8 Reasons the Pastor Matters Most in a Church’s Evangelistic Efforts

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In my decades of studying churches, I’ve never seen an evangelistic church not led by an evangelistic pastor. Here’s why the pastor is so critical in this Great Commission task:

  1. The pastor who preaches every Sunday sets the agenda for the church. That’s true for both the positive and the negative; the church will do what the pastor does, and not do what the pastor doesn’t do. If the pastor is not doing evangelism, the church won’t, either.
  2. The pastor has the best opportunity to keep the challenge of evangelism in front of the people. New believers and young churches start with an outward evangelistic focus, but that passion dissipates without intentional efforts to keep it high. The pastor can take that lead.
  3. The pastor can be an evangelistic role model, even from the pulpit. Most church members have never had a role model for evangelism. They don’t know what a heart on fire for Jesus looks like – but they can see that heart in a red-hot pastor.
  4. The pastor can set the example of getting connected with non-believers. If anyone faces the danger of getting cocooned among believers, it’s the pastor. The one who intentionally gets out of the office to get to know lost people, though, shows the way for other leaders.
  5. The pastor has opportunity to tell stories of evangelism. I can still remember evangelistic stories my pastor told us decades ago as he continually reached out to others. Few people have as many listeners with ears ready to hear as a pastor does.
  6. The pastor can often enlist enthusiastic disciples to train. The leader must make the choice to mentor others, but evangelism ought to be one of the first lessons. As others have said, “Evangelism is more caught than taught.”
  7. The pastor can hold other pastors and staff members accountable for evangelism. Evangelism at its best is the natural response of believers who love Jesus, but it’s also a requirement of Christian obedience. Accountability among church leaders for this task is appropriate.
  8. The pastor can teach and emphasize the ordinance of baptism. God gave us that picture as a witness of the gospel, and believers who see it regularly are more likely to tell that story. In most cases, churches with strongly evangelistic pastors celebrate baptism more often.

Pastors, what else would you add to this list?


Editor’s note: This post was originally published at chucklawless.com.

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MDiv Preaching and Pastoral Ministry

The Preaching and Pastoral Ministry track prepares students for pastoral ministry in the local church with a special emphasis on expository preaching.


  • Evangelism
  • Pastoral Ministry
Chuck Lawless

Director of the Center for Preaching and Pastoral Leadership

Dr. Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions, Dean of Doctoral Studies, and Vice-President for Spiritual Formation and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary, in addition to serving as Team Leader for Theological Education Strategists for the International Mission Board. He previously served as a Vice-President for Global Theological Advance for the IMB. Prior to that, he was dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism at Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY, where he also served as Vice President for Academic Programming and the Director of Professional Doctoral Studies. He received a B.S. degree from Cumberland College and M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees from Southern Seminary. He is the author of eight works, including “Membership Matters,” and “Spiritual Warfare,” and has contributed numerous articles to denominational periodicals. He and his wife Pam have been married for over 25 years and reside here in Wake Forest, NC.

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