Barriers to Evangelism

Dr Gary McIntoshToday’s blog comes to us from my friend and fellow church growth strategist, Dr. Gary McIntosh. Gary is Professor of Christian Ministry and Leadership at Talbot School of Theology, and author of over 20 books and 100 articles on church growth, leadership, evangelism and pastoral ministry. Gary will also be joining me this summer as a keynote speaker at the Church Systems Check-up & Boot Camp (see the PS below for more info.) Here he focuses in on one of the key systems – Evangelism.

New churches are usually much more effective at winning new people to faith in Christ than older churches. For many reasons, as a church grows older it develops barriers that keep it from making new disciples.

The list of evangelistic barriers is long, but the following are a few reasons churches become less effective at evangelism. Once a church recognizes some of the barriers, it can then take action to eliminate them.

The major barrier is a low commitment to personal evangelism found in the members and regular worshipers of a church. Are a church’s individual members sharing their faith with friends, acquaintances and family members, or are they neglecting such activity? In newer churches, between two-thirds to three-fourths of people first attend due to the invitation of a friend or family member. As these new people get involved, they enthusiastically share their faith with other people with whom they come into contact. As this early enthusiasm wanes, the evangelistic potential of a church declines.

Related to this is the low evangelistic conscience found in many churches. The focus of sermons on biblical knowledge, historical events, and modern issues often comes with a reduced emphasis on the need for salvation. Or, another way to state it is, the recent emphasis on the Great Commandment often comes with a reduced emphasis on the Great Commission. Unless the fact of the lostness of mankind is preached passionately from the pulpit, a church is not likely to be passionate about evangelism.

Then there are differing perspectives between the “pioneers” and “homesteaders” that often lead to less evangelism. “Pioneers” are people who have been in the church for many years. They often identify with previous pastors and recall building projects that occurred years before. “Homesteaders” are newcomers who appear to intrude on the turf of the pioneers and identify closely with the current pastor. Typically the pioneers resist doing any new form of ministry that might reach new people for Christ (which would then bring in new homesteaders).

Another barrier is little training for evangelism in most churches. Churches tend to get results related to the training and teaching they offer. It’s not surprising that churches, which train their members to share the gospel, get the best evangelistic results. It’s not surprising that churches weak in evangelism rarely train and teach members to evangelize. Studies demonstrate that evangelistic churches train a minimum of 10% of their people yearly to share their faith.

Which of these barriers do you find in your church? How can you begin today to eliminate one or two of them? When will you start?

Your partner in ministry,


2015bootcampP.S. – You can hear more from Dr. Gary McIntosh as he joins me as a keynote speaker at the all-new 3-Day Church Systems Check-up & Boot Camp on July 22-24 at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Save $350.00 now with the Super Early Bird Rate – register now at

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About Nelson Searcy

Nelson Searcy is an experienced church planter, coach and church growth strategist, working with churches in over 45 denominations. Nelson is also the Founding and Lead Pastor of The Journey Church, with locations across New York City and in San Francisco and Boca Raton, FL. He first developed the Assimilation System 10 years ago at the Journey Church and has since implemented and improved these strategies with over 3,000 churches across all sizes and denominations. He started coaching pastors in 2006 and has personally coached over 2100+ senior pastors, helping them break common growth barriers like 125, 250, 500, 1000 and beyond, all while maintaining personal life and ministry balance. As founder of Church Leader Insights and the Renegade Pastors Network, he has trained more than 50,000 church leaders (3,000+ church planters). He is the author of over 85 church growth resources and 17+ books, including Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests Into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church and The Renegade Pastor: Abandoning Average in Your Life and Ministry. His continued mission is to help church leaders around the world cooperate with God in creating healthy, thriving churches. Nelson is married to Kelley and together they have one son, Alexander.

Nelson SearcyChurch Systems, Evangelism

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