“Put effort into a one-off evangelistic preaching event in your church and people will bring people.”
Many churches recognize the need for preaching (as well as everything else), to be targeted if unchurched folk are going to be interested and understand. So periodically we might have an evangelistic “guest service” and encourage our people to bring people. Some will. But churches often struggle with why the majority won’t bring anyone. Perhaps the non-guest-bringers are just not as committed? Or perhaps it is something else altogether. Could it be:
1. They don’t have any meaningful contact with non-Christians. This is sadly too common. Too many church folks either feel woefully incapable of meaningful spiritual conversation or they are so busy with church activities that they have no time for meaningful relationships with anyone else.
2. They are not motivated to see others get saved. This points to issues in their spiritual maturity, and the answer will not be more arm-twisting and pressure tactics. Instead the church leaders need to think through actually helping them grow spiritually.
Perhaps the majority of people don’t bring people because they are very committed to reaching their friends, family, colleagues and neighbours! Bringing a contact into church for an evangelistic event is a big step of trust:
3. Perhaps they don’t trust the church or event. Here are some questions your church folk may be asking:
A. Do I trust the church to give my contact a good exposure to Christianity? This means more than just the preaching. Will they feel welcome? Will people talk to them? Will it feel awkward? Will there be unnecessary obstacles to their coming to faith in Christ?
B. Do I trust the speaker? Will the speaker be warm-hearted or fiery and offensive? Will the speaker offer good news, or just a cringe-worthy critique of society today? Will the speaker speak in Christian-ese and preach to the choir, or will the speaker be relevant, engaging, interesting, clear? Which version of the gospel will be preached? How will the speaker end the message – strong appeal, awkward appeal, gentle landing? If it is a guest speaker, do I even know him or his plan?
C. Do I trust the following weeks? Huh? People look beyond the evangelistic event? Some do. I do. What if my colleague enjoys it and wants to come back, will church continue to be a good exposure to Christianity for them? Who is speaking next week? What will that experience be like?
D. Do I trust the discipleship ministry of the church? Let’s say my colleague becomes a follower of Christ, wonderful! Now, will the church be able to effectively disciple them?
Simply having an evangelistic event and pressuring folk to bring people is not enough. As my good friend puts it, “I don’t want seeker-sensitive, but I do want seeker-safe.” What has your church done to make this kind of outreach more effective? What do you wish your church would do?