Article by Teresa Chang
Our church was birthed out of a Korean church’s college group ministry, and as such, all of our church leaders had a heart to reach the university campus nearby. We intentionally rented our church space right next to the university so that we could open our doors to college students. We would offer them free food, a place to study or hang out, and even offered emergency prayers during final exams! Many of our church leaders bought their first homes next to the campus, so that students could come find a place to hang out and enjoy meals and fellowship. A value for reaching the lost on our university campus quickly became a part of our church’s culture.
Part of your responsibility as a senior church leader is to introduce your people to God’s heart for the lost. You will see amazing results when you can incorporate evangelism into the culture of your church. In this section, we will look at a few ways you can begin to ignite people’s hearts for evangelism and build this kind of culture in your church.
John Wimber was convinced that the healthiest churches were grown from the inside out. You can do this by determining what you as a church really care about. What are your values? What things drive you?
Culture is the shared values, priorities and practices, along with the traditions, symbols and expressions, that unite a community. Your culture reflects who your church is at a deep level. As you clarify your values, you establish your priorities—things that are more or less important for how you spend your time, energy and resources. Out of your priorities emerge your everyday practices (things you naturally do on a day-to-day basis). Each of these individual “steps” works to establish a culture of evangelism in your church.
Here are a few other things to consider as you build your church culture:
1. Be the change you want to see.
As a leader, you need to be the first person to change. If you want to build a culture of evangelism in your church, take steps to make evangelism an active part of your routine. Give yourself an easy goal, such as, “I will share my faith with one person a week.” That will change your life as a pastor!
Consider making weekly evangelism a requirement for the people on your team, both your elders and your staff. You could approach it like this: “Let’s make a commitment. If this is really what we care about, let’s see if we can do it.”
2. Make evangelism a priority in your church.
A soul that dies without Jesus is a soul that is eternally separated from Him. As that understanding begins to grip your church at an intense level, your members will be compelled to go out and speak to people about Jesus’ love.
Once you have perceived God’s love for people, translate that understanding into actual lifestyle priorities. Do you have groups that study and practice evangelism? Do you give altar calls at your church? You don’t have to do one every week, but do it regularly enough that people know they can bring their unsaved friends to church, and they will have an opportunity to hear the gospel and receive Jesus.
3. Create an environment of hospitality for visitors.
Not everything that happens in a prophetic environment will make sense to visitors. Are your services geared to include non-believers? Begin to bridge the divide in very practical ways. For example, you could include a simple statement in your bulletin: “We value certain things in our church, and we invite you to do whatever is comfortable for you.” However you choose to do it, try to create an environment of hospitality for non-Christians and new Christians alike.
Evangelism is such a privilege. We get to show the world that God loves them beyond anything they thought possible.