ in their everyday lives.
When you equip people to share their faith, and let them practice, and make it normal, you release a cadre of evangelists in your church and city.
Keep your heart hot for evangelism, my friend, and take small steps to develop an evangelism system in your church. You’ll see God use it to bring people into a saving relationship with Jesus.