The Christian church is called to evangelize. The Christian church oftentimes references Matthew 28:18-20 as the Great Commission. The Great Commission has served as the cornerstone for the local and universal church’s mandate to go throughout the world and spread the gospel message of Jesus Christ. Foreign missions led by Hudson Taylor in China and William Carey in India exemplify the Christian church’s effort to spread the gospel throughout the world.
What about the local church?
Is evangelism limited to sending missionaries to a foreign land?
Look at evangelism as an effort to share the gospel with others. The local Christian church can and should spread the gospel within its local community. Unfortunately, in some instances, evangelism has been mixed or meshed with advertising and marketing for the church as opposed to the actual spreading of the gospel and its message of good news to people. Evangelism, for the sake of this article, focuses on the direct dissemination of the gospel message to people.
The local church can evangelize its local community through concerted efforts to reach a wide range of people through a variety of means. Each local church may have a particular strength that may assist it in identifying how to structure its evangelistic efforts, but all churches should prayerfully plan their evangelism to reach a broad range of people from all walks of life.
The local church can explore how to take on a geographic approach for its evangelism. Church leaders and volunteers can identify the immediate area surrounding the church or an impoverished neighborhood within the same city as the church as a core focus. Identifying the geographic area will allow the church to focus its efforts and resources for evangelism.
Evangelizing the area surrounding the church can work well if the church is located within the vicinity of a residential area. Target the church’s efforts on places like apartment complexes, mobile home parks and residential houses. Use online sources for printing street maps and identify streets to tackle with prayer walks, tract distribution and other door-to-door evangelistic efforts to reach people. Track the number of streets canvassed within a month, the number of tracts distributed and the number of decisions made for salvation as well as identifying households and individuals for follow-up.
The local church can reach a diverse expanse of people. Let the church’s evangelism efforts expand to a broad demographic. The great Commission calls for the church to spread the gospel without any consideration to ethnicity, age or any other factor.
Identify pockets of the local community where youth can be reached by the church. Local schools, parks and community centers provide an opportunity for the church to evangelize in a public setting. Many college campuses allow churches to have display tables or information booths manned by volunteers in the quad or near the student center where students can sign up for Bible study or prayer groups, even simply stop by and pick up a tract. Senior citizen programs and facilities welcome many churches to provide Bible lessons and messages for seniors during the week and on the weekends. Plan a strategy for reaching young and old alike.
Although some local churches are geared towards a particular ethnicity or culture such as a Korean Methodist congregation or a Dutch Baptist church, that does not preclude or prohibit those churches from reaching all kinds of people by spreading the gospel. Evangelism is about sharing the gospel, not necessarily recruiting people for church membership. Ensure that evangelism volunteers understand that they can share Christ and not feel put off if a person selects another place for their church home.
The local church that finds itself less diverse may want to partner with another church that has greater diversity to reach people with the gospel. Many churches have instituted urban ministries to reach out to low-income communities as well as diverse groups of people. Translators may be necessary if there are people who do not speak English. Collaborate with others to eliminate language and cultural barriers.
Some helpful resources for expanding evangelism:
- Life Way
- Outreach Resources
Taking on the Great Commission is a noble effort that the local Christian church can accomplish with some prayer and planning. Take some time to further explore how the church can reach out to its local community and spread the gospel.