Don't Just Stand There, Say Something: Intention vs. Action in Evangelism

Simply praying for the lost is not enough.

The church in the West lives in exciting and challenging times. People are truly considering what it looks like to be a missionary in their cultural context now more than in the past 100 years. This has been a great thing for the church, and a large part of this new movement is because pastors are getting excited about missional ministry.

They are leading their churches to think and pray about how to contextualize the gospel in an increasingly post-Christian culture.

However, among the pastors of this new movement, there is concerning statistical and anecdotal evidence that the talk of ‘being missional’ is replacing the actual practice of mission as it pertains to sharing our faith with our friends, neighbors, coworkers, and family. I am convinced that the pastor drives both the intention and the action behind evangelism in the church.

Not too long ago I shared statistics and thoughts on the difference between intention and action regarding evangelistic efforts with Influence Magazine.

The first statistic I shared in the article was concerning prayer for nonbelievers: 90% of even the least evangelistic pastors of small churches pray for unbelievers by name, whereas 96% of the most evangelistic pastors make that a weekly practice. The statistics are high, even for the least evangelistic pastors.

The second statistic of note is the action of evangelism towards nonbelievers. Only 87% of the most evangelistic small church pastors share their faith on a weekly basis.

There is a nine-point percentage difference between how the most evangelistic pastors pray for the lost, and how pastors share their faith with the lost. As I mentioned in the article, “The intention is there, but the action isn’t matching up. In ...

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