Archives For Evangelism

These articles are written to encourage and equip you and your people to share the Gospel locally and globally.

Topics include: personal evangelism, global missions, cultural trends, etc.

When I wrote The Purpose Driven Church, I made the bold assertion that every church is driven by something. That’s still true, and you must decide what will drive your congregation.

A lot of churches are driven by tradition. Others will be driven by personalities and politics. Still other churches are driven by debt, by the shape of their buildings, or by a ministry structure so large and so inflexible that fresh growth will be difficult.

Healthy churches, however, are driven by God’s purposes. These churches will focus on the Great Commandment and the Great Commission, and they’ll discover that God wants his church to fulfill five purposes:

  • Worship – Healthy churches will magnify the name of Jesus in all that they do.
  • Evangelism – Healthy churches will focus on the mission of introducing unchurched people to Jesus.
  • Fellowship – Healthy churches will bring people into membership in God’s family, the church.
  • Discipleship – Healthy churches will help people become more like Christ.
  • Ministry – Healthy churches will help…

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In ministry, some things must never change but others must change constantly.

Clearly, God’s five purposes for his church are non-negotiable. If a church fails to balance the five purposes of worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and evangelism, then it’s no longer a healthy church, and it’s in danger of becoming simply a social club.

On the other hand, the way or style in which we fulfill these eternal purposes must continually be adjusted and modified because human culture is always changing. Our message must never change, but the way we deliver that message must be constantly updated to reach each new generation.

In other words, our message of transformation must never change while the transformation of our presentation should be continual, adapting to the new languages of our culture.

Consider this: the word contemporary literally means with temporariness. By nature, nothing contemporary is meant to last forever! It is only effective for a while and only relevant in that particular moment – which’s what makes it contemporary.

What is considered contemporary and relevant in the next ten years will inevitably appear dated and tired in 20 years. As a pastor, I’ve watched churches adopt many contemporary styles…

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Conversation

The longer you’re a believer, the less you think like an unbeliever. After you come to Christ, your interests and values change.

Because I’ve been a Christian for most of my life, I think like a Christian. I don’t normally think like an unbeliever. Worse than that, I tend to think like a pastor, and that’s even further removed from an unbeliever’s mindset! That means I must intentionally change mental gears when seeking to relate to non-Christians.

If you look at most church advertising, it’s obvious that it was written from a believer’s viewpoint — not from the mindset of the unchurched.

When you see a church ad that announces, “Preaching the Inerrant Word of God,” what group of people do you think that ad appeals to? Certainly not to unbelievers!

Personally, I consider the inerrancy of Scripture as a non-negotiable belief, but the unchurched don’t even understand the term. If you’re going to advertise and promote your church, you must learn to think and speak like unbelievers. The spiritual terminology that’s familiar to Christians is just gibberish to the unchurched.

I’ve often heard pastors complain that unbelievers are more resistant to the Gospel today than in the past….

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Map and Phone

In my previous article, I talked about our need to become world-class Christians. I talked about the importance of shifting our thinking from being self-centered to being others-centered. There are at least two other major shifts that need to happen in our thinking.

Shift from local to global thinking

God is a global God. He has always cared about the entire world: “God so loved the world” (John 3:16a NIV).

From the beginning, he has wanted family members from every nation he created. The Bible says, “From one person God made all nations who live on earth, and he decided when and where every nation would be. God has done all this, so that we will look for him and reach out and find him” (Acts 17:26-27a CEV).

Much of the world already thinks globally. The largest media and business conglomerates are all multinational. Our lives are increasingly intertwined with those in other nations as we share fashion, entertainment, music, sports, and even fast food. Probably most of the clothes you’re wearing, and much of what you’ve eaten today, was produced in another country. We’re more connected than we realize.

These are exciting days to be…

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World

You’ll either be a worldly Christian or a world-class Christian.

“Jesus said to his followers, ‘Go everywhere in the world, and tell the Good News to everyone’” (Mark 16:15 NCV).

“Send us around the world with the news of your saving power and your eternal plan for all mankind” (Psalm 67:2 TLB).

Worldly Christians look to God primarily for personal fulfillment. They’re saved but self-centered. They love to attend concerts and enrichment seminars, but you’d never find them at a mission conference, because they aren’t interested.

Their prayers focus on their own needs, blessings, and happiness. It’s a “me-first” faith: How can God make my life more comfortable? They want to use God for their purposes instead of being used for his purposes.

By contrast, world-class Christians know they were saved to serve and were made for a mission. They’re eager to receive a personal assignment and excited about the privilege of being used by God.

World-class Christians are the only fully alive people on the planet. Their joy, confidence, and enthusiasm are contagious because they know they’re making a difference. They wake up each morning expecting God to work through them in fresh ways.

Which type of Christian do you want to be?

God invites…

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I’ve planted several churches, and I know how hard it can be. I’ve never “closed” a plant, but I’ve sat with several others that have. It is painful — but sometimes it is helpful.

I think that doing an “autopsy” is a helpful part of the learning experience, and something that is not done often enough. Here is one such reflection from John Thomas, a former planter.

As an aside, one of the more fascinating documents we references in Viral Churches was an autopsy report by Todd Hunter. At the time, Todd was director of church planting for the Vineyard and later the head of the Vineyard. Now he is an Anglican Bishop (and we shared a pulpit and some fellowship time last week with the Anglican Church in America). You can download that report from 1986 (an eternity in church-planting years) here.


A Guest Post from John Thomas

Of course, I had heard the stats about church planting failures. Regardless, I went for it knowing the Lord was leading me to start a new church for his glory. I read all the books, attended the conferences, took…

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Over the years, I’ve seen lots of great church-planting practices, and many not-so-great ones. Too many churches open and then close too often because instead of looking to God, they were looking to themselves. Even more unfortunate is the fact that many church plants continue to exist but are like an enclave for the small community of people who attend. It’s like the community couldn’t care less that the church exists.

We must always ask ourselves: What difference does my church plant make in this community and in the world?

It’s a significant question that will take lots of prayer and a good plan. As you consider this, let me share three church-planting practices that need to die if we are to begin and sustain church plants that glorify God and keep us on mission with him.

First, we need to stop the sort of messaging that communicates (implicitly or explicitly) that all other churches are really bad and ours is the best.

I have seen this a lot over the years. For example, a mailer may go out and the messaging says something like:…

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Church planting is part of Saddleback’s DNA. We’ve started at least one church every year since the beginning.

It is simply who we are. We believe that mature churches are just like mature plants or mature people: They bear fruit.

You can tell an apple tree is mature when it starts growing apples. You can tell a Christian is mature when he or she starts winning other people to Christ. And you can tell a congregation is mature when it starts having babies — planting other churches.

I believe any definition of fruitfulness for a local church must include the planting of new congregations, in addition to growth by the conversion of unbelievers. If we’re not reproducing, then it is a sign that something is unhealthy in our congregations.

As I’ve often said, a church’s health is measured by its sending capacity, not its seating capacity.

Regardless of size or location, your church can help start new congregations. At Saddleback Church, we started our first church plant when we had 150 people coming to the weekend services. The truth is, it doesn’t take a megachurch to start new churches.

Over the course of our history, Saddleback Church has planted…

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Baptism is the outward sign of an inward change in a person who has placed their trust in Jesus. We don’t save people — Jesus does that. We just have the privilege of helping them make their big outward profession of faith in the form of baptism.

While I don’t believe we should manipulate people or manufacture results for the sake of numbers, I do believe it’s significant that the Bible records how many people trusted in Jesus and were baptized on the day of Pentecost. The Bible says in Acts 2:41, “Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day — about 3,000 in all” (NLT).

We ought to do all that we can to share the Gospel well, to make it very clear what the new believer’s next steps are, and celebrate the results of more people on their way to Heaven. At Saddleback, we’ve baptized over 47,000 people in the last 36 years, and I’d…

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Planting and Growth

Can our people articulate a simple Gospel message and call men and women to faith in Jesus Christ?

There’s no question that church planting has become the hot new thing. And I’m glad.

When I started my first church in 1988, it was an oddity. Now, it is mainstream.

This morning, I am in a hotel in Boston, about to talk to evangelism leaders, and two young men came up and said, “Are you Ed Stetzer?” Turns out I am, and they are church planters/pastors meeting in a high rise hotel in Back Bay Boston, at Reunion Christian Church.

Today, it’s normal that church planters are everywhere — even in Boston when I’m here talking about evangelism to evangelism leaders.

Books, conferences, and initiatives that champion church planting are manifold. This is a good thing. But it seems to me we’ve got better conferences and bigger excitement and, according to the research, only incremental progress when it comes to the evangelistic fruits of actual church planting.

Statistically, we have more church planting, but slightly less evangelistic impact. And, most importantly, too many church plants don’t have the needed evangelistic…

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Caring for the Sick

The Christian approach to pain, suffering, and sickness is compassion, mercy, tenderness, and caring. Matthew records, When He saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36 HCSB)

  • He didn’t write off their illness as an illusion.
  • He didn’t blame them for their illness.
  • He didn’t discourage them or tell them to give up.

He had compassion. If you’re going to be like Jesus, you have to learn to be compassionate toward people when they’re sick.

Millions of people are suffering unnecessarily from preventable and sometimes curable diseases. Three hundred million people will contract malaria this year, but we know how to prevent it and treat it. Every day three thousand children die of a mosquito bite.

And then there are the diseases we don’t have a cure for yet, but we’re working on it. Three million people die each year from HIV/AIDS. We don’t have the cure yet, but we do know how to prevent it.

We cannot delay. We cannot procrastinate. If we’re going to be people of compassion,…

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It’s so easy to get comfortable, to settle in, and to spend all of our time thinking only about frivolous, surface issues. But when you understand the scale and witness the sight of real human suffering, you can’t help but feel moved to say and do something on behalf of those who suffer. Today, tens of millions of people are suffering with HIV and AIDS, and the church can do something about it. But only if we’re willing to be disturbed…

For more, visit KayWarren.com and HIVandtheChurch.com.

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