I can tell you there are many times when I have stepped up to the pulpit and my spiritual fuel gauge is close to empty. It has been a busy week, I am depleted, I am tired—for whatever reason, I am not exactly full of vim and vigor. Can you relate?
Yes, I have started many a sermon on empty and ended it on full. Do you know why that is? Because there is joy in sharing the message of the gospel.
You know, people sometimes thank me for preaching. “Greg, thank you for your message. Thank you for the work you put into it.” I am going to tell you a little secret: I like to preach. I enjoy it. I find joy in it. I find joy in taking the message of the Word of God and sharing it with others and seeing others blessed as a result. Do you?
Jesus says, “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38 NKJV). In Proverbs 11:25 we read, “Those who refresh others are themselves refreshed” (NLT). As a pastor, you’ve no doubt found those principles to be true.
How do we convey those truths to the people in our churches? How do we get them to understand the joy of sharing the gospel? How do we challenge them to put it to the test—to get out there and start engaging people?
I think that creating a culture of evangelism starts with our own example as pastors. Before you preach it, you need to live it. People are watching you. They want to make sure that you are really living what you teach—that your walk matches your talk. They are looking for people who, before they speak a single word, are living a life that is an evidence that they truly have been with Jesus.
There was never a better communicator than Jesus Christ Himself. That almost seems like a “duh” statement. Of course—Jesus is the best at everything! But here is my point. Sure He is God. Sure He is our Savior. Sure He is the Lord. But He also was an excellent communicator and He has given us an example that we can emulate when it comes to sharing our faith with others. In fact, here are just a few key principles about evangelism that I see in Jesus’ communication with the woman at the well:
- Effective evangelism starts with a burden. We should have a concern for lost people. Evangelist D. L. Moody rightly said, “Winners of souls must first be weepers of souls.”
- We need to use tact. Jesus, the Master Evangelist, used skill and grace in dealing with others—something many Christians seriously lack.
- To share the gospel effectively, we must adapt to the situation. Not everyone is in the same place spiritually. We must meet people where they are at, just like Jesus did.
- We must stay focused. It’s so easy for us to get off topic—to major on the minors. Jesus brought His conversations back to the main thing, in a compelling way, and so should we.
One of the easiest ways for people to start a conversation about faith is by extending an invitation to an evangelistic event. There’s a great outreach coming up on June 11 called Harvest America that really opens the doors for a culture of evangelism in your church.
So many churches, after going “all in” for Harvest America, report that their congregation experiences a new mindset—a more evangelistic atmosphere. The excitement of seeing so many people come to Christ, not only in their church, but across the nation—and knowing they were able to be a part of it—fuels an evangelistic fervor long after the event is over.
Harvest America allows people to get involved—by praying, inviting, and bringing their friends and neighbors—and to experience the joy of fulfilling the Great Commission. I invite you to participate in the free event, not just to reach your community, but as a way of encouraging your church members to experience the joy of evangelism.
Pastor Greg Laurie serves as the senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California, one of the largest churches in America; is the author of more than 70 books; hosts the nationally syndicated radio broadcast, A New Beginning; and is the founder of Harvest Crusades, a large-scale evangelistic ministry whose next event, Harvest America, will be held June 11 in Phoenix at the University of Phoenix Stadium and broadcast live nationwide. His next book “Steve McQueen: The Salvation of an American Icon” releases on June 13.