What does your church do to mobilize its members for personal evangelism? A pastor friend of mine said the approach of most churches is to have their members memorize the pastor’s phone number.
While a case could be made that the pastor of the local church is the chief evangelist, for him to be the evangelist is soundly unbiblical and resoundingly unhealthy, both for the church and for the individual. Bearing witness to Christ is the responsibility of every believer.
In Ephesians 4:11-16 the Apostle Paul lays out a flow of ministry, a flow by which the church grows mature and functions properly. This divine design establishes pastors (or, shepherds who minister by teaching) not as the doers of ministry supported by the finances and cheers of the sheep. Rather, pastors are the equippers of the doers of ministry, that is, the sheep. The church will grow and function in God’s design as each part does its work.
This ministry flow holds true for witness as well. Pastors are to equip the saints for the work of evangelism. Neglect of this facet of discipleship stunts personal spiritual development and hinders the work of the church for the sake of the kingdom. The power of the gospel is shortchanged in both respects.
I often ask pastors what they do at their churches to equip their people (i.e., those God has entrusted to their care) for the commission of evangelistic witness. Some will remember offering a class several years ago. Some will point to occasional or established large-scale events at the church facility that may or may not get the gospel message across. Less frequent will be those who point to evangelistic training as a regular part of the programming of the church. Even then, it seems that the training of a few suffices for the responsibility of the many. More often than not, however, I will hear, “we don’t have anything,” an admission expressed in muted tone.
How can a pastor equip the saints for the work of gospel witness? I would suggest training in evangelistic prayer, along with recasting of what exactly is involved in personal evangelism. The Community Houses of Prayer ministry seeks to do precisely that. Here is a description.
Community Houses of Prayer (CHOP) is a ministry tool to equip and involve believers in evangelistic prayer as they seek to draw near to people for Christ and draw near to Christ for people. CHOP incorporates weekly group meetings and daily private prayer to renew participants in God’s grace, to shape attitudes as instruments for Christ in their life-spheres, to train in the discipline of kingdom prayer and to engage in communicating the gospel.
It is empowering for believers to hear how witness can be part of ordinary life, in the context of conversations for Christ, with those God has placed around them. They learn how freeing reliance on the Holy Spirit can be, and that effectiveness is not dependent on them. Their concept and practice of prayer grow richer and broader. And they experience all this in the camaraderie and accountability of fellow believers. The seeds of evangelistic prayer are sown throughout the church.
I plan to lead a community house of prayer this fall at my local church. I’m eager to see how God will work in and through those involved. I like the title for the ministry suggested by one the members, “Praying Family, Friends and Neighbors into the Kingdom—CHOP.” That pretty much tells it like it is.
You’ll find everything you need in the Community Houses of Prayer Ministry Manual to get CHOP started at your church.