Evangelistic Culture VS Evangelistic Programs


Mack Stiles, in a current blog post for Crossway Books, wrote about 10 Things You Should Know About Evangelism. I found a couple of his points worthy of discussion.

1. Evangelistic programs will kill evangelism.

We need to replace evangelistic programs with a culture of evangelism. Programs are to evangelism what sugar is to nutrition: a strict diet of evangelistic programs produces malnourished evangelism. So, we should feel a healthy unease with regard to evangelistic programs. We must use them strategically and in moderation, if at all.

2. Evangelism flourishes in a culture of evangelism.

Much instruction is given about personal evangelism. And that’s right and good since we’re each called to testify to our own personal encounter with Jesus. But when people are pulling together to share the gospel, when there is less emphasis on getting “a decision,” when the people of God are pitching in to teach the gospel together, a culture forms that leads us to ask “Are we all helping our non-Christian friends understand the gospel?” rather than “Who has led the most people to Jesus?”

For Stiles, developing a culture of evangelism is much better than relying upon programs. And I might add that developing a culture is much harder.

Programs tend to be events or campaigns that come and go. It is true that they can serve as catalysts for developing a culture of evangelism, but many times, when the program ends, so does the evangelism. It’s out of sight, out of mind.

A culture of evangelism however, is one which is woven into the very fabric of a body of believers. It is not a special emphasis that is announced every now and then, but is something that is as natural as breathing.

A culture of evangelism is an everyday activity. It belongs to everyone wherever they may be. And it’s not always about the spectacular, but about the ordinary. Tim Chester writes that “most people live in the ordinary, and most people will be reached by ordinary people.”

So what do you think? Programs or culture? Or is there a balance?



4 thoughts on “Evangelistic Culture VS Evangelistic Programs”

  1. These are some great thoughts and something that we are dealing with at our church right now. We are planning a “revival” in the fall, the first one this church has had in a long time. There are those complaining and threatening to not attend and making statements that personal daily evangelism is the better way. The problem is none of them are doing it! I agree that a culture of evangelism is the best way but we have had a hard time getting our folks to do that. They seem to be comfortable and want to stay inside their Christian bubble.

    I think that instead of either/or it should be both/and. An evangelistic event may reach a few or challenge the church to be more aware of the lost world around them. I was saved at revival and obviously it has had long term effect on me. Some people are looking for the spectacular or the supernatural. Some are looking for Christ in the ordinary every day. I think that’s why Paul said “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.”

    1. I agree with you. I think it is a both/and type of thing in which sometimes, programs or events can create a culture and at other times, an evangelistic culture creates programs. I do think, like you, that we need some things like a program or event to awaken ourselves and others to the needs around us. Sometimes, a mission trip does that. I think the danger comes when we see evangelism as just a program of the church rather than something that is a part of all we do as we go about our life. Creating that culture is not easy…I wish I had the perfect solution but I don’t…especially in West Texas where we both serve.

  2. What and how you program should be driven by the culture you want to create and maintain. Its will be hard to prioritize evangelism in your ministry if you are not communicating its importance by programming some of it (training, evangelistic efforts, teaching). Cultures are not created over night or by just talking a lot about it – it has to be communicated through teaching, opportunity and example.

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