The church needs to focus on creating a Gospel-centered evangelistic culture rather than just claiming to be evangelical, says Dave Bruskas, teaching pastor and executive elder at Mars Hill Church.
In a new blog post, Bruskas advises churches to steer away from focusing on baptism numbers and instead work to incorporate seven characteristics of a local church with a similar culture, as noted by the Apostle Paul in the Bible.
"While many churches would consider themselves to be evangelical, I have personally found very few of these same churches to have a strong evangelistic culture, Bruskas writes on theresurgence.com. "I wouldn't evaluate this through the number of conversions reported by churches. That is solely the work of the Holy Spirit."
At the central of the Gospel is the simple message that Jesus saves sinners, says Bruskas. Regardless of the various types of sermons preached throughout a given year, churches should proclaim the person and work of Jesus as he says there is nothing more central to an evangelistic culture than doing this.
Bruskas also notes that pastors who live their lives like missionaries within their own local communities understand better that an evangelistic culture is "both taught and caught."
"Paul lived obediently to Jesus among both the religious and irreligious people in his world," he says. "Without compromising his faith, he lived in a manner that connected with lost people culturally. Then he walked through the open door where the gospel of Jesus confronts local cultural sin in a compelling way."
He added, "Some may push back and say, 'I am not gifted evangelistically,' or even, 'I am not first an evangelist, I am a pastor.' But you could make the same case for Timothy in the Bible-the very same guy Paul exhorts to 'do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.'"
Bruskas says churches should have non-believers consistently present in services. Furthermore, part of an evangelistic culture involves communicating with them clearly and biblically while giving them an opportunity to respond, he explains.
While love is a necessary characteristic in any church culture, it is also a trait evangelical congregations should embrace wholeheartedly, Bruskas explains.
"The best apologetic for the truth of the gospel is when those who believe it love each other in ways those who deny it can't," he says. "People in churches who love lost people also love each other in an affectionate and active way."
In addition, Bruskas notes churches that emphasize evangelism also produce a significant number of pastors who serve locally and are sent out globally. While numbers should not be the focus of a church, he does explain that embracing the multiplication of Christians is important.
He also advises churches to involve everyone within the congregation to serve according to their gifts.
"Diversity and unity come together in churches that do evangelism well. Evangelism is a team sport, and members contribute in different ways, but toward a single goal. The plan of 'each one reach one' isn't necessarily biblical and probably isn't practical. Some will share the gospel boldly and effectively. Others will serve more powerfully than they will ever speak," says Bruskas.
While these characteristics foster an evangelical culture, they cannot be implemented without persistence, explains Bruskas.
"A church with a robust evangelistic culture is patient and persistent. They don't change strategies with every new breeze of methodology. The focus is on health and longevity rather than change and explosive growth. Persistence requires walking in the same direction day after day and year after year. These churches plant seeds knowing only Jesus can produce a harvest," says Bruskas.
To read Bruskas' seven ways to create an evangelical culture, visit www.theresurgence.com.