One of the goals on preaching a sermon series on evangelism is to raise the temperature or passion for evangelism in the local church.
In preaching your series on evangelism, or studying evangelism, the goal shouldn’t be just increasing a skill set, but also increasing passion within a congregation.
How do you coach passion?
About 2 years ago, a church planting coach asked me this question.
How do you coach passion?
It’s a question that I’ve been thinking on for a few years as this ministry of evangelism training grows
Passion is like fuel — it burns and needs to be replaced.
When we attend a conference, we are inspired with new ideas, we feel a fresh wave of passion, but then life gets in the way and the fire fades. Reality blocks the dreams we had and we settle back into what was comfortable.
Passion is the fuel that helps you persevere through the blockages and inertia that stands in your way.
How did I coach passion for Evangelism?
In my church, I would occasionally preach on Sunday morning, and then nearly every Sunday night for our 2nd service.
Here is how I coached a passion for personal evangelism when I was the regular preacher.
1. Model personal evangelism
This was somewhat unintentional, but happened in my sermons. At least 2-3 times a month I’d share a conversation I had had with someone.
Personal evangelism is something I do, it happens in my life, and some of those conversational encounters would be connected to the sermon theme.
These conversations were often part of the overflow of my study of Scripture and sermon preparation.
They were part of the overflow from my networking and reading books out in public spaces like Starbucks.
I’d often connect the conversational encounter to the text, and then share my thinking process as I debriefed the conversation with the congregation.
- What was that person’s spiritual thirst?
- What was the Holy Spirit sharing with me?
- What is the connection to Jesus and to the text?
I’d share the
- Conversations that were fruitful
- Conversations that were failures and laugh at myself.
- Conversations that were adventures in missing the point.
- Conversations that I wish I had, if I could do it over again.
All illustrations were to highlight the text I was preaching, not a “look at what I did this week” type. In other words, I wasn’t bragging about what I was doing, but connecting my stories to the text from which I was preaching.
I found that most of the heart issues that the Bible texts raised could be illustrated by a conversation I had had with someone.
Instead of asking the congregation “who did you talk to this week,” I simply shared the conversations I was having. It modeled personal evangelism instead of telling them they needed to do it.
2. Repeated Exposure
These types of illustrations would creep into sermons 2-3 times a month. By regular modeling of personal evangelism in my sermons, a funny thing happened.
People in the congregation eventually started telling me of their evangelism conversations with people.
The debriefing questions that I used in my sermon would start being reflected back to me, as the people were thinking themselves about these themes.
I’d ask follow up coaching questions to help my people grow in their processing skills.
My congregation began to reflect the modeling I did in my sermons and small group leadership.
3. Connecting the text to my prayers for people who don’t know Christ.
Nearly every theme for biblical preaching can be connected in a sentence or two to an evangelistic prayer.
For example, perhaps you are preaching on forgiveness.
You’ve shared how you found forgiveness, you’ve shared how Christ forgives our sin.
You could simply add, “I long for my friends and family to know this same forgiveness that I’ve found. I pray that they find this forgiveness and that the Lord would use me.”
Or I would often add: “This is my prayer for my neighbor: that they too would discover . . . ”
What I found is that with this kind of thematic connection, people in the congregation would begin to think of their neighbors and non-Christian relationships more often. They would begin to share with me how they were praying of their neighbors, and often their conversations with people.
During your sermon preparation time, ask yourself, how does this principle point fuel my prayers for my unsaved neighbors and relatives?
Simply make that a passing sentence on a regular basis and if your congregation was like mine, you’ll find that the congregation will begin to think the same way.