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Thom Rainer, President and CEO of Lifeway, argues that the secret to being an evangelistic church “is really no secret at all. Ultimately evangelistic churches see more persons become Christians through the passionate efforts of highly evangelistic Christians.”

And what characterizes these highly evangelistic Christians? Read on (bold type added for clarity).

1. They are people of prayer. They realize that only God can convict and convert, and they are totally dependent upon Him in prayer. Most of the highly evangelistic Christians spend at least an hour in prayer each day.

2. They have a theology that compels them to evangelize. They believe in the urgency of the gospel message. They believe that Christ is the only way of salvation. They believe that anyone without Christ is doomed for a literal hell.

3. They are people who spend time in the Word. The more time they spend in the Bible, they more likely they are to see the lostness of humanity and the love of God in Christ to save those who are lost.

4. They are compassionate people. Their heart breaks for those who don't have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They have learned to love the world by becoming more like Christ who has the greatest love for the world.

5. They love the communities where God has placed them. They are immersed in the culture because they desire for the light of Christ to shine through them in their communities.

6. They are intentional about evangelism. They pray for opportunities to share the gospel. They look for those opportunities. And they see many so-called casual encounters as appointments set by God.

7. They are accountable to someone for their evangelistic activities. They know that many good activities can replace Great Commission activities if they are not careful. Good can replace the best. So they make certain that someone holds them accountable each week either formally or informally for their evangelistic efforts.

How are you doing? I know the last characteristic isn’t present in my life right now. Be sure to read the whole article.

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22 thoughts on “Seven Habits of Highly Evangelistic Christians”

  1. bill crawford says:

    As someone believing in Reformed theology, I personally find the doctrine of election undermines my motivation to evangelize – I don’t see how I really can make a difference in someone’s eternal destiny (contra point 2 above).

    Kevin, you’ve faced this – how do you deal with this?

  2. Awesome article. Just wanted to point out that the original article uses the word “characteristics” rather than habits. I was confused when I read “They have a theology that compels them to evangelize”. While that may imply a habit, it’s not one.

  3. Malin Friess says:

    I would also be interested to hear how Kevin would respond to Bill’s concern.

  4. chris says:

    I agree that Kevin’s wording makes it sound like we can add to the number of the elect, but the flip-side is that the elect will be saved, so get busy planting and watering — God will make it grow. We ought to have high expectations of seeing people saved- because God has already determined both the outcome and the means.

    I get the feeling that your post is a bit of play acting- advocatus diaboli. Maybe…

  5. bill crawford says:


    Sorry I was unclear.

    I’m not trying to play devil’s advocate – this is a real problem for me. I wondered if Kevin has faced this and how he resolved this.

  6. chris says:

    OK. I would add that the ultimate reason the church spreads the Good News is not the salvation of sinners, but the glory of God. If we love Him, we want to see His wisdom and power on display. The salvation of elect sinners is a means to a bigger end.

    Hope you find an answer.

  7. David T. in Fayetteville, GA says:

    I would offer that Rainer is exactly right on all seven points. Having said that, his Armianism/Pelagianism comes through in his books (try Surprising Insights from the Unchurched…). That doesn’t mean we in the reformed camp can’t agree on some things with those folks.

    Bill, maybe your “Reformed theoloy” is evolving — consider Romans 10: 14-15 for starts…

  8. John Gardner says:

    Thank you so much for sharing with us today at T4G! It was wonderful to hear you in person.

  9. jeremiah johnson says:

    “Oh my, I just won someone to Christ who isn’t part of the elect, what have I done?!”


  10. Dave Bailey says:

    Dear Bill Crawford

    As someone who believes in Reformed theology, I find that the doctrine of election inspires my motivation for evangelism.
    I see how I really can make a difference in someone’s eternal destiny – by being the unimpressive means God chooses to use for the elect to hear the gospel. What an amazing privilege to be part of God’s mission to seek and save the lost!

  11. “Oh my, I just won someone to Christ who isn’t part of the elect, what have I done?!”

    Stated falsehood and blasphemed.

  12. Dan says:

    I’d say Bill’s question has been a dilemma for me at times as well, but I have heard it pointed out that Jesus still gave the Great Commission, and so we still have a role in the salvation of others by proclaiming the Gospel to them. Does that help at all?

  13. Sandy Grant says:

    Bill, putting it theologically…

    God ordains means (e.g. prayer and evangelism) as well as ends (the conversion of his elect).

    In addition, it might be helpful to note that the Scriptures often reveal that God works his purposes out through secondary causes (not all of whom acknowledge his influence on them) – think of Joseph and his comment about his brothers’ sale of him into slavery in Egypt in Gen 50:20 for example. See my comments on this topic of God’s sovereignty and human responsibilitymore broadly here.

    In terms of Scriptures, I have always been encouraged by 2 Tim 2:10. Paul has just summarised the gospel he preaches ( 2 TIm 2:8), and says that even though he is suffering and even in chains for the gospel, God’s Word is not chained (2 Tim 2:9)

    V10 then declares, “Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.”

    The doctrine of election is a comfort to Paul because he knows that even though he can be opposed or outwardly stopped no one can stop God’s Word in the impact God intends for it, so he keeps preaching, knowing that God will use it to save those he has chosen, but who have not yet believed.

    This lines up with Paul’s vision of the Lord in Acts 18:9-11 where the Lord encourages him to keep preaching despite opposition, “because I have many people in this city.” They were clearly the Lord’s elect, but they had not yet heard the gospel. So God wanted Paul to stay and preach on.

    God ordains means as well as ends.

    The Calvinist (to use the label) is encouraged to keep evangelising even when its hard or there is little obvious fruit, because he knows that God is in complete control and will work his purposes out regardless of human opposition.

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Kevin DeYoung

Kevin DeYoung is the senior pastor at Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina. He is chairman of the board of The Gospel Coalition, assistant professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte), and a PhD candidate at the University of Leicester. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have seven children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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