If you’re like me you’ve probably always felt weird about the word evangelism or the idea of sharing Jesus with people, or inviting people to church. And if you’re a millennial, you might very well think its’ wrong to evangelize! In a recent report released by the Barna group, it stated that nearly half of millennial Christians say they think evangelism is wrong. I do have a suspicion though, that a lot of the times we make evangelism more complicated that it needs to be.
I am one of the pastors at the Red Bluff Vineyard in northern California. Over the past two and a half years we’ve seen a real increase in Sunday morning attendance. We’ve gone from around 30 people to around 400 people between two services.
Now I’m very aware that "bums in seats" are not the only growth metric, especially since our goal is to make disciples, not attendees. But amongst those people who’ve started coming to our church, we’ve seen real transformation in them coming to know Jesus for the first time and their lives being changed. I thought I’d share some things we’ve been intentional about over the past two years when it comes to evangelism.
1. It starts from the Vision and Mission. Our vision is to see the world transformed starting here in Red Bluff, and our mission is to Know Jesus and make Him known. This means that embedded in our vision and mission is a desire to see people who don’t know Jesus come to know Him and be transformed through encountering Him. Everything we do as a church is revolved around this and impacts everything we do.
2. Have fun events that have nothing to do with church! We have fun, open events that have nothing to do with “church” stuff! This past St. Patrick's Day, we had a St Patty’s bowling day at the local bowling lanes. We had a big pot luck picnic at the local park at the end of last year when the blazing summer of northern California had cooled off. Both these events were both well attended. Many people invited their friends and family who didn't normally come to church, but were introduced to a bunch of people who do, and we showed them that we aren't that weird after all!
3. Invitations matter! We are always encouraging people to invite people to church on a Sunday morning. Not because that’s the only place they come to know Jesus, but because it’s a GREAT place for people to come to know Jesus for the first time! We always make sure we have invite cards to Sunday services. This is especially important for bigger services like Easter and Christmas! You’d be surprised to find out how many people would come to a church service if they were just invited. Personal invites are the most powerful invites! One of the most introverted but relational people who comes to our church is responsible for at least twenty people becoming a part of our church community.
4. This means Sunday services matter! When last did you look at your service through the eyes of someone who has never stepped foot inside a church before? Each week our Sunday Moring Planning Team meets to discuss the upcoming service and each time we have a new guest in mind. We’ve started welcoming guests at the beginning of the service and briefly explain what they can expect. Then we have two hosts come up between music and preaching who welcome guests again and invite them to fill out a connect card and visit us in the connect corner where they’ll be welcomed by a Pastor who hands them a gift bag.
These are but a few things we do and we definitely don’t do them perfectly, but we try to do them well!
Finally, there’s a good chance you could be thinking, "Man, I’m just not that type of person! I struggle to tell people about my church never mind sharing the life changing message of the gospel!" In his book, ‘Power Evangelism’, John Wimber stated, “We turn to the Holy Spirit in our evangelistic efforts and consciously cooperate with his anointing, gifting and leading” (pg. 90). The way we partner with the Holy Spirit is going to look different every where we go and it’s definitely going to look slightly different than it did 30 years ago. How we approach evangelism is also going to look different than what we may be used to. Intentionality is an important part of evangelism and sharing the gospel.
Which of these methods are you going to try an implement in your church this week?