Last week, I wrote a post on “Why Churches Don’t Disciple Well.” I’ve more recently been thinking about evangelism in the local church. Though I’ve written a lot about evangelism on this blog (just do a search for “evangelism”), I’ve not written specifically about why I believe churches don’t do evangelism well. Here are my thoughts:
- Many church members don’t really believe people are lost. For years, I’ve had students do anonymous surveys of their churches—and it’s common that many regular attenders believe all good people will go to heaven. You don’t have to do much evangelism when that’s your theology.
- Many pastors don’t do evangelism beyond the pulpit. To be clear, I believe the pulpit ought to be a primary place from which we preach the gospel. Pastors who never share the gospel outside the pulpit, though, won’t lead their churches to be evangelistic.
- Churches don’t provide much evangelism training. Many churches offer no training. Others provide some, but they’re seldom successful at enlisting a high percentage of church members to participate. Often, only folks already doing evangelism show up for more training.
- Many believers have lost their wonder over Jesus. The fascination and zeal that led us to evangelize as new believers long ago burned out. Nothing compels us to talk about Jesus.
- We’ve made the church a place to retreat from the world—not a place to be renewed to reach the world. Our churches have become our hiding places, and it’s from our safety there that we too often only condemn the world. If evangelism happens, it happens only because someone visited our church and heard the gospel.
- Many church members have no real relationships with non-believers. I often ask believers—beginning with church leaders—to name 10 non-believers with whom they’re close enough they could share the gospel with them today—and it’s very common that church folks cannot name 10 people.
- In fact, many believers seem to be afraid of non-believers. That is, we worry about their influencing us wrongly or harming our witness. And, to be fair, I fully affirm that we must be wise in how we reach out to non-believers. The problem, though, is not lost people; it’s that we haven’t discipled people wisely enough to help them navigate these waters well.
- Some of us, if we’re honest, just don’t care enough. We would stand strongly on biblical teachings about the lostness of humanity and salvation through Christ alone. In fact, we’d fight to protect those teachings—but we still do nothing with them. That’s a lack of concern.
What would you add to this list?