The Apostle Paul depicts the clear description of the gospel in his statement, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:3–4) Paul unashamedly proclaimed the message of the gospel as of top significance and importance. No greater need. No greater topic. No greater purpose.
The life-changing message of Jesus is the most prominent truth anyone can deliver or receive. The pulpit within the local church must provide, highlight, and embrace this message each week. No person should ever be able to walk out of our churches without clearly understanding what it means to repent of sin and totally surrender to Jesus Christ. The following will provide three steps to consider when establishing an evangelistic pulpit.
Practice Personal Prayer for Evangelism
“Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:37–38)
Prayer is often viewed as a separate discipline apart from evangelism. Two areas of concern arise from this conclusion. First, Jesus specifically told His disciples to pray for other believers to join the evangelistic labor force. Without prayer, additional believers will remain in their present lackadaisical and comfortable Christian lifestyle. Only the power of God can enable an evangelistic thrust into the heart of a believer to such a degree they are willing to go to their neighbors and nations with the gospel of Christ Jesus.
“Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.” (Romans 10:1)
Second, although we may not fully understand it, God works through the prayers of His people. When believers pray, others get saved. Pastors, pray emphatically for the lost in your community to respond to faith in Christ. From the pulpit, pray for those who do not believe. Pray expectantly! Malachi O’Brien stated, “Prayer always proceeds, empowers, and exponentially advances evangelism. Prayer declares we can’t and only You can.” A harvest of souls will never occur until God’s people beg from heaven for lives to be changed. Pastors possess the responsibility and privilege of leading from the pulpit in passionate prayers for the lost.
Richard Ross shared his three-fold prayer to his class several years ago. He stated that each morning he prays three things before he begins his day. First, Ross asks God to give him a divine appointment. Second, he asks God to nudge him when his divine appointment approaches him or when he approaches his divine appointment. Third, Ross asks God to take away his fear and give him the words to say. As impactful as this prayer was the most significant part came when Ross was about to conclude the class that day. He told his students to think about it. Before you utter one word to your divine appointment, you will already know for sure and have confidence that God answered the first two prayers and you will have that same confidence in knowing He will answer the third.
Practice Personal Evangelism
While speaking at one of the fastest growing churches in the Detroit area, I asked the pastor how his church was witnessing such a dramatic increase in lives being changed. After all, many have suggested that door-to-door evangelism, street evangelism, and revival meetings do not work anymore—especially in the north. Sarcastically, I asked him what was his secret. He smiled and shared that they actively and consistently go door-to-door sharing Jesus, while also delivering the message through street evangelism. The pastor also mentioned that he leads his church through an annual revival meeting each year.
In other words, this pastor is a practitioner. He does not simply read the headlines on twitter or in an article and determine that evangelism fails to work anymore. He just shares Jesus. He leads the charge. Dr. Roy Fish said when speaking of the evangelist, “You will never be an effective evangelist in the pulpit until you are a faithful evangelist outside the pulpit.” The only way a pastor will develop an effective evangelistic presence in the pulpit is if he practices an evangelistic lifestyle outside of the pulpit. Acts 13:47 states, “For this is what the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.” Pastors, share Jesus!
Preach Personal Evangelism
“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
Since Jesus is the only hope for the world, pastors must convey this truth consistently. Sharing personal evangelistic opportunities from the pulpit will enhance the effectiveness of the witnessing enthusiasm within the church. Stories of encounters that were positive and negative will present an authentic reality that will dissolve many of the false assumptions that surround evangelism. Don’t be the pastor that always tells his congregation that he shared Jesus with someone, they surrendered to Christ on the spot, then immediately went and told fifty other people and they all came to know Christ. While this would be all of our prayers and hope, this just isn’t reality most of the time. Be real. Share about the times God wanted you to share but you refused because of busyness, fear, or pride.
Teach evangelism as a responsibility and privilege not as a gift. The gift is found in Ephesians 4:11 in the gift of the evangelist, but nowhere is evangelism seen as a gift. Regardless of personality type, effectiveness, desire, or ability, evangelism is the command, responsibility, and honor of each born-again believer. Model evangelism, and expect it from the people. Create a culture where gospel stories and conversations are the norm.