The Faith Bible Church facility, La Marque, TX
I've set in that chair many times. (The people in the church pictured above are fantastic, and are working hard at reaching people for Christ!) Perhaps you have, too. Perhaps you're there now--the pastor of a church seeking to motivate your people to use their God-given gifts to somehow spread the gospel to the community and abroad. Or maybe you've been asking the wrong question, "What will it take to pack out my building on Sunday morning?" Perhaps you could, instead, ask, "What will it take to persuade my people to share the gospel in our community and abroad during the week?"
Or maybe you're a Sunday school teacher, youth worker, or pew warmer who feels the burden to become a mover/shaker for Christ; you feel something (or Someone) is tugging on your heart to say something or do something that would spark a great desire for your church to become a catalyst for the gospel in your community.
Whether you realize it or not, the big question at hand really is, "How can I inspire my people to evangelize to our community and beyond?"
While I definitely don't know all the answers, I'd like to offer a few suggestions that may be overlooked by many.
Pray to the Lord of the Harvest.
If you're like me (If you are I wouldn't tell anyone--it's for your own safety!), you may have jumped on the latest and greatest bandwagon of books, DVD's, and seminars on how to get Christians to share the gospel. Thank God there are some great stuff out there on this topic! But isn't it interesting that the first thing Christ told His disciples in regard to evangelism was to pray? Read about it in Matthew 9:35-38.
Jesus had the opportunity to give the boys His greatest tips on evangelism, but He said, "Ask my Father to rise up more people like you to bring the Good News to them." The reason was apparent: there were only 13 of them and multitudes of lost people! So by all means, PRAY! This must be our top prayer request in every small group, prayer meeting, and corporate service: for God to rise up more laborers to go into His harvest!
Prayer motivates. When your people sees your heart for the lost as you consistently lead them in prayer for laborers, something happens to them. They will either get tired of hearing you pray, or they will join you. Those who join you in prayer for evangelism will follow you in evangelism.
Set the Example
Isn't that what Paul told Timothy? Check it out in 2 Timothy 4:5. Paul told him to do the work of an evangelist. This doesn't mean Timothy was an evangelist. In fact, it is quite apparent he wasn't, or else Paul would've said, "Do your thing, Tim!" Paul told a young pastor to do something he may very well have been most uncomfortable doing--evangelize.
You can't lead anyone in a direction you aren't going yourself. I love the way my mentor, Dr. Larry Moyer, puts it, "Instead of talking about the lost needing Christ, we must talk to the lost about Christ!" And Paul told Timothy to "do as I do." So if you really want to inspire your people to share the gospel to the lost, then you must be in the practice of sharing the gospel to people yourself. In fact, bring one or two of your church members to watch you evangelize. They'll get a kick out of it!
One of my good friends and board members at Child Evangelism Fellowship of Greater Houston taught me a wonderful leadership technique several years ago: leverage yourself. It's Coleman McDuffee's favorite phrase, and it has helped me lead people into a direction I felt God telling us to go.
A common approach to evangelism in many churches today is to have all church members bring their unsaved friends to one event to hear one man share the gospel one time. I'm not saying this is a wrong or bad thing to do, yet Christ told His disciples to go out and make disciples who go out and make disciples. (No, that's not a typo. I meant to type that last phrase twice.) If you were to leverage yourself in evangelism by training 5 of your people to share the clear, simple gospel, then you can potentially reach many more than you can by yourself. Plus, those 5 people know many whom you do not know! Surely, it would be much easier to send a trained Christian into the harvest than to bring the harvest to an unfamiliar building.
Think about how many people can hear the gospel if 10 of your people were inspired and trained to bring the gospel message to their friends, co-workers, neighbors, and family members. Pray, set the example, and leverage yourself. You will be amazed at how the Holy Spirit will bring His inspiration to believers in your church who seek His wisdom and direction in evangelism.
(For more Inspiring Evangelism, feel free to contact me! I would be honored to partner with you!)