Church, Practices, Reflections

Rick Warren on Evangelism

How much does evangelism cost? by Rick Warren

I believe one of the reasons so few churches engage in outreach is because they ask the wrong question. Too often, the first question asked is, “How much will it cost?” The right question is, “Who will it reach?”  How much is a soul worth? If you spend $500 on a newspaper ad that reaches one unbeliever for Christ, is it worth it?

If
your church gets serious about developing a comprehensive evangelism
strategy, it will cost money! With this in mind, let me share some
insights about financing your strategy, based upon my experiences as
Saddleback grew from four members to over 20,000.

First, money spent on evangelism is never an “expense;” it’s always an investment.
The people you reach will more than repay the cost you invested to
reach them. Before we held the first service of Saddleback, the people
in our small home Bible study went about $6,500 in debt preparing for
that service. Where did we get the money? We used our personal credit
cards! We believed the offerings of the people we reached for Christ
would eventually enable everyone to be paid back.

One of the
“miracles” of our dress rehearsal service was that a man who had not
attended our home Bible study came to that first service gave a check
for a thousand dollars when we took the offering. After it was over,
the woman in charge of counting the offering came up and showed me the
check. I said, “This is going to work!” Sure enough, we paid everyone
back within four months. (Please note: I’m not advocating that your
church use credit cards to finance it! I’m just trying to illustrate
how willing we were to pay the cost of reaching people for Christ.)

Often
when finances get tight in a church, the first thing cut is the
evangelism and advertising budget. That is the last thing you should
cut. It is the source of new blood and life for your church.

Second, people give to vision, not to need.
If “need” motivated people to give, every church would have plenty of
money. It is not the neediest institutions that attract contributions,
but those with the greatest vision. Churches that are making the most
of what they’ve got attract more gifts. That’s why Jesus said, "It is always true that those who have, get more, and those who have little, soon lose even that” (Luke 19:26, LB).

If
your church is constantly short on cash, check out your vision. Is it
clear? Is it being communicated effectively? Money flows to God-given,
Holy Spirit-inspired ideas. Churches with money problems really have a
vision problem.

Third, when you spend nickels and dimes on evangelism, you get nickel and dime results.
Do you remember the story about the time Jesus told Peter to go find
money in a fish’s mouth in order to pay the Roman taxes? In Matthew
17:27 (NIV) Jesus told Peter, "… go to the lake and throw out
your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will
find a four-drachma coin.”

I believe there is an important
lesson in that story: The coin was in the mouth of the fish! If you’ll
focus on fishing (evangelism), God will pay your bills!

Fourth, remember that “God’s work done God’s way will not lack God’s support.” This was the famous motto of the great missionary strategist, Hudson Taylor.

From Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox # 189, January 19, 2005, ©Copyright 2005 Pastors.com, Inc.