ORLANDO, Fla. (NRB) – Author and Christian apologist Lee Strobel shared strategies for increasing churches’ evangelistic effectiveness during a Feb. 28 session on pastoral apologetics at Proclaim 17, the NRB International Christian Media Convention in Orlando.
Strobel, Professor of Christian Thought at Houston Baptist University and Teaching Pastor at Woodlands Church in Texas, began his presentation by saying he is concerned and fearful that the value of evangelism is diminishing in American churches. He pointed out that far too many churches are growing not so much through conversion of the lost but as by taking members from other churches.
Asking “Are we as pastors leading churches that are turning atheists into missionaries?” Strobel shared some sobering statistics: in the United States, it takes 86 church members working one year to lead one person to faith in Christ.
“That is not a formula for conquering the world with the Gospel; that is a formula for the ultimate demise of the American church,” the prominent apologist commented.
Strobel said it shouldn’t be surprising that 80 percent of American churches are plateaued or declining and 10 churches a day are shutting their doors.
Strobel, whose book The Case for Christ has been turned into a feature film to be released in theaters April 7, said a six-stage biblical process he has helped develop for churches can increase Christians’ evangelistic temperature.
Stage one, he said, is where leaders in the church own and model the value that lost people matter to God.
“Values are not taught, but they’re caught,” said Strobel, who was an atheist before coming to faith in Christ. “Your church will probably be no more evangelistic than you are as its leader personally.”
He acknowledged that Christians will not always feel very loving toward lost people. In these times, he suggests Christians should: ask God for a renewal of love for the lost; see in the Bible God’s heart for the lost; spend time with “contagious” Christians; make time for non-Christians; and be accountable to others.
Strobel said stage two is that leaders must instill that evangelistic value into the congregation. They must help their congregation understand that an evangelistic lifestyle is normal for a Christian.
Calling it “revolutionary,” Strobel said the third stage said is that leaders must empower a point person to lead the evangelistic charge.
“If there is no name next to a task, nothing gets done,” he said. “We need a person devoted, who stays up late at night praying about this, whose life is all about how we as a church are going to reach the lost of our community. You need someone who is 100 percent devoted to reaching your community for Jesus Christ.”
Strobel said the fourth stage is that leaders must make sure that 100 percent of the congregation is trained to naturally and effectively share Jesus Christ with others. The key is unleashing them to be who God has made them to be, not putting them in the leaders’ mold, he said.
Stage five: Leaders must unleash those who are gifted or passionate about evangelism, according to Strobel.
Finally, Strobel said leaders must create catalytic ministries and events to reach their community for Christ.
Strobel cited a study of the most effective evangelistic churches in the Southern Baptist Convention that found that such congregations hosted several annual attractional events that were done exceptionally well and that produced exceptional results.
Strobel concluded by encouraging churches to use The Case for Christ, the movie, which was screened at Proclaim 17, to bolster their evangelistic efforts. For more information about the movie, visit thecaseforchristmovie.com.
By Michael Smith
Published: March 4, 2017