Shaila Visser, National Director of Alpha Canada, has spent the last eight years with church leaders across Canada. These were leaders of small and large churches in rural, suburban and urban areas. Through this research, she has learned what makes evangelism thrive in cities. Shaila consistently asked church leaders three questions:
- What culture are you trying to build?
- What impact are you having?
- What are your successes and failures?
By asking these questions, she has found what church leaders need for evangelism to flourish.
Key Learnings from Church Leaders
Shaila discovered that when it comes to evangelism flourishing in cities, the evangelism model leaders utilize is not as significant as the characteristics the church leader embodies. It is about the culture that leaders create for evangelism–a culture that leads to disciples making disciples.
To form this disciple-making culture, it requires hard work in the trenches. The goal is to build a culture of invitation where people in congregations are regularly asking, “What will I do to reach other people?” The congregation will look to the leaders in the church to embody what they should be doing in their areas of influence. Shaila has seen that there are four common characteristics that church leaders must embody to create this gospel-sharing culture.
Four Characteristics that are true of every leader
1. Church Leaders are Restless
- They are compelled by the love in 2 Corinthians 5 that says, “Christ love compels us because we are convinced that he died for us all.”
- They are agitators for the mission of the church.
- They bleed mission at the core of who they are.
- They are personally and intentionally building relationships with people who are far from God.
- They are reminded by God;
“God calls me back and says I want to make you restless, so the work of the ministry does not replace the mission of the ministry.”
2. Church Leaders are Relentless
- They fight for the mission at every turn.
- They celebrate the work of God and the work of their people to be active in their communities.
- They are relentless in the area of evangelism so people catch on to the mission as well.
- Church leaders use programs and tools to facilitate the culture they are building. However, they understand tools do not create culture–people create culture.
- They are relentlessly reminding the Church that people are far from God. They implore people to have a Kingdom perspective.
- They know that the greater Kingdom win is more important than their church win.
- Church leaders celebrate the Kingdom wins across the street and pray for John 17 to come to fruition because collectively the church sees more people come to faith when churches work together.
“Church leaders that are seeing Evangelism flourish fight for unity for the sake of Jesus name being lifted high in our cities.”
3. Church leaders are reproducible
- They are equipping lay people.
- They know disciples making disciples is the goal.
- They are mobilizing people and galvanizing their faith. This gives congregants a lifelong heart for the mission.
- Church leaders equip the saints for the work of ministry and start with their youth.
- They provide training and know people learn best while doing the work.
4. Church Leaders are Reliant
They prioritize prayer.
- Prayer is the foundation for all outreach work anywhere in the world.
- “Without prayer our proclamation has no soul.”
“The value of prayer bleeds out into your congregation, so pray together.”
They trust scripture.
- These church leaders believe experience cannot trump what scripture says. This compels them to lean into prayer by faith so that they can have God’s perspective for the lost.
- They pray Matthew 9–to see the laborers sent to the ripe harvest fields.
“Church leaders trust scripture more than what their eyes see and will find that the harvest is plentiful.”
They are fueled by the Holy Spirit.
- Church leaders remember if they totally mess it up, God still has it.
- They remember they are called to participate–like inviting people to Alpha–but they have to teach congregants that God is already at work in peoples lives. Ultimately, results must be left to God.
- They recognize their need for more of the Holy Spirit, not less.
- Church leaders allow the Holy Spirit to do the hard work that needs to be done.
“We can be reproducible without being reliant, but we can’t be relentless without the Holy Spirit.”
Shaila’s time spent with leaders of different church backgrounds has allowed her to learn that evangelism does not flourish based on employing the “right” model. Gospel-sharing culture largely depends on the culture a church leader is creating. This gospel flourishing culture is marked by leaders who embody four characteristics: restlessness, relentlessness, a reproducible lifestyle, and reliance.
This article was adapted from Alpha Canada’s Multiply Conference 2018. Watch Shaila’s whole talk below:
To learn more about Alpha and their ministry click here.