Monday, July 10, 2017

Evangelism in Small Church America: Exclusive Research

“Pastor, no one in your church will share the gospel more than you.” This is a statement we regularly make when talking with pastors who serve in smaller-membership churches. The importance of intentional personal evangelism by the pastor cannot be overstated. Churches of all sizes can struggle with keeping evangelism the focus, but small churches often have significant hurdles to overcome.

Small churches tend to be more relationally focused—one of their most positive characteristics. In his book Taking Your Church to the Next Level, Gary McIntosh writes, “The core values of smaller churches cause them to look for a highly relational pastor who serves church members by listening to their concerns, ministering to their personal needs and following their lead.” But, if pastors are not careful, this relational focus can become a hindrance to advancing the kingdom vision of making disciples who make disciples. Often, small-church members are so inwardly focused, they are unable—or unwilling—to connect with their community and share the gospel.

To counter this tendency, the pastor must lead the way by being intentional in personal evangelism to focus the congregation on the community. Modeling a lifestyle of evangelism, sharing it publicly from the pulpit and inviting others into evangelism are keys to helping small churches thrive in sharing the gospel.

A recent study on the personal evangelism practices of small-church pastors was conducted by the Caskey Center for Church Excellence and the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism, in partnership with a dozen denominations (see “Methodology” section at the end of the article). LifeWay Research, which conducted the survey, contacted 1,500 pastors. The calling list was a random sample, stratified by church membership and denominational groups, drawn from a list of all evangelical and black Protestant churches. The results provide a snapshot of the personal evangelism habits of small-church pastors—those pastoring churches of 200 or fewer attendees. A comparison between the top 20 percent of churches that retained new commitments with the bottom 50 percent of churches reveal the key to reaching a community with the gospel through intentionality in personal evangelism, creating a climate of evangelism within the church and leading members to make disciples. Read More

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