Outsourcing the Gospel: Why Most Churches Fail to Grow

–Daniel S. Ferguson

One of my favorite companies in the country has a saying about its associates: “We only have three types of employees: those who serve the customer, those who serve those serving the customer, and accountants.”

This company doesn’t hire someone who doesn’t fit that description. Fully 99 percent of their employees are customer-facing, all the way up to their CEO, who often directly handles customer concerns.

Churches often have the opposite paradigm, and this drives people like me absolutely bonkers.

Most churches I’ve met have a model where the expectation is that the pastor is the primary evangelist and that everyone else simply supports that ministry. Churches often pay that pastor to be the most common reason why a person comes to Jesus.

But let’s do some math.

Let’s say that this church is a common size, like 400 adult members. And let’s say that this pastor is exceptionally effective, averaging of 1.5 conversions per week. Any pastor would call this a huge win. That’s 78 baptisms per year, which for a church of 400 is a massive coup. That paradigm is clearly working.

Or is it? This is an exceptionally prolific pastor, a statistical rarity. Most pastors are not this numerically effective at evangelism. It’s also capped. There’s no way the pastor can go on like this. He can only meet so many people and cause so many conversions on his own.

But let’s say, for argument’s sake, that the church reversed the paradigm and considered its adult members to be “customer facing” and its pastor to be the “support.” If each of those 400 members only succeeded in converting one person each in a year (a very modest goal), this would be 400 new members, or 100 percent growth–over five times as effective as the pastor-evangelist model, and much more sustainable.

So why don’t more churches do this? I mean, it’s simple math, and all it takes is one successful invitation per year per person. That can’t be that hard. Seriously, literally everyone knows someone who doesn’t go to church, probably many people. Between work and social activities, everyone knows about 75 people fairly well. Statistics indicate that fully half of those people are the “nones” and that half of those left because of a lack of faith. That means they’re reachable!

So everyone knows about 18 people who are fully reachable, who will likely accept a well-crafted invitation to church, or at least to a faith conversation. Even if a person fails 17 times, they’ll still have an opportunity to lead one person to Christ that year. If everyone does that, it’s FIVE TIMES MORE EFFECTIVE than a pastor-led evangelistic model.

Why doesn’t this happen? Laziness. It’s simply easier to outsource the work to a person who’s clearly called to the Gospel. But we’re ALL called to the Gospel. So get off your behind.

If not laziness, then fear. Fear of rejection, or that you may not have enough faith or charm or whatever to lead someone to Jesus. My advice? Deal with it. Someone made the bold step for you, and it’s time you did the same. Salvation hangs in the balance, and that’s too important to let simple fear of rejection get in the way.


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