7 Reasons Why Pastoral Leadership Is so Critical to Producing an Evangelistic Church


If you’ve read much of what I write, you’ve heard me say at some point, “I’ve never seen a strongly evangelistic church without a strongly evangelistic pastor leading them.” I stand by that statement after more than 25 years of evaluating churches. Here’s why I think pastoral leadership is so critical in this task:

  1. A pastor’s shadow falls long on a congregation. That’s especially the case if the pastor has been in that role for some time. What the pastor emphasizes, the church at least hears; what the pastor is silent on, the church gives little attention. A strongly evangelistic pastor will let his passion be known. 
  2. Many churches have never seen an evangelistic role model—and their pastor can be their first. They may have heard they should evangelize their neighbors and family members, but hearing the challenge is not the same as seeing that heart lived out. When the pastor who speaks to the church Sunday after Sunday regularly evangelizes, the church will have their role model. 
  3. Most church members do not default into evangelism; instead, they need a push from a trusted pastor. I would hope that believers would always maintain the evangelistic fire they had when they first turned to Christ, but that’s seldom the case. Most members “settle down” at some point and lose their zeal for telling the Good News of Jesus. They need someone whose evangelistic life is credible to challenge them – and their pastor has the most leverage to do so. 
  4. Pastors can model evangelism inside the church and outside it. Pastors who preach the Word should be sharing the gospel week after week from the pulpit. In that way, they model a gospel presentation each week. At the same time, though, they must not limit their evangelism to a “y’all come and hear” methodology; they must also get outside the walls of the church and model for their church what initiatory evangelism looks like. Their opportunity to influence others is huge. 
  5. Pastors have the opportunity to tell stories of evangelism. All believers face the danger of being cocooned among other believers, but that’s especially the case for pastors. Those pastors, though, who intentionally get out of their offices to meet non-believers, take the time to tell them the gospel, and then rejoice publicly when they become believers, set the evangelistic trajectory for a church. 
  6. On the other hand, pastors who don’t evangelize generally don’t talk much about it, either. Even if they are expository preachers working through books of the Bible, they’ll not likely spend much time on any text that emphasizes evangelism. It’s just easier to skim the surface of such a text than dig deeply into it and ultimately bring conviction on yourself.
  7. Lead pastors can hold other pastors, staff members, and church leaders accountable for evangelism. My experience is that many evangelistic pastors not only expect believers to evangelize, but they also equip them and hold them accountable. You typically cannot serve long with them if your heart doesn’t capture that same beat for evangelism. 

The significance of the pastor’s influence on a church’s evangelism is one reason why we at Church Answers challenge pastors to take the lead in “The Hope Initiative” (a resource to help churches “jumpstart” their evangelistic efforts). We’ve seen great results from this initiative—and I’m convinced pastoral leadership over the process is a primary reason why that’s the case.