Top 10 Factors Predicting the Most Committed New Members

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The Caskey Center for Church Excellence, in partnership with the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism and Lifeway Research, recently completed a study examining the personal evangelism habits of smaller membership church pastors. These pastors are serving in 1,500 Evangelical Protestant churches in the United States.

While we asked, “the past 12 months, how many people have indicated a new commitment to Jesus Christ as Savior through your church?” a significant follow-up question asked was, “Among these commitments in the past 12 months, how many have ALSO become active in the life of your church?” The importance of this question reveals whether the churches are effectively fulfilling the Great Commission. While it is important to GO and make disciples of all the nations, a church isn’t making disciples if those new believers aren’t being taught to observe all that Christ has commanded.

The infographic above reflects the Top 10 factors predicting the most committed new members in a smaller membership church.

1. Higher Percentage of Unchurched Attendees

This is also the number one factor for predicting churches with the greatest number of new believers. Pastors and churches that are successful at reaching the lost and keeping new believers engaged in the life of the church are those churches (pastors) who have created an environment where unchurched people feel welcome and wanted.

2. Lower Church Attendance

This variable is number three for predicting new believers, it is the second highest factor in predicting the most number of committed new members. Rick Warren has often been noted to say, “churches must grow smaller in order to grow larger.” In this quote, Warren is referring to the importance of small groups in churches. In larger churches, small groups are the setting where people make meaning relationship connections with other believers. This becomes their spiritual “family” for support and encouragement. In smaller churches, that sense of family is church wide. New believers tend to have significant relationships across the entire church body.

3. More Classes Offered for New Attendees

The importance of teaching fundamental doctrines and disciplines to new believers cannot be overemphasized. Those who are given a solid foundation early in their commitment to Christ tend to maintain their involvement in the church.

4. More Training Events Attended by Pastor

As the pastor is better equipped to engage in personal evangelism, he becomes more effective at both personally sharing the gospel and coaching church members to share the gospel. Members tend to follow the example set by the pastor.

5. Pastors Ask 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.

6. Higher Percentage of Church Budget Spent on Evangelism/Missions

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.

7. 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.

8. Higher Percentage of Hispanic Attendees

This is certainly a descriptive factor rather than a prescriptive factor. Of the pastors who responded to the survey, Hispanic churches are effectively engaging with the lost world. Can your church begin an outreach or mission to Hispanics in your community?

9. More Affirmation that Pastor Communicates Well with Unchurched

What is particularly interesting is that the ninth predictor for predicting the most new converts and the ninth predictor for the most committed new members are the only factors in each top ten list that are different. The ninth factor for the most new converts is “More Time Dedicated by Pastors to Evangelism.” While they are different factors, there is definitely a similarity. For one outcome (new convert), the pastor must dedicate more time to evangelism. For the other outcome (committed new believers), the pastor must be adept at communicating well with the unchurched. A key to that communication is to be able to share the gospel without using “churchy” words. Just because you know theological terms, doesn’t mean you have to use those terms all the time. Find ways of communicating the concepts clearly.

10. More Frequent Ministry Activities Outside of 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.

 

 

 

Top 10 Factors Predicting The Most Converts

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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.

Dr. Mark Tolbert’s Amplify Presentation

Tolbert Amplify

In the spring of 2017, the Caskey Center for Church Excellence conducted research on the personal evangelism habits of smaller membership church pastors. This was a national study of 1,500 evangelical pastors, and we conducted this study in partnership with the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism.

The video in this link is of Dr. Mark Tolbert’s presentation of some key findings of the study at the Amplify National Evangelism Conference.

Public Invitation: Biblical?

 

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For many today the ministry of Billy Graham has come from memories to history. Billy Graham became popular for his evangelistic ministry. His crusades were widely attended and marked by his practice of the public invitation. Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, public invitations were common among evangelists such as John Wesley, John Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Finney, Charles Spurgeon, Dwight Moody, and Billy Sunday. These men were not bashful about calling sinners to repent and accept Christ publicly.

Today the climate towards public evangelistic invitations has turned bitter and even hostile in some Christian circles. As I reflect on this change in attitude towards the public invitation I can only think of one reason why every church should practice a public invitation—it is biblical.

Old Testament Examples

  • Moses. After Moses discovered the Israelites worshiping the golden calf, he stood at the gate of the camp and asked, “Who is on the Lord’s side? Come to me” (Ex. 32:26). This appeal demonstrated the Moses was calling the Israelites to denounce publicly their sin and follow God.
  • Joshua. When Joshua addressed the people of Israel right before his death he said, “And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15).
  • Elijah. At Mount Carmel, Elijah asked the people of Israel who they would serve, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him” (1 Kings 18:21). While no one responded, the invitation was clear.

Examples by Jesus

  • Jesus publicly called his disciples. Jesus called Philip, Matthew, and the brothers Simon and Andrew with the simple phrase “Follow me.” It can be safely assumed that Jesus used a similar method when calling the other disciples.
  • Jesus publicly called individuals. Most notably Jesus called Zacchaeus publically. When Jesus arrived at the tree He said, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” Upon Jesus’ command and in an act of repentance, Zacchaeus declared that he would give back to all whom he had wronged. Clearly, this was a call of salvation and public repentance because Jesus explained, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
  • Jesus publicly called the crowds. In Matthew 11:28-29 and in John 7:37-38, Jesus invites the crowd to come to him. Each of these instances were invitations for them to come humbly and trust Jesus.

New Testament Examples

  • Peter. In Acts 2:14-41, Peter delivered one of the greatest salvation messages ever recorded. “And Peter said to them, ‘repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’” (Acts 2:38). Peter preached for a response, and he expected one. By the end of the invitation, about three thousand people had been saved.
  • Paul. The ministry of Paul displayed a pattern of evangelistic preaching with the desire to call for response. As recorded in the book of Acts, Paul preached in synagogues located in Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Thessalonica, Berea, Corinth, and Ephesus. In each of these situations, Paul proclaimed the truth of the gospel with boldness, presented the truth clearly and sympathetically, preached with respect to his hearers, and identified the difficulties that the listeners would encounter.
  • Philip. Philip experienced the work of preaching the gospel when he led the Ethiopian eunuch to the Lord. After explaining the Scriptures to the eunuch, he demanded that he stop and be baptized in the passing water immediately. The invitation was public and immediate.

The call to ask someone publicly to repent of their sin and follow Jesus is a call that is biblical. The Old Testament prophets, Jesus, and the early church leaders all practiced calling individuals and crowds to follow Jesus. Pastors, call your people to repent publicly and believe the Gospel. Don’t allow the methodology of an altar call to stop you from giving a public invitation.

Simple Evangelism Presentations

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There are many personal evangelism presentations available for believers. I was recently asked what was my personal favorite approach to personal evangelism. After I gave my answer, I began to think about why it was my favorite and if there were others that met the same criteria.

  1. Based on the Bible

The first criterion for my preferred personal evangelism presentations is that it must be based on scripture. Paul stated in 1 Cor. 15 that the gospel he preached, we must also preach. That gospel is “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to Scriptures.” As he continued, he was adamant to point the Corinthians (and us) back to the Scriptures. The Bible says that in order to proclaim the Word of God, we must use the Word of God.

  1. Easy to Learn

The second criterion is that the presentation must be easy to learn. I believe that teaching a new believer to share his or her new faith should come early in the process of disciplemaking. In fact, I think a new believer should be encouraged to share that faith within the first hour. The simplest way to do this is to have the new believer share the gospel presentation that was shared with him/her. Therefore, it must be easy to learn.

  1. Easy to Teach

It’s not enough for a new believer to learn the gospel, the new believer must also be confident enough to teach others to share the gospel. Therefore, the presentation must be easy to teach.

Resources

There are a number of great, simple gospel presentations. Here are some that are available online:

One Verse Evangelism This presentation is available from the Navigators. It was written by Randy Raysbrook. The presentation is based on Romans 6:23, and utilizes the bridge illustration.

https://www.navigators.org/Tools/Evangelism%20Resources/Tools/One-Verse%20Evangelism-%20How%20to%20Share%20Christ-s%20Love%20C

Steps to Peace With God This resource was created by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. It was originally developed as a tract, but is useful as an outline to a gospel presentation.

Step ONE: God loves you and wants you to experience peace and life- abundant and eternal.
Step TWO: We choose to disobey God and go our own willful way. This results in separation from God.
Step THREE: Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose from the grave. He paid the penalty for our sin and bridged the gap between God and people.
Step FOUR: We must trust Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and receive Him by personal invitation.

https://peacewithgod.net

John 3:16 One Verse Evangelism This presentation is similar to the Navigators presentation in that it utilizes a version of the bridge illustration. This version uses John 3:16 as the basis of the gospel.

http://gbcchurchplants.com/pdfs/One%20Verse%20Evangelism%20(John%203-16).pdf

Wordless Book This resource is great to use with children or anyone who is an oral learner. It uses five colors to communicate the gospel:

GOLD God wants us to be in heaven with Him.
BLACK Our sin separates us from God.
RED Christ died on the cross as the only payment for our sin.
WHITE Accept God’s forgiveness and the free gift of eternal life.
GREEN Grow closer to God every day.

http://www.cefonline.com/download/wordless-book-pdf/

Four Spiritual Laws This is better used as a tract, but it is possible to learn the four laws as the basis of a gospel presentation. Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru) developed this approach.

1. God loves you and created you to know Him personally.

2. Man is sinful and separated from God, so we cannot know Him personally or experience His love.

3. Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for man’s sin. Through Him alone we can know God personally and experience God’s love.

4. We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know God personally and experience His love.

http://knowgod.com/en/fourlaws/?utm_source=4laws&utm_medium=website&utm_campaign=4laws-visit&utm_content=english

 

Gospel Appointments Resource

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I had the pleasure of meeting with the Baptist Collegiate Network this evening. This is a network of leaders in Baptist Collegiate Ministries. These guys are passionate about making disciple-making disciples on the nation’s college campuses.

While meeting with them, I learned of a great resource for evangelism. It is the Gospel Appointments website. Be sure to check out this website which details a very simple approach to meeting people and sharing the gospel.

The Gospel Appointments approach was designed to help college students meet and share the gospel with other college students. However, it is not limited to just college students. Check out this resource, set up an appointment, and share the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Gospel Conversation App

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We are releasing a project today that we’ve been working on for quite awhile. The Gospel Conversation app is a resource for all church members who would like to be intentional in their personal evangelism efforts.

When you download this app to your phone, you will have access to different evangelism tools such as 3 Circles, Gospel Lighthouse, Prayer Walking, etc. You will also find a link to the Caskey Center blog where we will continue to post helpful articles.

Two areas of the app are forms. One form, “Gospel Conversations,” is for you to enter information regarding a gospel conversation you may have had. There are two purposes for this: 1) to help New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary celebrate it’s centennial anniversary by engaging in 100,000 gospel conversations, and 2) to foster a certain amount of accountability.

New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary is celebrating it’s centennial anniversary this year. The seminary was started by act of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1917 in order to train pastors in a mission field. New Orleans, LA was not like any other city or state in the early twentieth century. It’s quite unique even today! So, for the 2017-2018 school year, we would like your help with gospel conversations in your mission field.

Two key components of effective evangelism is intentionality and accountability. With this app, we are asking you to intentionally engage in gospel conversations with the people God puts in your life. We want to help you by keeping you accountable. This is not a legalistic type of accountability. Rather you will receive regular encouraging emails (not too regular. We don’t want to be a nuisance!) regarding personal evangelism. I imagine you might want to know how well your fellow Christ-followers are doing in sharing the gospel.

So there it is. The Gospel Conversation App is here for you. Let me challenge you to make an effort each day, each week, to prayerfully look for the divine appointments God has prepared for you. Share the gospel in love. Provide those who are ready with the opportunity to make Jesus their Savior and Lord. Then let us know about your conversations in the app.

You can download the app here.