7 Top Issues Church Planters Face | #6: Evangelism
Evangelism and Discipleship
Church planters can do a lot of things wrong and God can still bless the new church. All pastors will confess that God often blessed in spite of their frail leadership and strategies. Still, planters need to lead and strategize for carrying out the mission of God.
Evangelism and discipleship is one of those mission critical issues that needs a planter’s attention. Evangelism does not automatically happen in a new church. Too many planters think the reason that lost people have not come to Christ is because they have not found the right church yet. Thus, a mythological equation is formed: lost culture + relevant church plant = instant harvest.
Planters sincerely set out with a new approach that will fill the local middle school gymnasium or movie theater with masses of lost people. As a result, they often spend the majority of the week getting the production ready. The band, slides, movie clips, ambiance, coffee and donuts, are all a part of an environment that helps people feel at home. But at the end of the day, the demanding grind of an attraction-based church can potentially take away from the pursuit of those far from God. The long-term future of the new church is in the conversion of lost people, not a Disneyfied Sunday morning experience.
Five Challenges to Evangelism and Discipleship
1. Administrative time demands reduced from time needed for evangelism and discipleship.
2. Discerning how to practice our faith in a way that images the mercy of God (James 1:27).
3. Living incarnationally and engaging in today's culture.
4. Implementing a deliberate evangelistic and disciple-making strategy.
5. Making small groups work.
Observations to Help You Work through These Challenges to Evangelism and Discipleship
Distracted by the Planting Process
Planting the church often hinders what drives the planter to launch a church: a heart to reach lost people. Developing leaders, mobilizing volunteers, building teams, financial resources, and building healthy systems all divert a planter's focus to things other than evangelism and discipleship.
The desire to engage lost people and build relationships is met with the reality of the challenges that tug on the planter's time, energy and focus.
The Internal Scorecard
A nagging sense of falling short of the dream in the area of evangelism and discipleship can significantly contribute to a planter's discouragement. The planter's tolerance level for the pressures and disappointments of planting is higher when lives are being changed.
In some ways, it's like parenting. When our kids respond by grace and through faith to Jesus and live for Him, it's easier to deal with disappointment over less important areas of their lives. Evangelism and discipleship are core values for most planters and should bias the internal scorecard more than many other factors.
Conclusion (by Acts 29)
1. Read Mark Driscoll’s article on evangelism.
2. Listen to Matt Chandler talk about the ex-con who attended Easter at The Village Church when the worship pastor lit his cigarette.
3. Read Jonathan Dodson’s article on missional discipleship.
4. Listen to Mark Dever’s talk on the Great Commission and Church Planting.
5. Review the chart on a missional church by Scott Thomas.
6. Review the evangelism resources on The Resurgence.
7. Consider attending one of our upcoming boot camps for further training.
Top 7 Issues Church Planters Face Series:
Abbreviated from a Report Prepared by Exponential and Ed Stetzer.