Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The pastor and evangelism

For years we have relied on information about evangelism from old sources that are no longer valid. For instance, Gary McIntosh, in his book Growing God's Church: How People Are Actually Coming to Faith Today, points out that "in the 1980s it was reported that 85 to 90 percent of people were coming to Christ through family and friends. This statistic is still widely quoted, but my research reveals it is no longer factual. Family and friends now account for just 59 percent of faith conversions...Another example reveals that thirty years ago pastors were responsible for just 6 percent of faith decisions, but my new research reveals that pastors and other staff members are now responsible for 17 percent of all commitments to Christ." While that is still lower than family and others, it indicates that the role of the pastor is much more influential in a person's decision to become a Christian.

When McIntosh asked new converts to Christianity to name the factors of the pastor's ministry that led them to the church they now attend they identified five.

  1. Preaching that teaches and applies to life
  2. Authenticity of the pastor
  3. Personal contact by the pastor
  4. Pastor's sense of humor
  5. Pastor's leadership skills.
He also noted that in smaller churches it is often the pastor who actually leads the persons to faith in Jesus Christ. While members and others may bring the person to church, it is often the pastor who actually leads the individual to faith.

If a pastor is serious about evangelism, what are the ways he or she can increase his or her effectiveness? Again, McIntosh shares several ideas.

  1. Maintain your passion for evangelism. If the pastor is not passionate about evangelism the church will also not have that passion.
  2. Build relationships with unbelievers and spend time with them.
  3. Pray every day for the salvation of people in your family and others with whom you have a relationship.
  4. Create casual forums for spiritual conversations.
  5. Preach regularly on salvation and the need people have for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
  6. Begin a class that will train 10 percent of your people each year in evangelism.
  7. Continually work to improve your preaching and public speaking.
Doing each of these things will help create an evangelistic climate in the church. As more and more people begin to share your passion for evangelism, you will see more people making decisions for Christ.

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