Archive for the ‘Church Revitalization’ Category

In 1984, the year I was saved, churches had a Pastor of Evangelism and staff. He helped keep the church focused on the Great “Missionary” Commission. Then came the day when churches did away with the Staff Evangelism person and team. This was the trend in early 2000 – 2001, 2002, 2003-.

The decrease in salvations and baptisms recorded the following years soon followed among leading churches, both were already on a downhill slope. The decision to eliminate a key role in the local church accelerated the decline.

If a church wants to impact its community, then the focus on prayer and evangelism are foremost.

And the bigger a church gets the more evangelistic it must become, or face becoming a memorial in the community.

Is it time for churches to retool their staffs and get back to prayer for the lost, and evangelism as the major emphasis. The battle for the souls of men and women continues as many churches have sat unengaged on the sidelines.

In the book of Acts, we learn that the apostle Paul carried the Gospel to Rome, the capital city of the world of his day, by doing intentional evangelism in the metropolises, towns of his day. Then he gathered believers into house church groups.

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I have experience as an Evangelism Pastor, National Coordinator, Training, Author, and Consultant, (ten plus years) working on a church staff, denominational staff, and parachurch evangelistic association. I have taught, mentored pastors and church leaders how to start and have a witnessing conversation. I have led mission teams into the inner cities of America to partner with inner city churches to engage their communities with the gospel. I have taught and continue to teach classes on evangelism and dynamics, principles, and methods of evangelism.

But, sadly, over the last ten years, and especially the last six years, I have seen a major departure of the mandate for evangelism Jesus Christ gave to the church. Having served on a national mission agency, our team, conducted research on a monthly and annually and reviewed results of the decline of churches, across the American landscape. We saw a severe decline in churches making evangelism, less of an overall key component or part of the Church DNA. The result was fewer and fewer individuals from outside the church and inside the church making the decision to surrender to Jesu Christ as Lord and Savior. This has impacted baptisms since 1974.

Currently, the condition of all mainline denominations in North America is, they are all on or headed to being on a critical condition list. All the while the cults, for instance, Mormonism, Watch Tower, continue to grow. Islam is on a spike and not just growing in the number of Mosques built, but the number of political positions being now filled by Muslims in the United States.

Several years ago, we saw a trend in North America. The churches cut out the Pastor of Outreach and Evangelism. In the last two to three years, this same practice is being fleshed out at the state and national level as well. All the while, America is going to “hell” at an ever increasing rate. It seems almost daily, we hear on the news or read in an online newspaper of yet another decision by our government or official, or community leader, or church leader who has decided to go against God’s plan, God’s instruction book, the Bible how we are to live and relate to God.

Noticing the void created by the absence of the Pastor of Outreach and Evangelism, I have contacted denominational leadership about working as a contractor on a limited basis with their churches. As we discuss the fee or payment options, I have negotiated a monthly or a daily rate,  to consult with pastors one or two days a month. Having conducted my research, I have noticed the rate compared to other industries is, should I say, just a fraction. But in a world of survival, and using my expertise and years of educational training, I tell myself to be grateful, and I am.

In communication with one denominational leader, after communicating with his pastors, he responded. “There is not as much of an interest in us adding to our current budget, though there are great respect and admiration for your skill set and leadership. I appreciate you offering to add a level of depth to our Associations and for your passion for Evangelism.”

But we must consider why churches do not have a budget for evangelism. The reason churches have less money these days is a direct result of a lack of evangelism, evangelistic emphasis, and evangelistic outreach. Which in turn means not reaching lost people with the gospel, which results in not having new disciples or followers of Christ, to baptize and become new tithing church members. It becomes a vicious cycle.

I have heard it said many times by key pastors and denominational leaders, that we budget for what is the most important. I would have to say that Jesus has given His church a mandate for evangelism and then make disciples. The disciples are then added into the body of the congregation, the church. We do not grow the church, God adds to the church according to Acts 2:47.  As the cliché goes, it seems that the church has “put the cart before the horse.” A commons statement I heard before in years past, “As the church goes, so goes the nation.” How is your church evangelism going?

So, if you are looking at your budget for 2016, consider adding a line item for the “Fulfillment of the Jesus Mandate for Evangelism. If your budget is shrinking, trying growing your budget through making evangelism a major emphasis in your church or ministry again.

I have heard it said, that if something is everyone’s job, it is nobody’s job. I have heard pastors make the statement, Evangelism is everyone’s job. However true this statement is, and it is unless there is a Pastor of Outreach Evangelism to remind the church, staff, and church leaders to keep evangelism at the forefront of all ministry a church does, it will not happen.

Need more money for your evangelism ministry budget?  Then “Let’s go soul winning” and makes some new disciple of Christ and teach them how to budget to tithe and support the ministry.

 

 

 

For another year in a row, we have seen fewer baptisms in our churches across North America. When there are so many new people coming to America. God is sending the world to our front and back door. The foreign mission field is so close that we interact many of our new neighbors on a daily basis.

We must begin to ask some hard questions if we are going to see an exponential change in the practices how we engage in evangelism or the lack thereof. (1) Why are we seeing fewer baptisms in some denominations? (2) Are some of our churches and denominations living in blatant disobedience to the Jesus Christ command to go and witness? (3) What changes in strategy, or strategies need to be added to see increased evangelism efforts? (4) What changes in leadership need to be made so a denomination and its churches will once again, begin and intentional evangelism emphasis.

(1) Why are we seeing fewer baptisms in some denominations?

According to the Immigration Institute in Washington D.C., on their website, http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/frequently-requested-statistics-immigrants-and-immigration-united-states, facts show that the mission field in here and churches have the opportunity to minister and evangelize if we will just go and make disciples. As stated in a report,

“In 2014, 1.3 million foreign-born individuals moved to the United States, an 11 percent increase from 1.2 million in 2013. India was the leading country of origin for new immigrants, with 147,500 arriving in 2014, followed by China with 131,800, Mexico with 130,000, Canada with 41,200, and the Philippines with 40,500.”

Note: The Census Bureau defines recent immigrants here as foreign-born individuals who resided abroad one year prior, including lawful permanent residents, temporary nonimmigrants, and unauthorized immigrants.

We see that just from immigrants, there is an influx of newly arrived souls, most likely many of them are not followers of Jesus Christ! Just like in most major cities, there is a section of town that the government has located and is using as the Refugee and immigrant, a community for placing newly arrived souls. And hopefully, in some cases, there is a church or ministry that is reaching out to the people in their mission field. Truly The fields are white for harvest.

Having partnered with one such Church, and community in Metro Atlanta, GA where there are over 50 language groups in a square mile, there have been many attempts to reach these souls with the gospel. The church currently has about nine different congregations under its umbrella that are making Jesus known.

I recently heard Franklin Graham share a story how Samaritan’s Purse teams are some of the first Christians many of the refugee Muslims meet after, surviving the long trip on rafts, to the Greek Islands. He shared that many of the refugees are saying that that Islam has failed and does not work. They are asking for someone to tell about Jesus Christ.

(2) Are some of our churches and denominations living in blatant disobedience to the Jesus Christ command to go and witness?

If we were investigating a crime scene, what evidence or proof would we need to come to the conclusion, without reasonable doubt that a church is living in blatant disobedience to Christ command to go and evangelize lost people and make disciples?

I can think of one key factor, intentional evangelism. The church and denomination would have

  • a staff person/leader who gives leadership and is personally involved in evangelism, evangelism training
  • continually engaging lost people to share the gospel
  • making leaders from people groups and language groups, and to develop leaders in their specific group to expand the ministry through evangelism and disciple making
  • Offer session in developing an evangelistic strategy and its components to churches, pastors, and church leadership to have an effective outreach and evangelism ministry
  • Producing new strategies and emphasis for evangelism and prayer, and disciple making
  • Producing new gospel tracts and approaches bases on the biblical principles and prayer materials

(3) What changes in strategy, or what strategies need to be made or added to see increased evangelism efforts?

Through my doctoral project, I learned about surveying, evaluating, and study of strategy development and implementation for churches to determine if they were evangelistic. I learned about the value of evaluating the ministry, a pastor, and a church. Evaluation is good a place to begin. We must ask some hard questions about a strategy, methods, approaches, and its principles. We must make sure that strategy is biblical and at its core is an evangelistic DNA that will reproduce and spread.

The Bible such be our primary source for evangelism strategies, methods and approaches, and principles. We methods and approaches made not identical but in them, you should be able to identify key basis components for evangelism.

If the ministries of a church are not encouraging and equipping believers to go out and make Jesus known on a daily and weekly basis, then should we reevaluate our strategy? Evangelism is the lifeline of the church. We do not reproduce biologically to grow a church, but through spiritual new births. Though, at some point, hopefully, you will share with your offspring about the trusts of Jesus Christ. They will need to believe in and trust Him for salvation.

A good evangelism strategy should include components such as having a person who fans the flame of evangelism in the church, by promoting, conducting and leading out in evangelism.

(4) What changes in leadership need to be made so a denomination and its churches will once again, begin and intentional evangelism emphasis.

Through my doctoral project and through my personal ministry experience I learned about leadership and having the person in place to lead a specific ministry. I know of one church situation where an individual was hired for a staff position on the basis that he was an excellent manager in the business world.

But when the individual was put in charge of the evangelism ministry he grew the ministry from over 250 people down to 15 people in a matter of months. When the evangelism teams went out to make visits, he did not go with a team. He stayed back at the church. Obviously, evangelism was not his passion, but a tool for success.

As I mentioned earlier, I learned a great deal about evaluation that it is good a place to begin. One of my mentors and professors in seminary and Bible College, Dr. Don Aderhold share how every year, he would meet with his staff and directors to evaluate how effective their ministry had been in the past year. Three key questions he asked were, “Is your ministry team evangelistic?” “How many baptisms did your ministry see last year?” and “By what percentage did your ministry grow?”

One of my mentors and professors in seminary and Bible College, Dr. Don Aderhold share how every year, he would meet with his staff and directors to evaluate how effective their ministry had been in the past year. Three key questions he asked were, “Is your ministry team evangelistic?” “How many baptisms did your ministry see last year?” and “By what percentage did your ministry grow?”

Dr. A, as we all called him, said that if there were not any baptisms, nor added growth, then he would ask what changes need to be made to become more evangelistic and see potential growth. Then he added, “either they made changes to make sure that ministry was evangelistic, or the person was replaced with a more evangelistic personality.”

I have learned that effective organizations conduct an evaluation for the purpose of improvement. But you cannot force people to do something that they are not passionate about and are living out.

What changes need to be made:

  • Hire leadership that has an evangelistic heart and lives it
  • Hire other staff members or develop a team of volunteers, to help develop, promote, in the equipping of evangelism strategies and methods and principles that work
  • Leadership and team are continually seeking to develop a team of leaders to help carry out the evangelism emphasis, and with logistics for evangelism impact in the community
  • Other staff members are hired to help develop, promote, in the equipping of evangelism strategies and methods and principles that work
  • Develop various strategies and materials for churches to have an intentional and reproducing evangelism ministry and new church growth

On a regular basis, I pray for pastors’, churches, and believers to become more evangelistic. That they would make Jesus known to their community around them and to the world. The world will not know about the saving grace of Jesus unless we go and make disciples. Jesus plan is to for to “Go and makes disciples of all nations,” Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8. We the nations are here at our front and back door. The Distance is not far, but our commitment to Jesus must be deep. Go Make Jesus Known!

Jesus told His disciples in Acts 1:8, “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (NASB)

What does it mean to be a “Radical Christian?” I am not talking about a screaming in your face or a bullhorn on the street corner Christian. Though it might mean you do at some occasion stand on a street corner or on the side of the road and use a bullhorn, using the correct tone of voice and mannerism.

Radical Christianity is much more than being loud. To a be a Radical Christian, from a biblical standpoint, means to have a God-given, Holy Spirit empowered, concern and passion for evangelizing lost people with the gospel. Anyone can talk about doing evangelism, but the Radical Christian does it. He or she trains and mentors others how to share the gospel in various contexts.

Radical Christianity, means you go into the hard areas, the high-risk areas, whether, the urban centers across America, or the college campuses, or the workplace and you look for divine appointments to share about Jesus Christ as the Spirit leads. What is a divine appointment, you may be asking? Those are the opportunities, the moments when the Holy Spirit leads you to a person or brings someone to you to start a witnessing conversation.

A Radical Church is a local gathering of Radical Christians whose main objective, the main focus is to make Jesus Christ known. The Radical Christian prays daily and yes, even throughout the day, for opportunities to witness, and for souls to be saved. The Radical Christian goes through the day looking for the opportunities to offer a gospel tract, or pray for someone and then shares how Jesus Christ gives hope, love, forgiveness and a new start in life.

The Radical Christian does not have to go overseas to evangelize, though they can and do make a trip to a foreign land to be Jesus’s witnesses. But for most Christians, the most difficult trip may be to go across their yard to the next door neighbor, or across the street to share the gospel.

The Radical Christian is a soul winner, a prayer warrior who talks to God at the spur of the moment in someone’s time of need. Evangelism will become easier as the Radical Christian engages in witnessing conversations. And they will experience more people born into God’s kingdom because they evangelize.

Radical does not mean fanatical, but people who are not followers of Jesus Christ will probably refer to you as a fanatic because you have a faith they do not have or do not understand. Radical Christianity is the life of the “Church.” The Holy Spirit is the flame, and at salvation, a lost person, who believes and receives Jesus Christ by faith, becomes on fire, hot-hearted for Christ.

A Christian is radical in belief and action because Jesus was radical and experienced a radical death and resurrection. At the moment of salvation, we get the Holy Spirit who is in Jesus and Jesus through Him, that makes a radical life.

So go live a radical life of Christianity and be Jesus’ witnesses. Go tell people, the world about the Lord and Savior of the world. Go and make Jesus Christ known to the world.

 

Recently, Dr. Billy Graham’s Daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, the Evangelist, was quoted on the state of American landscape and purposed the question, “Is God Turning Away From America And Leaving Us To Our Sins,” reported by Michael W. Chapman | April 26, 2016 on CNSNews.com- http://cnsnews.com/blog/michael-w-chapman/billy-grahams-daughter-god-turning-away-america-and-leaving-us-our-sins-0#.VyBDuJn8UVU.facebook

If you read the Old Testament, the first part of the Christian Bible, you will read time and time again, God punished His chosen people for their gross rebellions. In the Old Testament, God’s people, the Israelite’s, murdered/sacrificed their babies at the altars of Molech, aka, the Devil. see Jewish encyclopedia site for more information on Molech.

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/10937-moloch-molech.

Today, in America, we murder our babies, by the hundreds of thousands, every year, at the altars of Planned Parenthood’s, (the abortion clinics). These innocent unborn babies are murdered, while still in was intended to be a “SAFE PLACE” for protection, nurture, and growth. Instead the “SAFE PLACE”, has become a chamber of death, of violent, horrific mutilation of precious unborn babies.

They are basically nothing more than sacrifices offered to the same devil, the god Molech. America and even some churches have gone after false teachings, after corrupted teachings, and have denied the One True God and rebelled and become just like the world.

So do we expect the Creator of the universe, of all living and nonliving matter, to respond differently? Can we sin so much that God would say, “ENOUGH WITH THE SINNING!” In the Old and New Testament, we see recorded accounts, giving evidence that God had to allow His people to wallow in their sin and suffer the consequences.

Genesis, 7 gives evidence that God had enough of humans rebelling and sinning. So He saved the few righteous people, Noah and his family, who followed and obeyed God. Then God flooded the earth, killing all human life and animals, and gave humanity and earth a second chance.

Exodus 32 gives another clear example of God’s people rebelling and sinning, after He set them free from 400 years of bondage and gross slavery under Egyptian rule. While God is giving Mosses the Ten Commandments on two tablets, the people made a false god, a golden calf. God killed all those who participated in the worship of the calf and did not repent, “And the Lord struck the people with a plague because of what they did with the calf Aaron had made.” Exodus 32:35

In Romans 1, the apostle Paul, who had been a Jesus hater, and he hated everyone who followed or professed Jesus as God’s Holy One, later becomes a Christ follower. He wrote to the church in Rome, that if we keeping on sinning and rebelling and reject God, He will turn us over to sinful ways.

Romans 1:18 states, For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all the evils and the wickedness of the children of men, those who are holding the truth in evil.” (Aramaic Bible in Plain English).

People have chosen to worship the creation today over the Creator as mentioned by the apostle Paul in Romans 1: 22-23. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.”

So what will happen if we have gone to the extreme of sinning so what we can cause God to say “Enough with your sinning and rebelling!”

Romans 1 say, 24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.

28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.

If you have never asked Jesus Christ to forgive your sin and asked Him to become your Lord and Savior, do it today. Say, Dear Jesus, I believe you died for my sin, on the cross, and where buried. You rose from the grave to conquer sin, death, and the devil. You have the keys to death and life. Right now, I ask you forgive all my sins. Come into my life and heart. I give my life to You Jesus. Thank You for giving me a new life and for saving my soul. In Jesus Name.

If you prayed and asked Jesus to forgive your sins and asked Him to become your Lord and Savior, Congratulations! Welcome to the family of God.

To get started on your new life with Christ, go to www.billygraham.org and click on the Grow Your Faith tab. You will find Bible studies and a bookstore with a wealth of resources. You can also go to www.myhopewithbillygraham.org and order a free Living in Christ study book. There are also free videos about people who also chose to follow Jesus.

It never fails. I have had this question proposed to me while conducting evangelism training, and workshops. Pastors, staff, deacons, and Christians have asked me a similar question. “How do you begin a witnessing conversation or meeting with someone?”

In my book, Breaking the Evangelism Code, Chapter 10, I share from my personal experiences and examples by seasoned soul winners. God has used the experiences evangelizing in the inner cities across America to teach me several valuable lessons.

Let me share with you some helpful suggestions that will help you to begin a witnessing conversation.

  1. You can have peace of mind when it comes to evangelism, because God’s Spirit will lead you in the conversation. Evangelism is God’s heartbeat. Jesus said, “I have come to seek and to save that which is lost.” Luke 19:10 Aramaic Bible in Plain English
  1. You should pray, ask God’s Spirit to fill you, to lead you, and to prepare the individual(s) He wants to lead to make Jesus known to them. Jesus said, “he who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Matthew 11:15
  2. Gods’ Spirit will direct and guide your words. John 14:26 “But he, The Redeemer of the accursed, The Spirit of Holiness, whom my Father sends in my name, he will teach you all things and he will remind you of everything whatsoever I have told you.” Aramaic Bible in Plain English
  3. God’s Spirit will direct you who to approach, when to approach them and how to begin a witnessing conversation. Acts 10:17-19 19 And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you.
  4. I learned the value of listening to the Holy Spirit, by obeying His leading I get to have effective witness encounters
  5. Start the witnessing conversation by sharing how God changed your life, “Your Grace Story/Testimony.” Write it out, shorten it. Learn a 3, 5, 10-minute version with key gospel verses.
  6. Learn how to share one verse, John 3:16, Romans 6:23. (Do an internet search for much specifics.)
  7. Become comfortable using a simple Gospel Tract. Practice does make perfect.
  8. Learn how to bring a person to the point of decision. What is the point of decision? It is offering a person the opportunity to ask Jesus to forgive his or her sin and to invite Jesus to take control of his or her life.
  9. Learn how to lead in a prayer to surrender, anyone who wants Christ as Lord and Savior, who wants a new start in life, his or her life to Jesus. Read Matthew 11:15, Mark 4:9. (This is a warning with a caution that has consequences)
  10. If you have the privilege of leading someone to trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, connect the person to your Bible study group and church. You want to make lasting disciples.

This list is just a starting point. I hope these help you and God uses these suggestions to put a fire in your bones to make Jesus Christ known.

If you want to get a copy of any of my books, go to amazon.com and do a search for Breaking the Evangelism Code, The Prepared Witness, Intentional Community Evangelism, by me, Victor H. Benavides.  Check out my website, M28evangelism.com for consulting, conferences and much more.

 

 

 

This week I had a meeting with the Regional Coordinator for the Southeast for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association for My Hope, a Church evangelism strategy. We were discussing positions for a new structure for My Hope teams. The term “vital” was used referring to the new positions for the team Coordinators. Dr. Guth, said, “Do you know that the word “vital” means signs of life.”

Vital signs are those indicators which give evidence that an organism is alive. We went on to discuss how the new volunteer positions were vital for the success of our strategy to reach the fifty capital cities by partnering with the local churches to take the gospel into the communities.

As I pondered our conversation and the term “vital” I began to think of the church. The church is a living organism. And the church also has “vital” signs, indicators that it is alive, or sadly, in some cases, dying a slow death. I began to ask myself “what are some vital signs that a church is alive, thriving, and growing.

From a biblical perspective, here is a simple list, based on biblical principles, examples and historical models.

  1. The church is intentionally praying for lost people to be saved.
  • Prayer meetings are held to pray for the lost.
  • At group meetings, bible studies, the staff and directors pray for lost people to be saved
  • The church is prayerwalking the streets, tearing down strongholds in Jesus Name!
  1. The church is intentionally evangelistic.
  • The church staff is teaching its members how to evangelize.
  • The church creates avenues for members to go out and evangelize visitors,
  • Conduct evangelistic door to door surveys,
  • Provides gospel tracts for members to distribute when the opportunity presents itself.
  • Creates opportunities to draw people into venues so its members are able to evangelize.
  • Every sermon has an evangelistic component and offers an evangelistic appeal
  1. The church is intentionally making NEW disciples
  • Evangelistic events, and outings, will produce new believers, so they must be discipled
  • New believers are taught how to evangelize, mentored how to share the gospel
  • New bible groups are formed from new believers as they complete a New Believer’s class
  1. The church is baptizing new believers
  • New believers want to follow Jesus. They want will be baptized.
  • Offers a Baptism Class for new believers
  • There is excitement about baptism and the church celebrates with great joy.
  1. The church is alive with excitement
  • Members of all ages are enthusiastic about seeing lost family, friends, and acquaintances coming to faith in Jesus.
  • Members are continually inviting lost people to “’Come and See’ what God is doing at our church!”
  1. The church will have to expand
  • Salvations and baptisms equals growth. This can occur by
    • adding more Bible study groups
    • double your worship services
    • add another location
    • or build

I am certain there are other suggestions that can be added but these are the basics vital signs of life for a church. I hope your church has good vitals.