by Kevin G. Harney
The brain can go about four minutes without oxygen and then cells start dying. When deprived of food, the human body can survive 30 to 40 days if properly hydrated. But, most people will die after 45 to 61 days if they have no food.
If no one stokes the fires of evangelism in the local church, they will burn out and grow cold in about 30 days.
For the past 25 years, I have studied the local church and what it takes to keep evangelism (Organic Outreach) alive and thriving. I have learned that the work of evangelism in almost any congregation in the world will begin a quick and painful death after 30 days if there is not a robust and intentional infusion of fresh outreach vision!
I have worked with leaders who represent thousands of churches all over the world and it is the same story everywhere I go. Most churches don’t rekindle the evangelism fires on a monthly basis and then they are shocked that there they are experiencing little or no evangelistic movement and fruitfulness.
Why does the activity of evangelism die so quickly? There are three primary reasons.
First, there is massive spiritual resistance and warfare against the work of the gospel.
Satan does not care if we have potlucks or sit by a campfire and sing Kumbaya. But, he battles powerfully against any church that mobilizes for the work of evangelism.
Second, most Christians have deep and sometimes paralyzing fear of sharing their faith in any significant way.
Third, the church and pastors fail to train and equip believers to articulate and express their faith in ways that connect for ordinary people.
Over the last three decades, I have learned that the only way to overcome these real barriers is to relentlessly infuse evangelistic fuel into the church. Here are the four kinds of fuel that must be poured into the local church to bring evangelistic action and fruitfulness. I believe all four of these are needed every month.
Inspiration: Every believer needs to be energized and motivated to share their faith and reach out to lost people. There are many ways to inspire Christians to engage in outreach. We can share passages from the Bible that give a clear picture of God’s heart for lost people. We can teach people to pray for and with those who are far from Jesus.
Another great tool for inspiring evangelistic passion is sharing testimonies of evangelistic encounters. Each time we hear about people taking steps forward in their journey to Jesus, it should fire us up. We need to tell stories of people who have turned from sin and embraced Jesus as the giver of hope and life.
The key is that we need to do all we can to inspire each other to increase our passion for evangelism.
Accountability: We need to ask each other simple questions about our personal evangelistic engagement. We can keep each other accountable to be living a lifestyle that shines the light of Jesus.
Ask questions like: Who are you praying for that is far from Jesus? How are you walking with them toward the Savior? How can I pray for you as you seek to be bold as a witness for Jesus? What is your personal outreach temperature right now?
This last question is part of a concept that I call the One-Degree Rule. It is the practice of asking yourself (and others), from 1-10, how hot does my heart burn for lost people and how much am I engaging in evangelistic activity?
A 1 on this scale is a realization that my heart is ice cold. I don’t pray for lost people, I don’t spend time with them, and I certainly do not share my faith openly with them. A 10 on this scale means our heart is burning hot with evangelistic passion and our life is fully engaged in natural outreach.
When we identify our personal temperature, we ask this question, what can I do to raise my evangelistic temperature one degree? It is our responsibility to tend the fire of our heart when it comes to evangelism.
Learning: There are many skills to be learned and tools to become familiar with as we grow in our evangelistic effectiveness. Every 30 days we need to share a new idea, teach a new skill, show a fresh video, introduce a biblical truth, and help people increase their understanding of how to share faith naturally.
On the Organic Outreach website, we provide short videos, a three-year curriculum, and lots of training materials. These are all free. They are designed to help local churches increase their practice of teaching and equipping staff and church members in faith sharing.
Planning: Finally, at least once a month church leaders, board members, and committed believers need to strategize how they can reach out with the love and message of Jesus. We must make specific plans, set measurable goals, and keep ourselves accountable to follow through. It is never enough to get fired up and equipped. We must move into action. Take time to be innovative, prayerful, and strategic. Plan and then execute your plan.
The fuel for evangelism will burn out in 30 days or less. It is our responsibility to fan the flames, toss on some logs, and even pour on some gas! This needs to be done every month until Jesus returns. If we are serious about the Great Commission, we will learn to take this seriously and make every effort to feed the flames every thirty days.
Kevin Harney (@KevinGHarney) is a local church pastor, author, and international speaker. He is the founder and visionary leader of Organic Outreach Ministries International. Kevin is the author of the Organic Outreach series of books (with his wife Sherry), and many other books and studies. He trains movement leaders in how to transform the culture of an organization from being inwardly focused to evangelistic on every level.