The Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton and the Caskey Center for Church Excellence in New Orleans, are both attentive to things that can help the church, and particularly in this case, evangelism, the desire was to focus on smaller churches.
How Big is Small?
You have to draw the line somewhere in defining, “What are we going to call smaller?” In this case, it was worship attendance of 250 or less. For many who are listening, they’d say, “Wow, that still includes some pretty good‑sized churches.
But at the same time, it does definitely get out of there, the megachurches and large churches that do have a lot of attendees and oftentimes can catch all the attention in the magazine articles and the illustrations that we see day to day.
Just on average, these churches, they’re seeing 12 new people make new commitments to Christ each year. The pastors themselves, most of them are reporting that they’re modeling evangelism in their church. We see that three out of four are saying that their attempting each week to try to share their faith, so if the pastor’s out there modeling this kind of behavior, to me, that’s a very healthy sign.
What Makes the Difference
If I were going to look at, among those that are doing really well ‑‑ 11.7 or more retained new commitments per 100 attendees ‑‑ versus the ones who are doing average or below, so the bottom 50 percent by that measure, of less than 5.6 retained new commitments per 100 attendees.
If I were going to compare those two groups, we see them different in several ways. One of them is their interactions with the unchurched, which portions of this are probably more controllable than others, but more evangelistically effective churches, by the measure we just talked about, are more likely to be comprised of previously unchurched attendees.
Forty-seven percent of evangelistically effective churches have a high percentage of unchurched attendees, 30 percent or more unchurched, compared to 27 percent of less effective churches, so 47 versus 27.
Additionally, those pastors are more often hearing feedback that they are strong at communicating with unchurched people in their worship services. That’s one dimension that we noticed popping out, was that interaction with the unchurched.
When It Comes to Evangelism, the Small Things Really Matter by LifeWay Research