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Home > Issues > 2012 > Fall > Practicing What I Preach

When pastors think about evangelism, we tend to assume our primary role is to equip others to evangelize, or to evangelize from the pulpit. While those roles are important, I knew I needed to do more.

Paul told Timothy, "Do the work of an evangelist" (2 Tim. 4:5). Paul is saying that we leaders need to engage unbelievers, and I am challenged by that mandate. Sure, I do that from the pulpit, but all church members have incredible opportunities to share the gospel in their community and workplace. I have those opportunities, too—but I had to do something to find them and to connect with folks far from God.

Taking to the streets

So what do I do? I hit the streets. I usually go over to a local community college or to a nearby train station. I just stand in an open area and hand out a little tract I wrote called "My Story." And that's exactly what it is: the account of God's good work in my life (see sidebar). It's printed on a small card that resembles a birthday invitation. It's non-threatening, unlike a lot of tracts which have flames and dark colors on the cover.

I started doing this because I was saddened by our church's lack of adult conversions. Then I took a look in the mirror. As the senior pastor, if I'm not sharing my faith, I shouldn't be surprised when our church isn't.

My cell phone alarm goes off at 10:02 to remind me of Luke 10:2.

It's hard to say how effective I've been, but almost everyone takes the tract when I offer it to them. A number of people respond positively. Even Christians have contacted me, telling me that it encouraged them. I have also benefited personally from this practice. Philemon 1:6 says that sharing our faith strengthens our faith. Faith is like a muscle. The more you work it, the stronger it gets.

When I go to a restaurant, I sometimes say to the server, "I'm going to pray before I eat. Is there anything I can pray about for you?" Few say no.

I did this the other day and was able to pray for the waitress's kids. My boldness has increased as I have continued to evangelize and pray for people. I have also become more courageous in the pulpit.

Getting others involved

I challenged my congregation to do what I have been doing. I tell them the first step is to pray. Every morning my cell phone alarm is set to go off at 10:02. Why that time? To remind me of Luke 10:2: "Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." When the alarm rings, I pause and pray that the Lord will send laborers into the field.

I've shared this idea with my congregation, and several others have joined me.

The second step is repentance. Many churches have failed to make evangelism a priority. We need to repent for our apathy, and ask ourselves how much we care about lost souls.

The last step involves someone "pulling the fire alarm." Someone needs to recognize there is a problem and alert people. On Mondays, I send an e-mail to a few influencers in my congregation.

The email is called "Monday Is for Mission," and it's a direct, honest memo designed to rouse members to take action. A recent email started, "Our church has a problem …" It was my way of pulling that alarm, hoping my congregants would realize we need to face the problem of the lack of conversions.

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Related Topics:AuthenticityEvangelismLeadership
From Issue:Ministry's Core, Fall 2012 | Posted: December 31, 2012

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January 16, 2013  11:50am

This is very encouraging to hear of a Pastor seeing where he needs to make a great change. Not many will admit beyond the money they get. They have left their 1st Love. Was not Jesus the perfect example for us? He truly was. God Bless you and your congregation.

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Jason Phillips

January 11, 2013  1:43pm

I love the pastor's initial comments about leading by example. There are far too many pastors who are very capable teachers and they can teach someone how to tie their shoes but can't tie their own shoes. However, what Pastor Kelly shared is not how people live. Professional clergy live in a very protective bubble and I think our goal is to live outside of that. To be in relationship with others, to share our lives with others, and in doing so teach them what it means to be a disciple. A tract doesn't naturally lead to discipleship but conversations and shared lives with friends does. This way of evangelism is free and easy but much more time consuming than handing out tracts. I'm never uncomfortable sharing Jesus with others; in fact, it's life giving. The beauty of going and sharing with our friends is that we can actually know the fruit of our efforts. We can know what barriers others have in accepting the Gospel. We can participate with God in His pursuit of others.

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Rick C

January 09, 2013  10:43am

Kelly, cell alarm is set! Thanks for the idea and encouragement!

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Daniel NYC

January 07, 2013  9:24pm

I find the comments and opinions here are all important in how to be more active in sharing the Good News. Being opened to new innovative ideas in how to be more effective in witnessing to the lost souls. We do agree that we wont agree on all ideas but the ultimate goal being lead by the Holy Spirit and utilizing the scriptures like a surgeon uses his cutting tool. To penetrate the heart of the lost, is what I can take from you God fearing folks. May God continue pouring out his wisdom and innovative ideas on us all his children. To bring does that know him not. God's grace be with us all. And God save America.

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Rick Dalbey

January 07, 2013  1:34pm

Hal, every church involved informed their members and then encouraged word of mouth. Here is their website. http://www.northwestgreatawakening.org/ Dan Mickelson and Denny Cline are the two pastors who have been leading the efforts. They have no agenda or denomination beyond bringing people to faith to Jesus. We did this again in June in my Portland suburb of Beaverton and scores were saved again and I had the privilege of leading 3 people to Jesus in a shopping mall. It started out as a Vineyard Church and Foursquare effort (2 pastors who were friends who had a burden for evangelism) and became a movement in Oregon. San Francisco (my old stomping grounds) is much like Portland. What we discovered is the power of the gospel. Instead of trying to dress it up or manipulate people, we have relied on the power of the Holy Spirit and the power of the word of God. You can contact me at rickd@freerange-adv.com.

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