Deep down, most believers know they should be sharing their faith, but few do. It seems easy to offer excuses—I’m afraid of saying something wrong. I don’t know how. I don’t want to come across like a pushy salesperson.
But growing in faith should include sharing faith. Mature followers of Christ may still experience sweaty palms or the occasional nervous tremor in their voices, but they embrace the opportunity to witness of Christ for three reasons:
The following quotes caught my attention as I (Matt Smethurst) read Elliot Clark‘s marvelous new book, Evangelism as Exiles: Life on Mission as Strangers in Our Own Land (TGC, 2019) [foreword]. I cannot remember the last time I felt this convicted, and inspired, to hold forth the beauty of gospel grace.
A recent study by Lifeway Research discovered some findings that have caught my attention. The researchers learned that 56 percent of Protestant churchgoers pray at least weekly for opportunities to tell others about Jesus. Frankly, I find that percentage higher than I would have assumed, but I’m grateful for those who are at least thinking about evangelism.
I first awakened to the importance of how we talk about evangelism while taking a language course in Central Asia. The instructor was a veteran missionary. In his class on spiritual vocabulary, he lamented a growing trend among local churches. They had begun to import a foreign phrase brought by American Christians; they now talked about evangelism in terms of “sharing the gospel.”
The typical church has about 75 attendees every week.
So if you pastor a small congregation, your church isn’t broken, it’s what’s known as normal. And normal doesn’t need to be fixed.
But for the most part, the books, conferences and classes about pastoring tend to concentrate on big church principles, or on how to help the smaller churches become bigger.
That’s not a bad thing, in fact it’s expected, since we all want to learn from those with growing ministries.
Statistics about Christian converts and church plants in Southeast Asia have been tough to come by. But with 21st-century technology, missionaries are now maintaining databases to map the Gospel’s spread.
In Thailand, which is 94 percent Buddhist, the Rev. Dwight Martin developed a database called Harvest to pinpoint unreached areas. Martin, who grew up in Thailand with missionary parents, has an MBA in technology management and worked in the software industry for 30 years.
Through the years I have been asked hundreds of times about what I would say are the critical steps in planting or launching a church or ministry. Having planted two churches and after helping numerous nonprofit ministries see their start, I’ve learned a few things, many of which I write about here, I know are a few common steps in a successful launch.
“Our numbers are down.”
Few words have inspired more dejection among American pastors. For many, the emotional ups and downs of their labors are tethered to the attendance figures of Sunday mornings and ministry events. This fixation on numbers plagues churches of all shapes and sizes. Some may acknowledge that such ups and downs are unhealthy—even ungodly—yet they still can’t help being downcast when attendance flags.
This post may surprise you. I know that culture is increasingly anti-Christian, and the work of the gospel ministry faces new challenges every day. On the other hand, I’m excited about doing evangelism today. Here’s why
The Church is in a time of crisis.
More specifically, the Church has an evangelism crisis. We live in a free country and are allowed to talk about Jesus openly in most contexts. Nothing is stopping us from inviting others to our churches. We don’t live in a place where we risk our livelihood to lives to share the gospel.