Gary McIntosh is president of the Church Growth Network and professor of Christian ministry and leadership at Talbot School of Theology. From 2006-2010, McIntosh led a research project interviewing more than 1,000 people who had joined churches in the previous two years. His desire was to discover how people are coming to faith in Christ today.
In his book, “Growing God’s Church,” he cites older research that showed approximately 6 percent of people who had come to Jesus at that time mentioned that a pastor was instrumental in their decision. Today that number is raised to 17 percent. Nearly one in five people today mention that a pastor was the key person whom God used to bring them to faith.
The bottom line is that pastors matter when it comes to evangelism.
Since pastors matter in evangelism what should we do?
First, we should pray for pastors. Being pastor of a church today is hard work. It is not hard work like cutting tobacco or mining coal, but there is a spiritual battle involved in leading a church into Jesus’ mission that is not found in those other occupations. Since our pastors are facing great battles (1 Peter 5:8) we should pray for them. We should pray that they will be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). We should also pray that they will do the work of an evangelist (2 Timothy 4:5b). And we should pray that they will have wisdom (James 1:5) to lead us, the congregation, and equip us to be faithful winners of souls.
Second, not only should we pray for our pastors, but we should also encourage them in their evangelistic efforts and leadership. Hebrews 10:24 instructs followers of Jesus, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works” (KJV). We must consider the important leadership function of a local church pastor and encourage them when we see them taking the lead in winning souls to Christ.
Third, we should ask these pastors to train us to witness to the lost. According to Ephesians 4:11-12, the pastor is a gift of God to the local church to equip us, the body of believers, for the work of ministry. Since evangelism is the work of ministry, we need to be equipped. Give your pastor a great surprise and ask him to equip you to reach the lost for Christ.
Fourth, we should follow them as they lead us to engage the community with the gospel. There will be some in the church who complain that a pastor is spending too much time concerned for lost people. These complaints make ministry more difficult for a pastor. You will be a blessing to your pastor when you follow his leadership to organize programs, ministries and events to reach those who are far from God.
Fifth, we should thank God for evangelistic pastors and pray that their kind will increase. Deuteronomy 1:11 is a prayer of multiplication prayed over the people of God. The text, recording the words of Moses, reads, “The Lord God of your fathers make you a thousand times so many more as ye are, and bless you, as he hath promised you!” We should pray for the multiplication of soul-winning pastors. We are blessed in the state of Kentucky to have many great evangelistic pastors, but we need more. Join me in thanking God for those we have and pray that God will raise up many more throughout the commonwealth.
Thom Rainer, in a recent blogpost on the cost of being an evangelistic leader (thomrainer.com, Seven Costs to Being an Evangelistic Leader in Your Church), says, “Though it is not an excuse, we must acknowledge that the pastors and other church leaders pay a high cost when they become intentionally evangelistic. Sometimes it just seems easier to keep our mouths shut about the gospel.”
No doubt there is a great cost paid by our greatest church leaders for them to be intentionally evangelistic. There is a greater cost paid if they are not evangelistic. Let us be the kind of church members who place a premium on evangelistic leaders, join them in their work, and share the cost of winning souls to Christ. If you need help leading your church to be more intentionally evangelistic, please contact the Evangelism, Church Planting and Campus Ministry Team of the Kentucky Baptist Convention at firstname.lastname@example.org.