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 S. Rainer is the founder and CEO of Church Answers, an online community and resource for church leaders. Prior to founding Church Answers, Rainer served as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Before coming 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.

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comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you Ed for sharing your insights into the Church Growth Movement. I have my reservations with Church Growth models because it has done more damage than good in the Body of Christ. Over the years, western churches are more focused on results, formulas and processes with little or no emphasis on membership and church discipline. Pastors and vocational leaders are burnt out because they're overworked. I do believe that the Church Growth model is a catalyst to two destructive groups: The New Apostolic Reformation and the Emerging Church. Both groups overlap and have a very loose definition. They're both focus on contemporary worship, expansion of church brand (franchising), and mobilizing volunteering members as 'leaders' to grow their ministry. Little focus on biblical study, apologetics and genuine missional work with no agenda besides preaching of the gospel.
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comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you for sharing such a good article. It is a great lesson I learned from this article. I am one of the leaders in Emmanuel united church of Ethiopia (A denomination with more-than 780 local churches through out the country). I am preparing a presentation on succession planning for local church leaders. It will help me for preparation If you send me more resources and recommend me books to read on the topic. I hope we may collaborate in advancing leadership capacity of our church. God Bless You and Your Ministry.
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