Evangelistic Churches and the MPI

What if you could look at the top five percent most evangelistic churches in America and find the common factors in their ministries? One of my twenty-year quests has been to take on that very challenge. My research, both anecdotal and scientific, has pointed me to several commonalities, but this latest discovery really excited me. Indeed I have found at least anecdotally one of those key factors that distinguishes the evangelistic churches from the others.

Defining the MPI

I call this differentiating factor the MPI: multiple points of intentionality. Here is the definition of MPI: The most evangelistic churches in America have three or more ongoing intentional evangelistic effortsThe key is that the local church does not depend on one, or even two, ongoing evangelistic efforts. Each of the churches I’ve studied has three or more.

Demonstrating the MPI

If my thesis is sound, churches should not depend on a one-and-done evangelistic approach; they should look to multiple points of evangelistic intentionality. Let me give you some examples of those points in the churches I’ve studied:

· Highly evangelistic small groups or Sunday school classesNot just any small group or Sunday school class, but those that have a DNA to reach people with the gospel.

· Ongoing prayer ministries for the lost. Most of these prayer ministries pray for lost people by name. Most churches pray for physical needs of people, but not spiritual and eternal needs.

· Community ministries with evangelistic intentionality. Again, the key is that these ministries to the community are ongoing and intentionally evangelistic. An example would be the “adoption” of a local public school to meet the needs of the students, teachers, and administrators.

· A highly evangelistic pastor. The pastor is sharing the gospel with someone at least twice a week. The pastor also makes local evangelism a high priority in the church.

· An evangelistic Vacation Bible School. VBS is the single most evangelistic church program in America today. But merely having a VBS does not make it evangelistic. Again, intentionality is key.

· A memorized evangelistic training program. Such programs as Evangelism Explosion and FAITH have been key to moving churches toward a more evangelistic mindset. Those programs fail, however, when it is the sole or primary focus of evangelism in the church.

· Evangelistic service events for the community. Community ministries, noted above, or ongoing. Service events take place on a regular but less frequent basis, such as once a quarter. They do not include Christmas or Easter productions that tend to have minimal evangelistic fruit.

· Relational intentionality. Church members are trained and held accountable for developing relationships with those who are not Christians.

· Ministry evangelism. This category is broad. It includes pregnancy ministries, food and clothes ministries, counseling ministries, and others. With community ministries above, church members go into the community. With ministry evangelism, the community members come to the church to get needs met.

Doing the MPI

Pastors and other church leaders often ask me how their churches can reach more people with the gospel. It would seem from this research that multiple points of intentionality are key.

The MPI tells us at least two key truths. First, one evangelistic ministry does not make your church evangelistic. Sadly, over half the churches in America don’t even have one. Second, churches have different “personalities.” They don’t have to do evangelism like other churches. It’s more important to pick three or more evangelistic approaches that will work best in your congregation.

The list above is not exhaustive, but it does provide good examples. Is your church involved in at least three intentional evangelistic ministries? What are some examples not on the list? What is your church doing to reach more people for Christ?

Read more from Thom here.

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Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources.  Prior to LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for twelve years where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism.  He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition to speaking in hundreds of venues over the past 20 years, Rainer led Rainer Group, a church and denominational consulting firm, from 1990 to 2005. The firm provided church health insights to over 500 churches and other organizations over that period. Rainer and his wife, Nellie Jo, have three grown sons: Sam, Art and Jess, who are married to Erin, Sarah and Rachel respectively.  The Rainers have six grandchildren: Canon, Maggie, Nathaniel, Will (with the Lord), Harper, and Bren. He is the author of twenty-four books, including Breakout Churches, Simple Life, Simple Church, Raising Dad, The Millennials, and Essential Church.  His latest book, Autopsy of a Deceased Church, was released in 2014 by B&H Publishing Group.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright
comment_post_ID); ?> "While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
— Ken

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