February 2021 Column for Tim Massengale
Three key considerations for making 2021 a year of church growth and evangelism.
1. Focus on target rather than mass evangelism. You will never reach everyone. Mass evangelism includes billboards, newspaper, postal mailouts, radio, advertising, and more. They cast a broad net and often catch nothing. 95% of all new converts are the result of being witnessed to by family, friends, acquaintances, or co-workers. This is also known as ‘relationship’ evangelism. You must win a friend before you can win a soul. So focus on personal witnessing (consider launching the CCC ministry described in Total Church Growth), home Bible study and various special services in which church members bring someone they know, witnessed to or personally invited. Evangelism in the New Testament was uniquely targeted. Jesus reached for the “lost sheep of Israel” (Matt. 15:24); Paul reached out to the Gentiles and Peter targeted the Jews (Gal. 2:7).
2. Focus on visitors to your church services. This is by far your most fertile harvest field. Most people who visit your services are searching for something from God or they would not have come. So make guest follow-up your number one evangelism method. Few receive the Holy Ghost the first time they come, so you must encourage them to return many times. How? A phone call within 24 hours. A letter within three days. A home visit within seven days. Add them to your church mailing list and invite them to upcoming events every month or so. Finally, visit them several more times over the coming year. You will glean more converts from your guests than any other method of evangelism.
3. Let your target determine your evangelism method. If you are reaching for the family and friends of church members, host many special events that provide opportunities for your members to invite those they know. If you are striving to encourage church visitors to return, launch a comprehensive guest follow-up program. If you are looking to expand your Sunday school, start a bus, van or car ministry. If you are wanting home Bible study prospects, look to new converts who have a broad base of unsaved friends (teach a HBS to every new convert and encourage them to invite all they can to the study). If you want your church members to witness more, teach a personal evangelism series on your mid-week Bible study.