Webinar focuses on developing an evangelism culture

By Philip W. Calvert | Apr 19, 2022

Helping local churches develop an evangelism culture that allows for growth by conversions and not merely by membership transfers from other churches was the topic of a webinar hosted by the Arizona Southern Baptist Mission Network on April 6. The presenter was James Chambers, founding director of A Faith that Overflows, a ministry seeking to awaken and mobilize the church to share Jesus with love and passion.

Sadly, there is an invisible brick wall in many churches that even the pastor and other church leaders may not fully understand, Chambers said. That brick wall, which greatly inhibits growth through outreach, is the church’s culture.

The culture of the local church, if it’s not hospitable and evangelistic, acts like an enormous brick wall, he said. As such, attempts to connect new people — especially the never-churched and the unchurched — to the ministries of the church consistently and inexplicably fail.

One of the keys to growing a church by reaching the lost is being hospitable, Chambers said. The unchurched simply must see the genuine Christ-like hospitality of believers in the local church setting. Moreover, he said, equipping believers to reach people who are already in their lives, such as family, friends, coworkers and neighbors, is critical to creating a culture of outreach.

It is vital to understand that changing the church’s culture is far more effective than merely introducing a steady supply of evangelistic programs, Chambers said. If the church culture is such that the members do not receive and implement the training, then the chance of growing the church through outreach will be greatly diminished.

As David Johnson, Arizona Southern Baptist Mission Network executive director, noted during the webinar, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

In many ways, a new wine skin — an evangelistic culture — is desperately needed in the local church so that it is a place where the lost can ask questions and answers are clear and biblical, Chambers said.

Millennials are not attracted to the typical church response, “Just because it’s always been that way,” he noted. The unchurched today want to dive deeply into the pressing issues in the world around them. If the church doesn’t have an answer to intractable problems, the lost will be less interested in the message about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Most pastors and ministry leaders are the primary influencers of the culture in their local church, thus giving rise to the saying that, “What you live you will eventually lead,” Chambers said. If you live an evangelistic lifestyle, you will ultimately lead an evangelistic church and ministry.

The three key takeaways from the webinar were what James Chambers calls “Three Outreach Mysteries.”

  1. You don’t need to mobilize the entire church, just the committed volunteers. The committed volunteers are already all-in and invested in the church’s vision, and their energy can be more effectively directed toward outreach.
  2. The questions you ask your leaders will dictate the direction of their ministries. Questions indirectly communicate the church’s priorities, values and expectations. Questions create curiosity and conviction. At all levels of church leadership, ask questions about reaching the lost.
  3. Outreach is time consuming when you don’t play to your strengths! Plugging evangelism strategies and programs into a system that is not built for them will not produce the desired results. See what your strengths are and build outreach around them.

To learn more, A Faith that Overflows works with churches to develop “Culture of Outreach Cohorts” to help develop a culture of reaching the lost. Visit reachthisgeneration.com to fill out a form to join a cohort. Find out more about A Faith that Overflows at afaiththatoverflows.com. A recording of the webinar is also available on Vimeo.

Chambers will be the speaker in a second Arizona Southern Baptist Mission Network webinar at 10 a.m. on May 11. The topic will be “how we reached and discipled 4,000 millennials to be leaders for the church and how you can use the training in your church.” Register here.

Philip W. Calvert is senior pastor of Trinity Southern Baptist Church in Casa Grande.

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