Eighteen months ago, I reported on a Twitter poll that asked why churches aren’t evangelistic. Since that time, I have followed up by asking the same question of church leaders in both evangelistic and non-evangelistic churches.
I could cite you a plethora of statistics that demonstrate the evangelistic apathy of most of our churches in North America. But I really don’t think you need much convincing.
Instead, based on my conversations, I will share with you those key reasons why we aren’t evangelistic. Here are ten of them:
- They don’t really believe people need Jesus. Unless church members and leaders really believe in the lostness of humanity without Christ, they will not be evangelistic. John 14:6 is a clear biblical statement on the exclusivity of Christ for salvation. Too many leaders and members only give lip service to it.
- Evangelism is spiritual warfare. In the most carnal sense, life is easier without being evangelistic. Spiritual warfare is tough. Sometimes it seems to be easier to go AWOL from the battle than to fight in the trenches.
- It’s hard work. From time to time someone will ask me, “What is the easiest way to get our church to do evangelism?” The answer is “none of the above.” Too many churches have become self-serving country clubs rather than obedient and sacrificial vessels of God.
- Evangelism requires intentionality. God did not say, “Share the gospel as you stay where you are.” He said, “Go” (Matthew 28:19). When you “go,” you have to know where you are going. That requires intentionality.
- Effective evangelism often requires we pray for the opportunities. Consider this challenge. Begin each day with a prayer that God will bring people in your path (or help you to see them) where you can be a gospel witness in word and deed. I have been amazed (though I shouldn’t be) how God has answered that prayer in my own life.
- Too many people have too many excuses. One church member told me the entire county where he lives was fully churched. In fact, he said there are too many churches. There are, he said, no gospel opportunities. I then showed him demographics that showed his county was 62% unchurched. His response? “I don’t believe that.”
- Too many churches are too busy to do evangelism. If your church has so many activities, meetings, and programs that your members never have time to develop relationships and share the gospel, your church is too busy. Some times Satan’s most powerful tool is to get us doing good things to the neglect of the best thing.
- Church leaders are not evangelistic. If the pastor, staff, elders, deacons, and teachers are not evangelistic, it is unlikely the church will be evangelistic. The church members will follow that disobedient example.
- Many church leaders and members don’t know their field or ministry area. Jesus said, “the harvest is abundant, but the workers are few” (Matthew 9:37). So where is the harvest field? Too many churches neglect their community because they are really ignorant of who is there and what their needs are.
- Evangelism is counter-cultural. If you want to be a people pleaser, don’t be evangelistic. Culture hates the gospel that says there is only one way of salvation. But if you want to be a God-pleaser, share the gospel. You may die doing it, but what an honor to pay such a price!
So what are most of our churches in North America communicating to the world with our self-centeredness and lack of evangelistic fervor? It’s simple.
We are telling the world to go to hell.
May God convict us of our evangelistic apathy.
This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on September 5, 2016. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.