Something needs to change:
Observations about the book,
“Evangelistic Effectiveness: Difference Makers in Mindsets and Methods.”

March 15, 2013

Norm Millerby Norm Miller

Norm Miller is the director of communications and marketing at Truett-McConnell College.

 


“In recent years, the effectiveness of our evangelistic outreach hasn’t made great strides in turning people to Christ — and in fact, we’re falling behind the rate of the population growth.”

The sentence above comes from the back of a 60-page book titled “Evangelistic Effectiveness: Difference Makers in Mindsets and Methods.” The easily read paperback was written by Dr. Steve R. Parr and Dr. Thomas Crites, and is published by Baxter Press, Friendswood, Texas.

Both Parr and Crites are state missionaries serving the Georgia Baptist Convention, whose research report is the basis of the co-authored book under review. In hopes of impacting the lostness of Georgia, the authors ask and answer the question: “What makes a difference when it comes to evangelistic effectiveness?”

How would you answer that question?

Does wearing a Tommy Bahama shirt, cargo shorts and flip-flops while preaching in a public school cafetorium on Saturday night ensure increased numbers of conversions and subsequent baptisms?

Nope.

Does dimming the house lights while singing repetitive praise choruses to the accompaniment of acoustic guitars and bongos ensure increased numbers of conversions and subsequent baptisms?

Nope.

Does wearing a three-piece suit and a power tie while preaching three points and a poem inside a white-columned, brick-red sanctuary on Sunday morning at 11.30 ensure increased numbers of conversions and subsequent baptisms?

Nope.

How about wearing a polo shirt under a sport coat while preaching from an iPad a topical talk about getting along with jerks at work — after having sung 7.5 minutes of “blended” hymns and choruses — does that ensure increased numbers of conversions and subsequent baptisms?

Nope.

What about emphasizing the sovereignty of God, or the moral responsibility of man, or the extent of the atonement, or the perseverance of the Savior, or a regenerate church membership — do these emphases ensure increased numbers of conversions and subsequent baptisms?

Nope.

Parr and Crites provide the answer. Are you ready? Got your seatbelt on? Ready to be wowed? Prepared to hear the “secret” that WILL ensure increased numbers of conversions and subsequent baptisms in your church?

Here it is in one word: Intentionality.

Despite all the emphases noted above, they were all for near naught unless intentional evangelism was prominent in said formats. Styles of clothes, styles of worship, church location, age of pastor, etc., make no difference. Intentional evangelism does. No style (sans intentionality) guarantees effectiveness, nor prevents decline.

Reading “Evangelistic Effectiveness: Difference Makers in Mindsets and Methods” will provide details of the authors’ research, which the reader will find interesting, informative and inspiring. But most of all, the reader will discover the “mindsets that make a difference” in terms of conversions and baptisms in some of Georgia’s most successful, disciple-making churches.

According to the authors’ research:

Churches recording more conversions and baptisms are led by those willing to take risks, to face failure, and to try new methods outside the usual Southern Baptist box.

Churches recording more conversions and baptisms set goals, strive to meet them, and evaluate their efforts. “Ministry may keep one busy but may not produce the fruit God expects of his children. The congregation that aims at nothing will hit it every time,” write the authors. Such churches are “not satisfied with the status quo.”

(Personal note: I heard the late Dr. Adrian Rogers say that we are too satisfied with the status quo. And then he said, “I’ve seen the status, and it ain’t much to quo about.”)

Churches recording more conversions and baptisms engage their communities through a reputation of doctrinal conviction, biblical living, and tangible ministries such as food pantries, clothes closets, counseling and more.

The authors’ research also identified “methods that make a difference” which come from a sampling of more than 2,000 GBC churches, 55 percent of which responded affirmatively to the statement, “We have an intentional evangelism strategy.”

Based on the ratio of worship attendees to baptisms, churches with intentional evangelism strategies baptize 20 percent more people than churches not intentional about evangelism. And in raw numbers, total baptisms increase to three times as many.

As one comedian said, “You don’t hafta be a rocket surgeon to figure this out.”

What about weekly visitation programs — think they’re outdated, passé, unworkable? Think again. Pages 31-32 are eye-openers in this regard. The stats are astounding.

Churches recording more conversions and baptisms believe that, the more seeds sown, the more plants will grow (ala parable of the sower). Such churches also provide evangelism training for members.

Regarding revival meetings — the stats for conversions and baptisms strongly favor such churches that hold revival meetings as opposed to those that don’t.

Part 3 of the book — “Perceptions Versus Reality” — turns the calendar back, validating numerous methods of yesteryear that are thought outdated today. Statistical data prove  the tried-and-true methodologies still work after lo, these many years.

Quoting from page 47, “The irony is that while pundits suggest that certain things do not work in evangelism, the data show that effective churches are often utilizing that which is supposed to be no longer relevant.”

The most effective evangelistic methodologies require “that the congregation get off the property and engage the unchurched in the community.”

What you have read thus far is but a small sampling of the gems ready to be mined from “Evangelistic Effectiveness: Difference Makers in Mindsets and Methods.” We owe a debt of gratitude to Parr and Crites for the years of work involved in their research. We owe it to our churches to read and implement the knowledge Parr and Crites relate. We owe it to our Lord and the lost to be busily about the work of an evangelist. Reading said book would help satisfy those debts.

Copies of “Evangelistic Effectiveness: Difference Makers in Mindsets and Methods” may be downloaded from Amazon.com. Or, one also may go to www.gabaptist.org.

 

 

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Preach BlackMan Preach

Churches recording more conversions and baptisms engage their communities through a reputation of doctrinal conviction, biblical living, and tangible ministries such as food pantries, clothes closets, counseling and more.

Every Local New Testament Church throughout our communties has labored for, or the lack there of, the current “reputation” associated with the name. Whether hot or cold, dead or alive. In all other areas of life this is the “big” draw or “big” negative along product or service expectations when we consider who qualifies to receive our hard earned money. This is no small matter in the Local Church because Christ garnered such a large following of all segments of society but especially the poor. Listen, Christ started with “them” in order to reach them, that is, the nation Israel. His disciples were “their” children who would later go out and testify, stand up and tell the truth concerning the Son of God. Lord Jesus Christ reached “one” nation to teach us how to reach “all” nations. His ministry was an intentional circuit throughout the region. However, this was the key, He was intentional to seek and save them who were lost. As He went there were some He told emphatically, “you will die in your sins because you believe not in Me”.

This statement, the poor have the gospel preached to them is repeated on several occassions. Even after salvation the saints who were poor before, continued to have needs as the apostle Paul noted and addressed.

This is a reminder that the “old” school message is still todays only practical “method”. Method without “message” is “madness”, let me tell you!

Excellent insight and observation of true evangelism that compliments the Scriptures.

Preach BlackMan Preach

Today we throw around the terms missionology and methodology but The “Sent One” and His “Message” will always preside over authentic evangelism. I’m glad He gave the message to those the world called unlearned and ignorant men, because from God’s perspective the world was lost in darkness, twice dead, dead in trepasses and in sins.

rhutchin

It appears to me that one neglected evangelistic effort is parents evangelizing their children. There are “Southern Baptist” parents who refuse to live a life of Christ in front of their children.

    Preach BlackMan Preach

    Absolutely. When parents see their spiritual responsibility in the life of their children as transportation only, to and from, youth ministry or even the fellowship on Sunday, we produce the fruit which is the current condition of the Local New Testament Church. There is a gospel life to be modeled which surpass any sermon heard.

Johnathan Pritchett

I think visitation programs are great for increasing church attendance. Of course, this may or may not lead to people coming to Christ, but certainly leads to people coming to church.

There are some varied methods for doing visitation, most of which are highly effective.

In any case, I think these two gents are correct, intentionality is the key. But the intentionality has to be a visible one.

Because my job entails a lot of driving around, I probably listen to more sermons than I should, and one of the current popular things preachers like to bag on, now that people are moving away from bagging on “sinner’s prayer” and “alter calls”, is to bag on “church programming”, “scheduling”, “a new ministry”, and so forth. To me this translates to emphasizing a lack of focus and lack of intentionality. What is claimed is a quasi-spiritual “flow” that things will just happen on their own. This is unBiblical, and it never happens anyway. This is obvious because Paul never stated the indicatives without also stating and amplifying the imperatives, and there are more imperatives about how to do what is indicative than there are statements about what is indicative to believers.

People say things like “simplify”. Another way to look at what people are now promoting is disorganization and chaos. Programming is good. Targeting focus and particularizing emphases in church programs is good. Structure and organization is good. More simply, God is a God of order, not chaos. I think “amplify” is a better way to go than “simplify”.

There is no shortage of good ideas and methods out there how to witness, disciple, grow the church, etc. I got a lot of ideas on this myself. As a former outreach minister and budding apologist interested in engaging culture, I constantly think on these things.

The shortage of church members being intentional about it is primarily because the pastors aren’t intentional about it. If I had to guess, there is not one pastor who read my blogpost a few months back about late shift evangelism and bothered to even try one idea in there.

    lydiasellerofpurple

    Gee Johnathan, what you are describing sounds like the “Training Union” of my childhood. Where I came from, it was “intentional”, let me tell you!

Norm Miller

Johnathan and Lydia:
Does sound like Training Union. And as a PK, I can tell you my attendance was “intentional.”
Points well-taken, J. Thx for your input.
The authors noted that visitation “is not intended as an evangelism assault strategy but as a connection strategy, which, if properly applied, can enhance follow-up, ministry opportunities, relationship building, and opportunities to present the gospel.”
Also, FYI, ask Johnny Hunt about door-to-door evangelism, which is now considered intrusive and outdated by so many wet-behind-the-ears, theological neophytes. As far as I know, Woodstock still does that and people are still won to the Lord.
One thing is for certain: Churches w/o visitation programs will not win a single soul to the Lord through a non-extant visitation program.
Blessings, you two. — Norm

    Mark Lamprecht

    Norm, yes, Woodstock still does that and we even do Wednesday visitations. The visitations include new visitors, wayward church members, etc.

lydiasellerofpurple

One of the best examples I ever read was in Whittaker Chambers book, Witness. Absolute best book of the 20th Century. But eat your wheaties first.

Are we so transparent, compassionate, understanding and real that people actually come to us and ask us why?

Donald

Dr. Wayne McDill, professor of Preaching and Communicaitons at SEBTS, taught a class on Communication for Church Planters some years ago. The basics of that class were then published in his book “Making Friends for Christ, Second Edition” (link below).

Dr. McDill advocates inductive evangelism rooted in God’s communication strategy. Following the Biblical model of Jesus Christ we are to be incarnational, relational and intentional. At it’s core this strategy is about loving the lost and making friends by active listening, overcoming common barriers (Dr. McDill shows us how), and investing in these new friends. You turn your home into a place of ministry and reach those that are in the normal circles of your life (also being intentional about making new normal circles). Since the Holy Spirit must draw we are intentional to build a relationship and credibility. We learn the life story of the lost and as we feel led we are able to tell the person our story and then tell them His story. This is not as well-plotted as a canned presentation, but it seems somehow wrong to talk to folks and already have your next comments preplanned regardless of what they have to say. This is about intentionally turning your everyday life into evangelism and will very soon become second nature. You learn how to evangelize lost family members and friends and to make friends with lost strangers. Evangelism becomes faith based rather than programatic or forced. These circles of influence are ever widening as you make new friends and converts begin to evangelize their lost friends.

I can testify as to the pragmatic effectiveness of this strategy. It is Biblical and very natural once you develop some new habits. In short we are present, in touch and active in the lives of the lost. It is an easy read and inexpensive enough to buy in quantity for your church. I have found that it is best not to make this a new program of the church. We began an in-home study group and I introduced them to the book (after some weeks of inductive bible study). Others have joined and have asked about the book. The last thing I wanted was another program that a select few are pushing to the less involved members. The Holy Spirit is the power source for evangelism and I believe it best to let Him use this as a movement in our church rather than something I am pushing.

$8 for Kindle or $11 in paperback. It is hard to tell how life-changing this was for me without sounding like a book salesman. Do yourself a favor and drop a few dollars on this remarkable resource. I guarantee it’ll be the best $11 you’ve ever spent.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/160957057X/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1/177-0567512-4528943?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_r=007B8YTKHJBX3QCRJQR0&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_i=0805462244

Max

“Here it is in one word: Intentionality.”

There’s no doubt that Southern Baptists aren’t as deliberate as they used to be when it comes to reaching a lost world in their own communities. We’ve tried everything we can to harvest a crop without going to the field. We attempt to draw them in with rock bands, comedians, magicians, clowns, free-food block parties, self-help seminars, soothing sermons, and other Christianity Lite … Good Lord!

I don’t know what it looks like in your area, but most of the churchmen I observe in my parts would not be accused of being ambassadors for Christ. Many pews are led by pulpit CEOs who delegate to others their responsibility to greet new folks, visit the sick, or even pray. Worse still – when some poor struggling seaman, lost and dying in the waters of this world, navigates himself to “church”, he is snubbed by the whole bunch! We’ve darn near organized the life out of our churches. When we should have been agonizing, we’ve been organizing. And whatever became of holy unction – anointing! We aren’t experiencing revival because we are satisfied to live without it. Evangelism is a natural extension of personal renewal and corporate revival, but we aren’t moving in that direction. Our altars are empty because the pews are prayerless. “IF My People … THEN Will I” … but will we?

Intentional is a good word, but “burden” is better … and we don’t have it. Methods won’t work unless our mindset is the mind of Christ which weeps over Jerusalem.

At least that’s the view from where this old Southern Baptist sits.

    Preach BlackMan Preach

    Listen Brother, we won’t shout you down, while you’re preaching good! What is apparrent here is this, we are watching the same madness unfold. In my circles it’s called “New Church” and there isn’t anything new about it. Due to the current political climate which spills over into the local Church but those who so-called open minded, there’s not much room for men of my ilk. So I am beginning with the “wretch” I know and that’s the one walking around in “my” shoes and wearing “my” clothes, me. We are also looking for revival, or the next great awakening outside of ourselves and that train my Friend, isn’t leaving the station, I can assure you of that. It’s when I’m as upset about “my” sin as I am about hearing about yours is when the process is underway. Good question, where is the fire, where is the passion and I like how you said it, “the agony” of those of us entrusted with a share of the ministry of Christ Jesus? When was the last time we were on our face before God, broken beyond repair over those we “can” reach in our homes, communities and world. My world might be smaller than yours but bless God it’s my world to reach enroute to evangelizing the nations. Solid point, well put, right where we can get it!

      Max

      “Good question, where is the fire, where is the passion and I like how you said it, “the agony” of those of us entrusted with a share of the ministry of Christ Jesus?”

      Brother P.B. Preach – What we need in the Body of Christ is agony bordering on anguish that would cause us all to humble ourselves, pray, repent and seek God’s face. Until we do that, we will continue to do church without God – always coming up with some new gimmick in some new church.

      Listen to this brother: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGMG_PVaJoI

        Preach BlackMan Preach

        Thank you for your admonition, this article and the related post are an encouragement to me at this present hour. Thank you for the link.

Alan Davis

If there was a like button on everything that has been said starting with the article I would hit “LIKE”. Thank you.

Alan Davis

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