In my time with other Christians, I often hear, “My church really doesn’t seem to have a burden for the lost. Evangelism almost seems to be nonexistent. The leaders hardly ever mention outreach. Even when they do, nothing tangible happens. What do I do?”
The answer? Get on their team, not on their back.
Pray for them. Remember that your church leaders are your brothers and sisters in Christ. As Christians, we have an obligation to spend more time praying than criticizing. The exhortation to “pray without ceasing” (2 Thessalonians 5:17) should encourage us to talk to God about a burden before we talk to anyone else. He is the only One who can work in ways higher than our ways to increase our churches’ burden for those who have never met the Savior (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Lead by example. Ask yourself the question, “Am I asking my church leaders to do something (evangelize) that I want them to do or am I asking them to do something that I am already doing? Remember the biblical principle of Matthew 7:5: “First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Church leaders often make the mistake of telling their people to evangelize yet not evangelize in their own lives. Lay people can certainly do the same, criticizing someone else for not evangelizing and yet not evangelize, either. It’s more encouraging when a church member asks leadership to do something that he is already doing on his own.
Talk privately and honestly. When a church is strong in evangelism, it starts with the leadership. As the leaders walk, so walks the church. As the same time, church leaders should be respected: “And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves” (2 Thessalonians 5:12-13). Meet with your leadership one-on-one and compliment them for what is going well within the church. Church leaders often hear about what they are doing wrong, but they are often not complimented enough for what they are doing right. In that conversation and with a spirit of love, honestly express your concern for your church’s passion about reaching the lost. Who knows? You might find that your leaders are as burdened about it as you are but frustrated in knowing what to do. Who knows what could result from such a conversation!
Offer to help. Even in larger churches, there are sometimes simply not enough laborers willing to help in evangelism. Christ’s words in Luke 10:2 are applicable in many situations: “Then he said to them. ‘The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.’” Pray about your church’s evangelism role, but also ask God, “What can I do?”
Two of the biggest reasons that believers do not evangelize are that they are afraid and do not know how. Offer to lead a training program! Many are available through EvanTell. Offer to organize an outreach and have others assist you! If there seems to be a lack of ideas concerning what to do in terms of outreach, ask the leaders’ permission to draw together some creative people for some healthy brainstorming. The point is to express your willingness to put time and energy behind your concern.
By starting with these four practical, Scriptural ideas, you “get on their team, not on their back.” In so doing, you even follow the biblical admonition to do unto others, as you would have them to do unto you (Matthew 7:12). When biblically and properly approached, problem solving can do wonders for the Kingdom.