A wise leader knows that if he wants his people to be consistent in evangelism, then he must lead by example. When that’s not happening, leaders often ask me, “How can I change?” I stress four things.
Brokenness—Before we can be the leaders we’d like, we need to admit our shortcomings. That means sincere brokenness in which we say to the Lord , “I am not demonstrating concern for where non-Christians spend their eternity.” This doesn’t mean you always shed tears, but it should mean we have broken and contrite hearts knowing that God “gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).
Prayer—Brokenness must be accompanied by prayer. As referred to above, we are not trying to change ourselves; we’re asking God to change us. But by stressing prayer, we recognize that anything that happens in evangelism from start to finish is of the Lord. Christ reminded us, “Without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
So, in addition to asking for a changed heart, we also ask God to open doors in evangelism, develop our skills, and use us to reach the loss. Think of everything needed in evangelism—boldness, proper responses, patience, etc.—and ask Him for it.
We are not trying to change and grow in evangelism with the attitude,” I can do this,” but instead with the attitude, “Only through You can this can be done.” Dependency upon the Lord from start to finish is absolutely essential.
Training—leaders are a lot like the people they speak in front of every week. They too need training in evangelism. Just because a person went to Bible college or seminary and perhaps knows the Scriptures better than anyone in the congregation, that does not mean they know how to evangelize or have even received training in that area. Sadly, many Bible schools and seminaries no longer offer courses in evangelism.
I know of a group of 30 men who graduated from a seminary and were going out as church planters. They were asked two questions: (1) Could you state the gospel in one sentence? And (2) Do you know how to take the Scriptures and lead someone to Christ. Although I myself find it hard to believe, every single one of the 30 answered “No” to both questions.
When you admit you need training, you also say something in a powerful way to your people. Your example shouts, “If I find training beneficial, so might you.”
Enthusiasm—This item is often missed in leadership discussions pertaining to evangelism. Leaders need not only to lead, they need to lead with enthusiasm. It’s one thing to say, “I want see unbelievers come to Christ” and say it in a very mellow and stoic way. It’s another thing to say “I want to see unbelievers come to Christ” and do it with a great deal of excitement.
Think of any area or skill where you wanted to see yourself grow or develop. Then think of the ones who helped you the most in those areas. They were ones characterized by enthusiasm. The same thing is true as you lead in evangelism—it must be done with enthusiasm.
Will the changes happen overnight? Of course not! Hardly anything changes that fast. But I can assure you that week by week and month by month you’re going to see dramatic changes. Those changes will affect three people—you personally, non-Christians whom you are meeting, and the people you’re attempting to lead.