In March 2017, the Caskey Center for Church Excellence partnered with the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism and Lifeway Research to study the personal evangelism habits of pastors serving in small churches. The study involved a survey of 1,500 smaller membership church pastors serving in Evangelical denominations across the United States.
Once the data was collected and analyzed, we discovered that there were 10 factors that contributed to greater numbers of people making first time commitments to follow Christ. These factors are descriptive. They reflect the methods and makeup of the churches who effectively reached lost people with the gospel over the past year. However, some of these factors may be prescriptive. If you are serving in a church, particularly a smaller membership church, you may want to consider these factors. Create an environment for personal evangelism.
1. Higher percentage of unchurched attendees: The pastors/churches who effectively reached lost people with the gospel were the ones who connected with unchurched people. Those who focus on reaching “church folk” just don’t have the exposure to lost people. We must be incarnational. Go into the unchurched world. Have gospel conversations. Create a welcoming place where unchurched people feel loved.
2. Higher percentage of Hispanic attendees: This is certainly a descriptive factor. Hispanic churches are effectively engaging with the lost world. Can your church begin an outreach or mission to Hispanics in your community?
3. Lower Church Attendance: Small churches are great places to engage in Gospel conversations with the lost. As worship attendance increases, it can become difficult to have personal interactions. I think that many people crave family connections, and smaller membership churches are able to provide that environment.
4. Pastor asks for personal commitment more often: It is certainly true that people cannot know Christ unless someone tells them the gospel. It follows that those who hear the gospel will not make a commitment unless they are invited to do so. We must invite people to make a commitment to Christ.
5. More Training Events Attended by Pastor: When a young man learns to be a carpenter, he begins with one tool, then adds others as he becomes proficient. Before long, he is a master carpenter with many tools in his tool belt. For pastors, ministry training (evangelism, missions, preaching, teaching, leadership, etc.) is how we add tools to our tool belt. Evangelistic pastors are evangelistic because they seek to become proficient with evangelism tools. The more tools you have, the more versatile you will be.
6. More Classes Offered for New Attendees: These churches were prepared with classes to teach foundational beliefs to new attendees. This gave new disciples a jump start on how to be a disciplemaking disciple of Jesus.
7. More Frequent Ministry Opportunities Outside the Church: Evangelistic churches are ones that are in the world, not withdrawn from the world. We must love people where they are in order for them to know the love of Christ. We cannot wait for them to come find us.
8. More Reports of Members Evangelizing: Evangelism and ministry is not the exclusive responsibility of the pastor. The most effective evangelistic pastors are the ones who create an culture of evangelism within the church.
9. More Time Dedicated by Pastors to Evangelism: Evangelistic pastors are intentional about being in the community and sharing the gospel. Church members see the importance of evangelism and follow the pastor’s lead.
10. Higher percentage of church budget spent on evangelism: Jesus said in Matthew 6:21, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” In other words, we budget for what we value. If you are passionate about reaching the lost in this world with the gospel message, then you will devote financial resources to reaching the lost in this world.