Spurgeon reminds us that the minister must first develop an evangelistic culture within his church to have a church of soul winners. Spurgeon suggests that this evangelistic spirit can be cultivated in two ways. First, the pastor must set an example before his flock in the area of evangelism. Second, the pastor must be intentional about training leaders in his church, and he must do all that he can to pass on his evangelistic fervor to those around him.
Why is it that most churches that hold to the doctrines of grace lack evangelistic zeal? If we are going to foster evangelism today in our churches, we must first build into its culture. Ray Ortlund helpfully notes that: “Gospel doctrine creates a gospel culture. The doctrine of grace creates a culture of grace. When the doctrine is clear, and the culture is beautiful, that church will be powerful. But there are no shortcuts to getting there. Without the doctrine, the culture will be weak. Without the culture, the doctrine will seem pointless.” In many Reformed churches, it is not the doctrine that must be tweaked, but the culture. Often, churches do not evangelize because it has not been built into their DNA.
There may be evangelistic programs and outreaches held by the church, but if the church culture is not evangelistic, this task will be left to a few committed church members. Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834 — 1892) was a pastor who understood that evangelism is not simply the pastor or missionaries’ job but the task of the whole church. Spurgeon writes:
Hence you will soon discover that you need help if many are to be brought in. The net soon becomes too heavy for one pair of hands to drag to shore when it is filled with fishes, and your fellow-helpers must be beckoned to your assistance. Great things are done by the Holy Spirit when a whole church is aroused to sacred energy. . . . Contemplate at the outset the possibility of having a church of soul winners. Do not succumb to the usual idea that we can only gather a few useful workers … Labor to gather a church alive for Jesus, every member energetic to the full, and the whole in incessant activity for the salvation of men. To this end, there must be the best of preaching to feed the host into strength, continual prayer to bring down the power from on high, and the most heroic example on your own part to fire their zeal.
Spurgeon saw the need for a culture of evangelism within the life of the church. The pastor can do two things to help cultivate an evangelistic culture in the church, though it will take time.
The Example of the Pastor
First, if we are to build a culture of evangelism within the church, it must begin with the pastor. The pastor must lead by example in evangelism and equip his congregation to reach the lost. If the pastor is not concerned with the salvation of the lost, then his church will not be either. This means that the pastor’s work is not merely to implement programs in order to create evangelism within the church. Rather, the pastor must labor to create a culture of evangelism within the church. How can this be done?
First, Spurgeon would suggest that the pastor must always be an earnest example to others. The “slow-coach minister will not have a lively zealous church.” This example begins in the pastor’s own private life. There is an intimate connection between one’s private life and public ministry. The pastor must be a man who walks closely with God. He must be a man who is quickened and stirred by the Word of God and burdened for the lost. If the pastor is to be an example to his flock, he must be a man possessed with one passion, namely, winning souls for Christ.