Recently I have been asked to talk with pastors who are struggling with evangelism in their churches. Because Covenant Grove is a growing church, and has been every year since we started, people want to hear some tips on how to get started. I wanted to share some of those tips and also some stories. Evangelism, like most things in the Christian life, is best shared through stories.
When the church plant first started, each person was supposed to invite someone else into onto our Launch Team. After 3 months of meeting we had grown by exactly…zero people. In fact, we had actually lost 2 people who decided they didn’t want to be in our church plant. We were discouraged! It was then that we decided to do something crazy. We prayed. We were already praying every time we met, but we were not praying that we would reach out, invite people in, and let God inconvenience our lives. As we prayed, we started living out our prayers and inviting people to our church. Tip #1 is prayer. Pray every day for God to use you to bless others and invite them into His family.
Evangelism isn’t about selling Jesus but about transforming lives. People need the hope and strength that are found in Jesus. One day my wife and I were on a date, getting coffee, when a woman we both knew came up and shared about some struggles. She was giving us the quick version, but we asked her to share more. She did, and we asked if we could pray for her. As we prayed, right there in the coffee shop, she began to cry. We all hugged when the prayer was over, and she invited herself to come to church! Tip #2 is listen. Evangelism is listening. People are hurting and most of our world doesn’t have time to listen. If you listen and pray with people, they will experience God’s strength and be very open to the invitation.
Before I planted Covenant Grove, I was a youth pastor. Every youth group I was part of grew, and so I checked off the “evangelism” box in my life. It was not until church planting that I discovered a big gap: I was not personally doing any evangelism. I wasn’t inviting people to church. I wasn’t willing to be interrupted or uncomfortable to talk to others, listen to them, pray with them, and invite them. In fact, I hated all of those things! As I began teaching on the priority of sharing God’s hope (see Matt 4:18-20; 10:1-2; 28:18-20), I had to make a commitment: I had to personally invite people. Let’s just say that the first few conversations didn’t go well! I was a little rusty at sharing my faith, and I had to fall a few times before I got it. But I am stubborn and kept at it, and now God has used me to bless others in countless conversations – all outside of church. Tip #3 is commitment. Don’t overthink evangelism and don’t give up – just keep doing what Jesus commanded. You will find that your life is being transformed by Jesus even as He uses you to transform others.
I will share some more stories and tips next week. What are your evangelism stories? I would love to hear them!!