This blog series is to challenge our thinking when it comes to evangelism in our churches if we are to reach this generation for Jesus. I’ve already shared with you the first four SHIFTS we must make:
- “We need to SHIFT from leader-owned evangelism to congregation-owned evangelism.”
- “We need to SHIFT from event-driven evangelism to relationship-driven evangelism.”
- “We need to SHIFT from decision driven evangelism to journey driven evangelism.”
- “We need to SHIFT our focus in evangelism from reaching the lost to activating believers as effective witnesses.”
The fifth SHIFT that must take place is this:
- We need to SHIFT our strategy from special-focus evangelism to developing a witnessing culture and lifestyle
When you think about the evangelistic activity of your church, where do you see evangelism taking place? You would probably say at Christmas and Easter time; you may have a fair or carols or maybe a special evangelistic service. You may even have a special Mother’s Day or Father’s Day service. Or maybe you have an evangelistic event on Valentine’s Day or Anzac Day, and you probably have different ministries you would say are evangelistic. These are the times when people typically think, “It’s evangelism time.”
Now, just take a moment to think about the budget you put into these things. Think about how much effort and resource is tied up in these events every year at your church. Then consider how many people you have seen repent and turn in faith to Jesus at those events. Feel free to pause here and write down some of your thoughts.
When you think about the response you have seen, let me ask you, have you seen numbers of people responding to Jesus to match the effort and resource expended? Most church leaders I talk to say, “No”.
Let me challenge you with this question: What if you put that budget and those resources into developing a witnessing culture and lifestyle among your people? I can hear some leaders saying, we can’t stop doing these things, but think about it. Has your approach to evangelism caused the believers in your church to develop a personal witnessing lifestyle? Does your church have a witnessing culture or is your approach to evangelism simply keeping your people busy organizing events, while few people respond to Jesus?
We know cultural change takes more than just a weekend seminar. It takes consistency over time to change a culture. That is a primary reason EvangelismSHIFT is a two-year journey we take churches on.
Many leaders are committed to evangelism and putting on evangelistic events. As leaders we preach the gospel and the word of God faithfully, but if we are honest, we struggle to personally live as effective witnesses in our own daily lives. Bible colleges are so valuable to the church, but they typically don’t teach leaders how to live effectively as witnesses for Jesus.
We ourselves must learn how to live as witnesses if we are ever going to be able to pass this lifestyle onto our people so that they live as effective witnesses in their daily lives. Cultural change begins with leaders. So where should we start?
Wouldn’t you agree that we typically look around and see a church that seems to be growing and we think, what are they doing that we can adopt. But when it comes to strategy, the best place for us to start is imitating our Lord Jesus. The Apostle Paul understood this. He even said, “imitate me as I imitate Christ”.
Each of the four gospels were written by the gospel authors to make a theological point about Jesus.When it comes to each of the gospels, all the events in Jesus’ life are put in order to emphasis the point they are trying to make.
But when you look at all the major events in Jesus’ life, there are statements around them that act like time markers. As a result, you can take the major events of Jesus’ life and lay them out chronologically. This exercise allows you to ask the question, did Jesus have a clear strategy for developing those people who didn’t know him into people who would become multiplying disciplemakers?
The answer to that question jumps out of the chronology. There are clear phases that Jesus went through strategically to develop multiplying disciplemakers. When you study Jesus’ process, you discover what Jesus’ objectives were and how you can achieve those same objectives in our time and culture today.
As leaders, we must understand Jesus’ approach to ministry in order to SHIFT the way we approach ministry. Why? So that when someone comes to know Jesus personally, they don’t just do what typically happens, come into the big collection of Christians who sit in church for decades, being taught the word and growing spiritually, but never getting involved in the Great Commission. Rather, they come into a culture where they are actively taking their next step in developing an effective witnessing lifestyle and becoming a disciplemaker who contributes to spread Jesus’ spiritual movement across the world.
We need to SHIFT our strategy from special-focus evangelism to developing a witnessing culture and lifestyle. This is the fifth SHIFT that we help churches take through the journey of EvangelismSHIFT.
Our EvangelismSHIFT vision is to see a movement of churches across the world whose people have a culture of living as witnesses in their everyday encounters, calling others to respond to Christ.
You can learn more about EvangelismSHIFT at www.evangelismshift.afci.com.au .