When it comes to evangelism, it has been said, “As goes the pastor so goes the church.” In other words, if we as church leaders want to check the evangelistic temperature of the church we lead, then we need only stick the thermometer in our own mouth. If the proverbial evangelistic thermometer were placed in the mouth of Pastor Toby DeHay of Concord Missionary Baptist Church in White Plains, it would read “Evangelistic Leader”.
When Pastor DeHay came to serve the rural Hopkins county congregation on June 1, 2013, about 40 people were attending the Sunday morning service. Today, they average 80 in worship attendance, and they have baptized 29 people during his time as pastor, which means the church has averaged baptizing one person for every eight worshippers in attendance for each of the past three years.
These baptism numbers mean that the church is baptizing at a very healthy 8:1 ratio of average worship attendance per baptism over a three-year period. A 10:1 worshiper to baptism ratio is considered by many to be an evangelistic church, and Concord Missionary is doing better than that under DeHay’s leadership.
I asked Pastor DeHay why churches need pastors to lead the way in evangelism. He replied: “First, because of their calling.”
Pastor DeHay said, “The local pastor needs to remember their calling from Ephesians 4:11-12. He is supposed to be equipping the saints for the work of ministry to build up the body of Christ. Equipping cannot be preaching and teaching only, but serving and modeling as well.”
A second reason he gave was that the pastor needs to be an example to the flock. DeHay said, “I try to tell people to go through a new line at Wal-Mart and share with a new cashier. Eat at the same restaurant, and be the guy who asks each waitress if you could pray for them and tries to share the Good News in some way.”
These are things Pastor DeHay does himself so when he asks the congregation to do it, they know they are following their pastors’ example.
A third reason he mentioned was because passion for soul-winning is better caught than taught. Pastor DeHay shares, “When people listen to a pastor who gets fired up in his preaching only, they might say, ‘Well, he’s a pretty good preacher.’ When they listen to a pastor who gets fired up about evangelism in his preaching AND in his life, they might say, ‘His preaching is pretty good, but his life shows he has a passion to see people come to Christ as their Lord and Savior.’ This passion reflected in preaching the Word and providing practical examples is what people will follow.”
Sharing from personal experience, Pastor DeHay added, “I had a lady say of me once, ‘You’re not the best preacher I’ve ever heard and you’re not the worst, but I know for a fact that you love lost people!’ It may have been a back-handed compliment, but I’d rather be known for my love of sharing my faith with the lost and providing a good example, than for how I’ve provided the right amount of illustrations, poems and points, or how I rate compared to Pastor X.”
If the 2,500 Kentucky Baptist churches and church plants are to become evangelistic churches, it will start with evangelistic pastors leading the way. Join me in praying for the called and gifted men of God who lead Kentucky Baptist churches as they also seek God’s power and direction to lead the way evangelistically.
Would you consider setting an alarm on your phone, computer, watch, or other device to pray daily at 10:02 a.m.? If so, please pray in accordance with Luke 10:2, where Jesus said, “Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest” (KJV). Please pray that God will help 2,500 Kentucky Baptist pastors, church planters, directors of missions, and state leaders be evangelistic leaders to help our churches reach more people for Christ. (WR)