Book Review: A Plan to Revitalize a Church’s Passion for Evangelism

Bob Farr booksOne frustrating problem for small church pastors is leading a church that has no desire to share their faith.   How does that pastor begin to change that and overcome the natural resistance to personal evangelism?

If a pastor had no training in personal evangelism (which is likely if the church is a mainline denomination), then how does a pastor lead evangelism when the pastor may have very little personal experience?

Books on personal evangelism cover all angles of evangelism work.  What has been needed is a book that presents a plan of action for pastors who feel like they are without guidance in this area.

Get Their Name: Grow Your Church by Building New Relationships is one such book.  Its stated desire to present a two year plan of action that a pastor can lead to develop some evangelistic activity in the congregation.

This book presents a two year plan to help your nervous church members grow in some basic relational evangelism skills.

Lack skills or a plan?

If you have a church that is actively sharing Jesus in many ways, than this book is not quite for you.  If you are

  • Regularly sharing the gospel in your sermons
  • Helping your members talk about their faith,
  • Providing ongoing evangelism training

then this book is not quite for you.  Your church already as an interest in personal evangelism and they are acting on it.

Get Their Name: Grow Your Church by Building New Relationships  is aimed at churches that lack a zeal for personal evangelism.  It is aimed at churches where members are not comfortable talking about their faith at all.  If your members can’t talk about God’s activity in their life now, then this book presents a plan to help change that.

I think this book would be aimed at:

  • Small mainline churches that lack evangelism skills
  • Mainline churches that have plateaued or are in decline.

The target audience is not necessarily a small church, but any church that lacks an evangelistic zeal.  It is for pastors of mainline churches that need somewhere to start in developing the DNA of evangelism in the church.  The authors regularly chime in with some Methodist quotes and values to inform their approach.


Section One centers on basic relational evangelism skills in this model.

Section Two

  • Build relationships with unchurched people
  • Set a goal of conversations, not conversions.
  • Try to spend 8-10 hours a week in being with unchurched people.
  • Includes chapters on how to talk with unchurched people.

Section Three

  • Prepare your church to receive people – improve your hospitality

This final step is absolutely important.  Small churches and even larger churches need to fix their church hospitality on a regular basis.  It is not helpful to have an evangelistic skill set, yet your church will not welcome the newcomers.   In fact, excellent hospitality will increase the likelihood of a personal invitation to church.

Over all, the book presents a pretty good plan.  It’ll take patience to implement, but at least Get Their Name: Grow Your Church by Building New Relationships  gives a pastor a sense of direction as to where to start.  You might want to share copies with your leadership team.

Some useful quotes:

Evangelism becomes passive, waiting for them to come, being polite when they arrive, helping them to join our organization, and then trying to get them to come back if they quit attending worship or giving money.

This book is about helping people in our churches move past the fear of inviting or sharing faith with others and move toward an active, passionate missionary lifestyle.

Evangelism is about building authentic relationships with people we don’t know. This relationship might lead to a conversation, which might lead to an invitation to gather with a community of faith, which might lead to an authentic relationship with Christ.

When you have attended a group [editor note: where you are spending time in the community] for a year, ask yourself if you are seeing anyone become a part of the faith community as a result of your time investment in that group. If the answer is no, you need to evaluate your technique and/or whether it is the right group in which to invest your time.

Related Books oriented at Mainline Churches

Order your Copy

Order your copy of Get Their Name: Grow Your Church by Building New Relationships from Amazon and they will pitch me a few nickels.

So You Are the New Pastor of a Small Church, Now What?

Were you recently appointed as the new pastor of a small church?

Over the summer, I’ve met with new pastors, freshly ordained, who have been appointed to very small churches in rural areas, or some churches in urban pockets that have been in decline for years.

What are some possible ways the small church pastor can help grow the church through evangelism?

Evangelism for the New Small Church Pastor

Two Assumptions

First, undergirding each of these ideas with the work of prayer.  That’s a given as I raise these ideas.  Pastoring and evangelism is a spiritual work.  You will not get far without being filled with the Holy Spirit and seeking a fresh filling on a regular basis.

The other assumption is that you are a pastor worthy of following.  Not everyone is skilled to pastor, and not everyone is a good leader.  There are times when appointments or calls are not a good fit.  Prayerfully consider if you are in the right place to utilize your gifting

That being said, let me suggest a few avenues of evangelism for the small church pastor.

1.  Call on church members that have left in the last few years.

Your church may have had members leave under previous pastorates due to all sorts of different issues.   Sometimes, people just drop out and no one remaining knows why.

Consider calling on former church members who have left.  You might send a letter to everyone introducing yourself as the new church pastor and that you’d like to arrange a visit with them.  They might call and come to your office, or you might be invited to their home.  However you arrange the visit, the point is take the time to visit.

Your purpose would be to introduce yourself as the new pastor of their former church.  You might hear their story of why they left.  They may have left over reasons of conflict or a mis-understanding.

But sometimes, you’ll simply find someone who dropped out because they were overlooked for too long.  Your visit may reinspire a fresh desire to visit.

While you visit, you may also end up doing some healing prayer ministry or find another spiritual need.

You might encounter someone who doesn’t know Christ, but thinks they are a Christian because they’ve grown up in church.

You may find that the former members have transitioned and gotten involved in another church.  Celebrate that.  Offer to pray with them before leaving as an act of closure.

Keep this in mind: their reason for leaving may reveal some of the unhealthy issues in your church.  Are you prepared to pray through and deal with those issues?

Nothing can take the place of of such personal contact with former members that have dropped out of church.

You will encounter some bitterness, but don’t take it personally.  It might be the opportunity to work on forgiveness and healing.

2.  Love the people who still attend the church

Some church people could be demoralized because the church is not yet growing.  As you seek to express care and concern for those who have left, love those who have remained faithful to the church and it’s mission, in spite of the challenges.

You will be challenged by the strong personalities, the conflicting ideas, and possibly the complaining that has become the norm.

If you are the new small church pastor, you’ll need to show love.

Then lead them forward.  As you begin to personally reach new people for Christ, you’ll need to lead your current congregation in

  • welcoming new people,
  • making changes to old systems
  • adapting to the changes that will come.

Do this in a context of love.  It won’t be easy.

3.  Spend time in the community.

Find a way to spend regular time out in the community.  At this point of my life, I’m choosing to exercise regularly, and be a regular face at the park (I don’t use the gym).  I’m getting to know people that way, some of whom are wanting to spend more time with me.

You might spend the same time at a coffee house, at a restaurant, or some other regular gathering place of people.

In some communities, that might be a civic organization, a volunteer group, or some affinity group gathered around a hobby.  Listen to how this pastor spends time in the community

Lead your church by modeling evangelistic behavior by being out in the community.

I once coached a small pastor in personal evangelism over a few months.  The result of spending intentional time in the community was 2 new baptisms.  Listen A small church pastor tells stories of evangelism.

4.  Be Intentional in your personal Evangelism.

Evangelism doesn’t have to be only at 4pm on Fridays.  Rather, talking about your faith should be part of every day life.

I get to talk a lot with pastors at conferences I give or attend, and often on the telephone as well about some of their challenges with personal evangelism.

This is what I hear from pastors about their personal evangelism

  • “I don’t have time for personal evangelism.”
  • “I’m not good at doing this evangelism thing.”
  • “I wish I could get out of the office and actually talk with people.”
  • “I wish I had learned this in seminary.”
  • “I have no experience in personal evangelism, so how am I supposed to lead it in my church”

There can be a variety of reasons why pastors have a hard time with evangelism.

Even though your church members will take up a lot of your time, don’t forget to be intentional to look for ways to share the gospel as you go.

5.  Have a Friends and Family Day

Shortly after you get going, organize a special Sunday where intentional effort is made to re-invite former members who are no longer connected to a church.  Make every effort to use that event to launch a new sermon series, a new small group program, or some other “Come back” event after the initial service.

Even if your former members come for a visit, rejoice they have come.

Take the opportunity to clearly present the gospel as part of the sermon.

You might include pictures of the past, and find ways to tell the story of the congregation via the pictures.  It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but enough to tell the story of the church faithfully and remind the gathered people of why that church exists.

Read 6 ways to organize a friends and family day.

There is no single solution for the small church pastor

These are simply some ideas that have been tried and found effective.

Others can chime in with more advice, but this list is simply a place to start.

As you pray and discern the leading of God, you’ll receive the wisdom that you need to handle the church that is front of you.

It will not always be easy, but you will see God’s hand in what you are doing.

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NIV Application Commentary Sale

Zondervan has placed the NIV Application Commentary Series on sale for only $4.99 each through May 20th. I have this entire collection in hardback, and rejoice that they’ve thrown this to the kindle on a deep discount.

The first column is for the US Market.

The second is for Canadians.

Leviticus, NumbersRoy GaneDOWNLOADDOWNLOAD
DeuteronomyDaniel I. BlockDOWNLOADDOWNLOAD
JoshuaRobert L. Hubbard Jr.DOWNLOADDOWNLOAD
Judges, RuthK. Lawson Younger Jr.DOWNLOADDOWNLOAD
1 and 2 KingsAugust H. KonkelDOWNLOADDOWNLOAD
1 and 2 ChroniclesAndrew E. HillDOWNLOADDOWNLOAD
Ecclesiastes, Song of SongsIain ProvanDOWNLOADDOWNLOAD
Jeremiah, LamentationsJ. Andrew DearmanDOWNLOADDOWNLOAD
Hosea, Amos, MicahGary V. SmithDOWNLOADDOWNLOAD
Joel, Obadiah, MalachiDavid W. BakerDOWNLOADDOWNLOAD
Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, ZephaniahJames BrucknerDOWNLOADDOWNLOAD
Haggai, ZechariahMark J. BodaDOWNLOADDOWNLOAD
MatthewMichael J. WilkinsDOWNLOADDOWNLOAD
1 CorinthiansCraig L. BlombergDOWNLOADDOWNLOAD
EphesiansKlyne SnodgrassDOWNLOADDOWNLOAD
PhilippiansFrank ThielmanDOWNLOADDOWNLOAD
Colossians, PhilemonDavid E. GarlandDOWNLOADDOWNLOAD
1 and 2 ThessaloniansMichael W. HolmesDOWNLOADDOWNLOAD
1 and 2 Timothy, TitusWalter L. LiefeldDOWNLOADDOWNLOAD
HebrewsGeorge H. GuthrieDOWNLOADDOWNLOAD
2 Peter, JudeDouglas J. MooDOWNLOADDOWNLOAD
Letters of JohnGary M. BurgeDOWNLOADDOWNLOAD
RevelationCraig S. KeenerDOWNLOADDOWNLOAD

Thanks to Gospel Ebooks for pointing this to my attention!

As with all sales, prices are subject to change without notice.

All of these are affiliate links and Amazon will share a few nickels with us for each that you purchase.  All proceeds support the work of in Latin America

Video: How Your Church Can Grow in Evangelism

As a church leader, what if you don’t excel in personal evangelism?

Can your congregation still enjoy conversion growth?

Watch these three pastors in this 10-minute video about how churches can grow in evangelism.

Darrin Patrick, Mark Dever and Matt Chandler spend some time talking about their different evangelism approaches.

You might like these books for further reading:

Personal Evangelism

Get More Church Invitations: Relevant Sermons

This entry is part 7 of 10 in the series Church Invitations

How preaching leads to more church invitationsRecently, I was asked via Ask EvangelismCoach about ways to increase the number of invitations to church that members give to their network of friends.

Review these posts to get on board with some of the answers

  1. More church invitations: Friends and Family
  2. Get More Church Invitations: Prayer
  3. I want you to come to my church

Today, I want to add number 4.

Understandable and Relevant Sermons

The preached sermon is the focus of our worship gatherings.

If you are the pastor, take a review of your sermons.

a. Are your sermons simple to understand?

In other words, will my friend understand the sermon?

Have you explained theological terms in plain language?

Are you keeping the theology in the textbook, but making theology accessible to people who may not understand?

I think some modern preachers do this well.  I listen to podcasts from Andy Stanley, David Jeremiah, Tim Keller.  These men explain theological terms and concepts in words that are easy to understand.

In the church we are currently visiting, the preaching pastor does this well as he has been teaching on core doctrines of the church.

In the church we are helping plant, our teaching pastor does this as well as he connects theology with real life.

I’ve also listened to some sermons that felt like doctoral dissertations, full of seminary language, full of theological language, and full of concepts that really don’t make sense outside of Christian circles.

My preaching professor once said something to the effect that sermon preparation is digging in the mine, but the sermon is the cleaned up jewel that is easy to see. I’ve always kept that in mind as I strive to keep my sermons simple to understand.

Jesus taught with simple illustrations that were grounded in real life. His stories were simple, but left the listener with profound stirrings and thoughts.

If your members find that your sermons are simple to understand, you make those sermons accessible to their friends.

You want your church members to say “My friend needs to hear this.”

b. Are your sermons relevant?

In other words, will my friend get something out of the sermon that applies to their life?

Or are your sermons so disconnected from real life, it’s just a black hole of information that serves little purpose?

I’ve been in churches where tight theology is more important than relevance.

I’ve visited churches where sermons were educational exercises in university level thinking about economics.

I’ve heard sermons that were running commentary on current events and arguments over which presidential candidate should be elected.

I’ve heard sermons on spiritual warfare that would freak-out a non-Christian who is exploring faith.

Is your sermon applicable to real life situations that my friend might benefit from?

This is where sermon series on personal finance, marriage, relationships, and other life topics are a good source of a preaching material.

Even for those who favor expository verse by verse preaching need to make the effort to connect their sermon points to real life, either in application or illustration.

If your members find that your preaching connects the word of God to real life situations, you’ll find your church members regularly thinking “My friend needs to hear this too.”

c.  Are your sermons accessible?

It used to be that sermons were recorded to cassettes and cds, copied, and then passed around.

In today’s technology enviornment, there is no reason you cannot put your sermons on your church website for easy sharing.

If you are still using cassettes or not recording them at all, consider this video:

Resources for easy sermon capture:

There are plenty of benefits of recording and putting your sermons as an MP3 at your website.

  • Your members can get into the archive at any time and listen via their computer or download it to a device.
  • The links to the sermon audio can be emailed and shared in social networks.
  • Your members who are out of town can listen to the sermon on-line.
  • Your members who have moved away can still hear your sermons online or through their downloads
  • Visitors can catch up on prior sermons online in the series.
  • Church Visitors can get a sample of your preaching style.
  • The Word of God is distributed and God can use it wherever people choose to listen.
  • Your archives are on-line for 24 hour global access.
  • No more additions to a clumsy tape storage system.

With sermon recording now this easy and inexpensive, perhaps it’s time to start getting the Word back out there with some low cost recorders.

Your Next Steps to Sermons that attract visitors

As you prepare your sermons, think about the unchurched person who will be visiting this Sunday and ask yourself, what might you need to explain better for them.

Find ways to start getting your sermons online and accessible in other ways than just showing up on Sundays.