Balanced evangelism in churches
Keith Manuel, Baptist Press
August 09, 2011

Balanced evangelism in churches

Balanced evangelism in churches
Keith Manuel, Baptist Press
August 09, 2011

— Balance. It’s a hard place to arrive in ministry. I think the problem comes,
at least in part, because as pastors and leaders we tend to lean toward our
passions. Our default is always the easiest place from which to work.

Two defaults in evangelism are missional or attractional methods of evangelism.

The missional approach sends believers into the community to interact with

Community projects like painting a school or repairing homes
in a particular neighborhood are missional approaches. Another example is
providing help for people in need through meals or yard work. These acts of
kindness open the door for sharing the Gospel.

The attractional approach brings the community to interact with church members.

Churches use events like musicals, fall festivals or sports
camps. Others may hold revivals or revival type meetings to attract their
neighbors. The event becomes a bridge for sharing the gospel.

Jerry Pipes, an evangelist who specializes in these two areas, once said, “The
question of which is better, attractional or missional, is like asking an
airline pilot who is over the Pacific Ocean, ‘Do you want your left wing or
right wing to continue flying?’”

You need both.

Church planter James Welch discovered the need for both approaches in his work
in New Orleans. By default, Welch
leaned toward the missional approach to evangelism. He led his church into
their community full force. His people wanted the community to know Harbor
Community Church truly cared for them. The church was living out their faith
before their neighbors.

After an associational training on attractional events in preparation for the
2012 emphasis of GPS 2020 (God’s Plan for
Sharing), Welch decided to try a more balanced approach. He led his church
members to hit the streets of their neighborhood again. However, this time the
members placed doorknob hangers inviting their neighbors to come to a special
series of worship services.

According to Welch, the church plant previously embraced an incarnational model
of sharing its faith, showing the glory of God to a lost world through a
lifestyle that exemplifies the incarnate Jesus. However, after the GPS
training the church made a language shift. They became invitational. The goal became
to connect a felt need to a relationship with Jesus Christ. From the worship
services to service ministries, the members and staff are now calling for a
response to the gospel.

The church’s methodology is to provide a clear, simple approach for church
members to share the Gospel through the balance of missional and attractional
events. The desire is to build relationships to intentionally provide a clear
invitation to be saved — because the only hope for families and their community
is Jesus Christ.

Many neighbors responded positively to the shift in language and methodology.
At the culmination of the series, Welch gave the participants an opportunity to
respond to the Gospel. Eighteen people indicated they wanted to surrender their
lives to Christ and receive His gift of eternal life. That was the largest
response the church has seen during a special emphasis since the work was

According to research commissioned by (the North American Mission Board’s)
evangelism staff through Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 92 percent
of the most effective evangelistic churches in the Southern Baptist Convention
used attractional events. In addition, these churches held 40 percent more
attractional events than the comparative group.

All Southern Baptist churches have the opportunity to receive training that
prepares them to host attractional evangelistic events in the spring of 2012 as
part of GPS 2020. NAMB has provided
evangelism training materials as free downloads on the website, GPS2020.net.

Also on the website are church and associational planning
guides, along with other resources you may need for your event. At the same
time, your state convention’s evangelism staff will be enlisting churches to
participate and provide training events, too.
Through our Cooperative Program work with the GPS
2020 emphasis, we can achieve a balanced approach to evangelism in our church
plants and churches.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Manuel is an evangelism associate with the Louisiana Baptist
Convention’s evangelism and church growth team.)