Steve Franz: overcoming evangelistic indifference

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Steve Franz is a Georgia Baptist evangelist who has developed a Church Growth Strategy called, “Targeted Evangelism and Discipleship.” He has a Bachelor of Arts in Pastoral Ministry and a Master of Divinity from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He has served as a church planter, a pastor, and evangelist.

Steve is the product of a broken home, but at age 19 committed his life to Christ and explained, “Soon after my conversion the Lord gave me a concern for the lost and I began to engage in various forms of personal evangelism. My passion for biblical integrity, concern for the lost, and a spiritual awakening of the church continues to fuel my desire for revival in America.”

In addition to living out his call to evangelism, Steve teaches Christian Studies courses at several SBC universities and has translated the book Share Jesus Without Fear for LifeWay from English into German. Steve currently serves as vice president for Georgia Baptist Evangelists.

He has been married to his high school sweetheart, Heidi, for 35 years. Steve and Heidi live in Newnan and are members of Macedonia Baptist Church.

Knowing of Steve’s passion for evangelism, The Christian Index interviewed him in order to discover his insights on reaching the lost and making disciples of believers. 

The Christian Index: There are many passages in the Bible that give attention to evangelism and in the last verses of Matthew 9 Jesus was going to all the cities and villages teaching and proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom and in verse 38 is called “the Lord of the harvest.” In John 20:21 He said, “As the Father has sent me, even so send I you.” Yet today our baptisms are in a sharp decline. What can we do to restore our passion for evangelism?

Steve Franz: From my pastoral experience I know that restoring a passion for evangelism starts with the pastor of the local church. If the pastor actively engages in evangelism and promotes personal evangelism among his congregation, that congregation will have a much greater awareness of the need in the lives of the lost and unchurched around them, and at the same time a greater awareness of the benefit of personal evangelism through discipleship, increased number of baptisms, and overall church growth. Those factors will consequently lead to higher participation in personal evangelism and to an overall increase in church health.

The Christian Index: How can the local pastor and the local church give evangelism the priority it deserves?

Steve Franz: The main motivation behind every scheduled event, whether it is a worship service or anything else listed on the church calendar, should be to attract lost individuals and provide them with an opportunity to accept Jesus as their Savior. This, in conjunction with witnessing and outreach-oriented classes, will in turn transform the congregation and motivate them to participate in evangelism on a personal level.

The Christian Index: How can our denomination assist churches in making evangelism a priority?

Steve Franz: As a pastor I learned that you get what you talk about. You just have to talk about it long enough and in the right way. The same is true for our denomination. If evangelism would truly become the dominant focus of our denomination on every level, it would eventually permeate our denomination.

The Christian Index: In your opinion, what will it take for our churches and nation to experience another great awakening?

“If evangelism would truly become the dominant focus of our denomination on every level, it would eventually permeate our denomination,” says evangelist Steve Franz. STEVE FRANZ/Special

Steve Franz: To begin with, a much greater awareness of the agonies of hell. The world around us is laughing about the place and we as Christians completely ignore it. Hell is the most avoided subject in any Christian church today and consequently our members have no concept of the kind of eternity their lost family members, friends, and acquaintances are facing. However, Jesus told us “we need to know the truth, because only the truth will set us free” (John 8:32). Therefore, contrary to Satan’s devices, the truth as it pertains to hell needs to be made known in order to create a burden in the hearts of our people for the lost in our land.

The Christian Index: Are you seeing any signs that God is at work in reviving power in churches today? Could you give a couple of examples?

Steve Franz: I have seen signs in almost every church throughout the Southeast that has utilized my Church Growth Strategy over the last six years. Here are two local examples and one out-of-state example:

Salem Baptist Church in Tifton. We held a Vision Sunday on Sept. 25, 2016 and then concluded a revival on Nov. 2, 2016. By Thanksgiving (my last inquiry) nine families had joined the church and two more were in line to join after Thanksgiving. In addition, by Thanksgiving Pastor Andy Ring had baptized eleven individuals and another baptism service was scheduled. Since then the church purchased an adjacent property and has plans to build a larger sanctuary.

Grace Baptist Church in La Grange. The congregation at Grace collectively identified 63 family units as God-appointed prospects on Vision Sunday and then focused on compassionate outreach to those specific families. We held the Vision Sunday in August 2016 and finished the revival in September 2016. As a result Grace had at least one family join every Sunday from August until Christmas of last year (my last inquiry).

First Baptist Church of Golden Meadow, LA. I held a Vision Sunday there on Jan. 22 with the revival following March 5-8. Pastor Matt Chouest reported that since Vision Sunday he baptized someone every Sunday, bringing those total consecutive Sundays to 27 (as of Aug. 1, then momentarily interrupted by a trip to Israel). To date, the total number of individuals baptized since January is 39. Many of those baptized have brought their entire families to church and now parking has become an issue.

The Christian Index: Many say that II Chronicles 7:14 provides the biblical prescription for revival. In your view what are the keys to revival and a renewed passion for soul winning?

Steve Franz: I absolutely agree with the many who say that II Chronicles 7:14 provides the biblical prescription for revival. However, the problem across America is a widespread indifference among church members of all Christian denominations. This indifference stands in the way of revival and a passion for soul-winning and can only be overcome by focused leadership, missions, and ministries of the local church in conjunction with prayer.”

The Christian Index: What are the biggest challenges to Southern Baptist evangelists today?

Steve Franz: The greatest challenge to Southern Baptist evangelists is the declining number of revivals and crusades. The reason for this decline lies in the relative ineffectiveness of those events due to the current lack of proper preparation. As we all know, revivals were much more effective in past decades because of the intense preparation and prayer that was invested in them. This overall decline in the number of revivals and crusades in turn creates financial hardships in the lives of many evangelists.

The Christian Index: What do you do in your Vision Sundays and to help churches with church growth?

Steve Franz: The reason for the name Vision Sunday – which usually takes place four to six weeks before the revival, crusade, or conference – is to create a vision for compassionate outreach in the hearts of the whole church family, reaching from teenagers to seniors. As part of the Sunday morning sermon each church member identifies specific individuals and families from within the community that they believe God desires to attend that church. During the evening service I teach the church family through a PowerPoint presentation how easy it is to first build the necessary trust in the lives of those individuals and families required to invite them to the revival, crusade, or conference.  

The current church growth methods we utilize usually only produce 1-2 percent return on 100 percent investment because we are looking for a needle in a haystack. That needle represents the specific people God actually desires to attend any given church. However, when Jesus was looking for his 12 he did not knock on 2,000 doors in an effort to find them. He knew exactly who they were and where they were. My church growth strategy is based on that same divine concept.

In short, I believe the Lord has a list with a specific group of people in and around your community whom he desires to attend your church. God knows their burdens and struggles and knows this specific group would best be served and prepared for future ministry at your church. My church growth strategy answers the question of who are these specific people and how do we get them to come? Furthermore, once they make it to the church, they actually know they belong there.” 

To find out more about Steve Franz Ministries go to: http://www.stevefranzministries.com/

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