Most people don’t invite others to church. Despite viewing their faith as one of the most important aspects of their lives, and despite believing that Christ has specifically commanded them to go into the whole world to tell others about him (Mark 16:15), most Christians still do not share their faith with others. A recent study by LifeWay Research found that eighty percent of churchgoers say they have personal responsibility to share their faith, but sixty-one percent haven’t shared the gospel with anyone in the past six months.
How can churches better equip, train and encourage their people to go out and share their faith? Although the list is no doubt extensive, here are five things that churches can do to get people talking about Christ:
- Preach on Evangelism. Whether it is a standalone message, or an entire eight part series on evangelism, make a deliberate effort to regularly preach on the christian’s responsibility to share their faith. Many christians do not share their faith because they are rarely challenged to do so. If nothing else, simply preach through the Bible, and this theme of personal evangelism will come up often.
- Teach on Evangelism. Multiple times a year offer courses on evangelism. Many people don’t share their faith because they are afraid to, or think they just don’t know how. It’s older, but Evangelism Explosion, is still one of the best ways to train people in sharing their faith. EE provides them with an outline they memorize and even sends them out a few times to share that outline with others. Yes, it is scripted, but learning that script helps people share their faith, as they feel like they now have something to say. Yes, having people share their faith with people they don’t know, like EE does, can come across as “cold-calling.” Many people, however, come to believe that if they can share their faith with someone they don’t know at all, that is much easier to share their faith with someone they know and care about.
- Offer Events that Make Invitation Easy. Many people would come to church if they were invited, but even more would come to an event like a concert, Easter or Christmas production, movies in the city park, or some other event that wasn’t a traditional church service. Having regular events that are less “churchy” provide additional opportunities for people to invite their friends. Recent studies by the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism have shown that 61% of non-churched people would either be like “likely” or “extremely likely” to attend a church sponsored event that helps makes the neighborhood safer. Fifty-one percent would attend a community service project sponsored by a church, 46% would attend a sports or exercise program. This compares with 34% who would attend a worship service and 26% a small group for those curious about God. Non-service events are a great way to introduce people to the church.
- Provide a Trigger. I actually go to the gym or out for a run often. Here is what I have realized though, I am much more likely to exercise when I give myself a reminder. If I lay out my gym clothes the night before, and put my sneakers by the door, I am more likely to actually go for that morning run. The same is true for sharing our faith, more people do it if we provide a trigger to remind them. This means designing and printing invite cards to special events. This means providing events, pictures and videos on social media that people can share. This means offering a new sermon series from time-to-time to give people the opportunity to invite their friends to something new. Give people reminders, resources and opportunities to share their faith.
- Make it Part of the Culture. Preach it, teach it, offer events, provide triggers for people, but also model it, share about it in the new members class, put it on banners and displays, highlight stories of people who are doing it, share testimonies of people coming to faith because people reached out, have prayer meetings focusing on missions and evangelism, write it into the mission statement of the church, help people see that evangelism is not just something they do as Christians but that evangelism should be part of their identity, ask for volunteers with community outreaches, etc.
These are five things that churches can do to encourage people to share their faith and invite others to church. What else can be added to this list?