Chuck Lawless: 12 characteristics of evangelistic pastors

In nearly 20 years of studying churches in North America, I have yet to find an evangelistic church that was not led by a strongly evangelistic pastor. Here are some general characteristics I've seen in these pastors:

1. They make themselves do evangelism. Some are naturally gifted evangelists, but many are not. They just know they need to do evangelism and they need to lead the way—so they intentionally choose to do what sometimes makes them uncomfortable.

2. They hold themselves accountable to someone. They're unafraid to keep somebody else informed about their evangelistic endeavors. They want the accountability, and they want to model evangelistic faithfulness for others.

3. If they have staff, they hold them accountable to doing evangelism as well. That is, they work to build evangelism into the DNA of their church. They know the importance of leaders modeling the work of evangelism.

4. They don't lock themselves up in their office. Instead, they get involved in the community. They join local organizations. They work out in local gyms. They coach Little League in the area. They go where lost people are.

5. They have prayer partners who pray for them to share the Gospel boldly and clearly. These pastors have peers who take seriously the apostle Paul's call for prayer in Ephesians 6:18-20 and Colossians 4:2-4.

6. They pray for nonbelievers by name. They regularly ask God to open blinded minds of family and friends (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).

7. They often have a global heart that translates into local evangelism. The Great Commission is clearly both international and domestic for them. The evangelism they do in one context fuels their fire for the other context.

8. They use the pulpit for evangelism, but they don't stop there. Seldom do they preach the Word without calling people to repentance and faith. At the same time, though, they don't allow their pulpit evangelism to replace doing personal one-on-one work.

9. They tend to define "evangelism" narrowly (and properly, in my opinion). That is, it is never less than verbalizing the Good News of Jesus to a nonbeliever. Other good deeds may lead to sharing the Gospel, but evangelism itself necessitates telling the Good News.

10. They grieve when they don't see lost persons get saved. They so long for people to know Jesus—and they've so often seen people respond positively to their evangelistic message—that they weep when they see nonbelievers fight against the Gospel.

11. They tend to be disciplined in Bible study and prayer. In fact, it's their time with God that propels them into evangelizing.

12. They humbly speak of their evangelistic attempts. They don't broadcast them, but nor do they miss an opportunity to illustrate for others that they're doing evangelism. It's tough to be a model if no one ever hears what you're doing.

No pastor can address all of these areas at once, but all of us can strive to improve in some area. Pick one or two to strengthen in your life, and start moving in the right direction today.

Chuck Lawless, online at www.chucklawless.com, is a vice president, dean of graduate studies and missions and evangelism professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.

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