December 12, 2017

Creating a Culture of Evangelism

Mike Sproul

The culture of a New Testament church must focus on evangelism and discipleship. Every organization, including churches, has an often nonverbalized set of cultural values. I fear many churches have cultures that encourage many good Christian activities but do not have a culture that encourages evangelism. A culture of evangelism and discipleship is one that must be nurtured and developed on a regular basis as core to the life of the church. It cannot simply be talked about. People must see leaders involved and sacrificing for evangelism. A church must think strategically about this culture. That means that at times it does things to re-enforce its culture even if it doesn’t achieve immediate results. We believe if we honor God’s commands concerning evangelism being core, God will honor us with souls. Tri-City Baptist Church does not have all the answers to being a “disciple-making” church; however, here are a few activities that we do to reach our community.

We spend energy regularly going door-to-door in our neighborhoods. I know the debates about that form of outreach, but we have families in our church whose first contact was a simple knock at their door. But almost more importantly, this activity re-enforces the culture we want to create.

The Phoenix metro area has 3.7 million people, and the average stay in our community is less than five years. Our culture is young, ethnically diverse, and very mobile. Even those who stay in the Valley sell their home and buy another every thirty months. Therefore, we encourage our people to look at their circle of influence for their primary focus in evangelism.

We ask them to start praying for one-to-ten people who are lost. We then give them ideas to create friendships with neighbors and coworkers so they can present Christ. (Members turn in these names to church leaders, and we pray for these friends both individually and as a leadership team.)

We attempt to practice the “7 Touches—3 Hearings” rule. We practice creating friendships, “touches,” that give us the “right” to be heard. We encourage our people to “touch” those around them by babysitting, hospitality for a meal, mowing a yard, etc.

We then give our people many different places where their friends can hear. We let our people know that we offer services to those neighbors with a need. We offer family counseling, Christian financial management classes, as well as Biblical child-rearing classes. We train our members through various classes to be soul winners and disciplers in their home or at a standard visitation time. We announce ahead of time services that will be completely devoted to the presentation of salvation. Rarely is there a morning message in which the gospel is not presented. We have yearly evangelistic meetings. We have an annual Missions Conference, which, while not aimed at the lost, does remind our people that we are culturally evangelistic and encourages them to tithe to missions. Again, all of these activities are about creating a culture.

As the senior pastor, I have almost every member of our church on my e-mail list. Every time I hear a story of someone coming to Christ, I ask for a written one-paragraph summary, and I send it to our whole church so we can rejoice and begin to pray for the new believer and discipler—an action that, again, helps create a culture of evangelism. Currently we have about twenty new believers in one-on-one discipleship.

Our Wednesday night service is also geared to evangelism. We have an inexpensive buffet meal from 5:45 pm. to 6:15 p.m. At 6:15 we open our nursery and have children’s choir. Some of our younger couples who want their children in bed earlier will attend one of our Care Groups; many others will spend the next hour visiting. Our teens and college young people will often go out at this time and pass out invitations to church. At 7:15 other Care Groups meet for those returning from visitation, and our teens have their regular Bible study. The evening concludes at about 8:30; younger couples can have their children home by 7:30 by attending an earlier Care Group but can also take a visit that they can make at their convenience during the week.

We also visit every person who visits our church on Sunday morning that Sunday night. Statistics say more people are home on Sunday night than any other night of the week. We have some of our best teams out on Sunday night, and we have seen many souls saved on that night’s visitation. That way at our Monday morning church staff meeting we know who needs to follow up on what visitor and we can begin to pray.

It’s all about re-enforcing a culture that evangelism and discipleship are core to who we are. It’s all about our mission: to Exalt the Triune God, Edify Believers, and Evangelize the World.

Mike Sproul pastors Tri-City Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona.

(Originally published in FrontLine • May / June 2006. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)

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