Sometimes it’s okay to move the goal post.
Better yet, sometimes you SHOULD move it.
Now, before you think for a second that I’m talking about compromising the full-180-degree-repentance, Jesus-is-the-only-Way message, I’m NOT.
Let me explain…
A key strategy for creating an evangelism culture in your church is to set them up for evangelistic “wins.”
Whether or not the culture is actually more resistant to the Gospel now, our church members perceive it to be so … and that poses a real problem when it comes to motivating them to evangelize.
While it is true that for every ten to whom one witnesses one of those will pray to receive Christ right then and there, the people in your church either don’t know that to be true or don’t believe that to be true.
And then for those who DO believe it, they are looking at a 90 percent rejection rate they’d rather not have to endure.
In the meantime, we are still challenging them to “win their friends and loved ones to Christ.”
That is still the goal.
And well it should be.
(I’ve preached this many times myself. Still do.)
But making that the ultimate and final goal is a mistake, because you end up with LESS evangelistic involvement from your church members.
But what I’m seeing is that you can STILL GET THERE, but you get there by setting a different goal.
Assuming the Holy Spirit’s involvement and assuming the sharing of a biblically sound Gospel, winning people to Christ is, to some degree, a numbers game.
I know that sounds unspiritual, but the numbers don’t lie.
The more gospel conversations we have, the more will come to Christ.
It’s true that “you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” And it’s also true that as soon as you take ONE SHOT, probabilities start to kick in.
What we know is, about 1 in 10 people who live in the average community in the South will respond to the Gospel when it’s clearly presented and given the opportunity to respond.
For instance, one Georgia church had 3100 attend a wild game dinner, shared the Gospel and 472 professed Christ.
For the Harvest Atlanta Event at Infinite Energy Center in 2016, roughly 24,000 people were counted in attendance. Assuming an average 2X rate of attendance per person, around 10,000-12,000 “uniques” could be counted over the weekend.
There were just under 1000 who professed Christ at that event.
There’s that 10 percent “low hanging fruit” again.
You say, “Yeah, but that’s an evangelistic EVENT.”
Given. But check this out …
For the street evangelism effort leading up to Harvest Atlanta throughout metro-Atlanta, witnesses reported that about 1 in 10 converted to Christ when engaging in a Gospel conversation, cold.
It’s a stat that just holds.
So, let’s realize that while the field isn’t exactly “white unto harvest,” big sections of it are.
And with repeated, even simple, effort, you can predictably start bringin’ in some sheaves.
Lifeway Research reports that from 1,000 Americans polled, when asked “How often to you think about where you would go if you were to die today?” Response fell out this way:
Forty-three percent say they never think about that question at all.
But twenty percent said that they think about that question every single day.
So it just makes sense that about HALF of that twenty percent would be willing RIGHT NOW to convert to Christ if they hear and understand the gospel.
That said, what if the challenge and the goal in witnessing was to simply have more Gospel conversations?
Which of the following is more likely to be taken on by your church members as a do-able challenge?
- Win 10 of your friends and neighbors to Christ in the next 10 months.
– OR –
- Have 10 gospel conversations in the next 10 weeks.
The first challenge will likely get zero involvement from the vast majority of your members according to all the research regarding Gospel intent of American church-goers.
However, the second challenge will not only be received as do-able (especially if you offer training), it may even seem underwhelming to many. Overall, it would feel MUCH more attainable as a goal.
Not only that, but the second challenge being acted upon would likely trounce the results of #1 were it to work – meaning, more than ten people could be won to Christ in a year by taking action on #2, assuming the conversion probabilities hold. (This is especially true when you consider that many to whom our members would witness would be “warm” contacts, i.e. people they already know and know them.)
So let’s move the goal.
Challenge the people you lead to focus on THIS as a worthy goal: having Gospel conversations.
And let just having the conversation be considered a “win” in your church. Celebrate them!
It’s a 4-step process:
- Train your members on having Gospel conversations. (You can do this in one service or over the course of three weeks.)
- Challenge them to set a goal of how many they will have over a set period of time.
- Create a mechanism for them to report every Gospel conversation.
- Celebrate every one every way you can.
Do this and watch more come to Christ this year through the personal evangelism efforts of your church members.
This column originally appeared at evangelismga.com.