Many churches are dead while many are dying as an organization. This is owing to failure in administration and failure to fulfill their purpose of existence effectively. Reflection through the historical past, patterns utilized in the first century ecclesiastical community and biblically contextualized patterns from the pastoral practice of the church through the centuries, can be very essential for formulating relevant aims and objectives to revive our dying churches and to enhance effective growth through evangelism.
Dynamic and effective leadership is a key to growth and success in any organization, including the Christian church. The scarcity of leadership skills in our society does not merely mean scarcity of people, but rather a scarcity of people who were willing to assume significant roles and get the job done effectively. Churches today need competent leadership that will maintain high motivation and moral within their communities.
In this article, we shall focus upon the necessity, hurdles and strategies for effective evangelistic mobilization. Let us firstly have a preliminary consideration of the words we will be focusing on.
It is expedient to establish a full explanation of what is meant by administering the local church through mobilization for evangelism. Basically, three key words or concepts need special attention and they are Administration, Mobilization, and Evangelism. We have earlier defined administering in the introduction. We shall define mobilization and evangelism.
The term mobilization has its root in the word mobile which basically means movable, to move, changeable or capable of being easily moved. The word mobile could also mean an individual’s ability or a group’s ability to move from one social level to another. Thus, the verb mobilizes means to put in a state of readiness for active service. It would also mean to organize or undergo preparation for action.1 Similarly the Oxford Thesaurus gives some synonymous words for the word mobilize which include: activate, rally, call up, prepare, levy, muster, organize, enlist, enroll, conscript, assemble, marshall.2
Administering the local church through mobilization requires a motivational leader with the ability to motivate and move people into action in an organized way or planned target or objective. In his book, Be a motivational leader. Lair Elms underscores that a highly motivated people are hard to stop.
“To a group whose motivation and moral is high, problems
appear conquerable, goals seem attainable, and opposition
is nothing more than a stepping-stone to success. If under the
power, guidance, and control of the Holy Spirit, the leader can
develop a warm zeal for the task in the hearts of the people…
then his job is a joy. But if the people are cold and
uncommitted his job is a drag”.3
There are key questions for this topic, which are essential for consideration:
1. What makes a leader a mobilizer?
2. What do some leaders have that can inspire people to enthusiasm for the work God has given them?
3. Is it the gift or an ability that can be learned?
We could note that it is the knowledge and practical application of sound leadership principles that are biblical and relevantly contextual which would make a leader the mobilizer he ought to be.
Several New Testament words are used to clarify the meaning of evangelism including such words as preach, herald, teach, witness and disciple. One clarifying word is that which is often translated “PREACH“. It is the Greek word evangelizo which means “to announce good tidings” or “to preach the gospel”. In Acts 21:8, Phillip was designated as the evangelist, which means he went about telling the gospel. The New Testament evangelist is one who spreads the good tidings of redemption and attempts to persuade people to receive Christ (acts 13:32/Heb.4:2).4 Hence the Living Webster English Dictionary defines evangelize as “to instruct in the gospel, to preach the gospel and convert.”5
The other Greek work is Kerusso which means “TO HERALD” and is also translated to “preach or proclaim. The messenger of an ancient king went from village to village heralding the decree of the king. The emphasis is on a simple setting forth of a truth, not on the response of the hearer, but on the proclamation of the gospel… (Matt. 3:1:4:12:24:14: a Tim. 3:16).6
The third word is the Greek word Didasko which refers to holding discourse with others in order to instruct and it means “TO PREACH“. Teaching means more than announcing the truth: it involves clarifying and illustrating the plan of salvation. When a person responds to the plan of salvation by accepting Christ, teaching becomes evangelism. In describing the evangelism of Jesus, it refers to holding discourses with others in order to instruct. Jesus secured eternal results through teaching …Matt. 9:35.7
The fourth word is the Greek word Mathateuo which means “TO DISCIPLE“. The term is concerned with results and carries with it the idea of converting. The converted one is made a learner or student and therefore a disciple or follower. Jesus commissioned His disciples to make disciples of others – Matt. 28:19.
The last word is the Greek word Martureo which means “To bear witness: A witness gives evidence(s) or substantiation of the truth. A witness tells what he has seen, heard, or experienced. A Christian witness tells others what Christ has done for him – that is, what he has seen, heard and experienced (Acts 1:8; 2 Jn. 1:1-4).
The task of evangelism in view of the above-mentioned concepts is rightly stated by C.E. Autrey in the following way: “evangelism is to bear witness to the gospel with soul aflame and to teach and preach with the express purpose of making disciples of those who hear.” Also John R. Mott defines evangelism in the context of result: “the declaration of the gospel of Christ, either privately or publicly by a messenger of God so that man might repent of their sins, turn to God and live abundantly.”8
To have a full comprehension of the dynamics in administering the local church through mobilization of evangelism, the above stated considerations must be taken into account. Consideration of the meaning, scope and concept of the key words such as administering, mobilization and evangelism is inevitable.
The Necessity for Mobilization
One of the great dangers facing the church in evangelism is the lack of concern and active involvement in touching the lives of others who are without Christ. A revitalized zeal must be evidenced in churches’ programmes so as to transform Christians into active soul winners.9
In real evangelism, every possible method and every effort must be applied inside and outside the church door to bring people to Faith in Christ and membership in His church. Each new generation of Christians must communicate the gospel to its peers. Methods and techniques used to do this must take into account biblical mandates and contemporary society with its values. Francis Schaeffer, in his book, Escape From Reason, underscores that “those who would share Christ must understand those to whom they minister and relate to them appropriately”.10 It is essential that warm emotional feelings should accompany evangelism. No matter what culture or method is used the warm evidence of Love MUST radiate from the soul winner.
Many reasons could be given to justify why mobilization is necessary in any form of administration, especially, administering the local church. Four key reasons are given for our consideration.
A. Mobilization is Necessary to Control the Operation
Necessary control is the only way the results achieved in evangelism will conform to plans previously made. This implies that planning is involved as well as organizing and directing in the whole process. Apart from these major tasks the leader must perform activities designed to ensure that the results achieved conform to plans made and approved. When authority is delegated or directed the leader is still responsible for the work and controls are built into the assignment such as deadline, periodic progress reports or a budget.
Several factors influence the effectiveness of controls: (1) using mistakes as a basis for improving future performance, instead of taking pride in triumph and gloss over errors; (2) being systematic in personal activities, scheduling and controlling the work of other people and the resources available; (3) having a sense of timing in making things jell in your church or department by knowing the people, mastering the fundamentals while using logic over emotion and (4) knowing how to use information to improve operations.11
B. Mobilization is Necessary to Equip Workers
This whole area of mobilization or motivation centres upon involvement with people and it includes the ability to gain the respect of people as to having influence over them. Competence and excellence in leadership require meaningful relationship with people. A leader essentially must manage, direct or lead people. One important aspect of leadership role is the manner in which you talk to, help and relate to people.
A leader must be able to relate to others for many reasons: 1) It helps to induce change in the leader and the other person; 2) It helps a person develop his own personality by opening up; 3) It helps in understanding where the other people are.12 Gene a Getz puts it this way:” For communication to be qualitative, it must get beyond the verbalization level into the visualization and then to the level of involvement.” Also he emphasized that there should be a balance between a ministry to groups and a ministry to individuals as demonstrated in the life of Paul to Silas and Timothy. Effective Christian motivation must include an in-depth ministry to a select group as well as a ministry to the larger group of Christians.13
God gives the leader the responsibility to develop the people committed to his charge. Every person needs further development and training (2 Tim. 2:2; He.12J. Each one has been given a gift by God that the spirit of God can use to enrich and deepen the lives of others for their work of service in building up the body of Christ. Apart from Personal development, people could be mobilized through special training in skills for evangelism. Such training could be formal as in a classroom setting or informal as the trainee learns by doing.
In my interview with the pastor of one of the fastest growing churches in Freetown, Pastor Carew of the New Evangelical Assembly of God church on Wellington Street, he said to me, “I train my evangelists by going out with them and, let them see and do the job themselves. I teach them some principles, I organize them, I supervise them and let them learn on the job. They become very excited and they grow also from their mistakes.”
C. Mobilization is Necessary to Achieve Objectives
The managerial functions of planning, organizing, motivating and controlling are all engaged in getting things done with and through people. An effective leader gets things done because he utilizes a workable method and has the ability to motivate others highly. He also becomes successful when he is task-oriented. This means he must learn the resources available to his church organization and study the means to arrive at goals and approved plans. He must have the ability to define policies and procedures in order to organize the activities of his people toward the common goal. This is the art or science of getting things done through people.
Goal setting is the starting point for results and it must be special. State the objective with tangible reasons for achieving it and an outline plan to achieving it.14
D. Mobilization is Necessary to Maximize Meaningful Participation
Several reasons and factors may serve as impediments to maximum participation in the outreach program of the church, but effective motivation and mobilization can overcome unwillingness and carefree attitudes. The mobilizer needs to study the situation and come up with tangible reasons why it is necessary that the people should do what he wants them to do. In the case of mobilizing the church for evangelism, there are manifold convincing reasons that church members cannot escape. The reasons for evangelism listed below should cause the believer to examine and evaluate his own evangelistic interest or activities and be motivated to help in the evangelistic and ministry of his church: (1) Jesus commanded His disciples to go and make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19; Acts 1:8). Hence evangelism is a command that each believer must obey. (2) Love for Christ compels evangelism. Jesus said to his disciples, “If ye love me keep my commandments” (Jn. 14:15) also Paul indicated that the indwelling presence of Jesus Christ in the believer should motivate him to evangelize (2 Cor. 5:14); (3) The lost condition of men should compel Christians to evangelize. All men outside of Christ are lost (Rom. 3:3; 6:23; 3:6), and Christ is calling them to Himself (Matt.11:28). Love for our relatives and fellowmen should compel us to evangelize them as Andrew did in John 1:41; (4) God has entrusted believers with the stewardship of the gospel according to God’s directive (1 cor.4:11); (5) The lack of workers is a very serious issue to challenge believers to evangelize. Very few are witnessing. More must evangelize. This attitude of neglect in fact caused Jesus to address the issue in Matthew 9:37. The primary emphasis of a local church should be evangelism. Social action, education, fellowship or community services are secondary.15
Mobilization as an indispensable ingredient in leadership is necessary to control operations, to equip workers with willingness and competence, to achieve approved objectives or goals, and to maximize meaningful participation.
The Hurdles toward Evangelistic Mobilization
It has been established that highly motivated people are hard to stop. While this statement is highly true on the one hand, it is also true on the other hand that there are possible impediments that may slow or completely kill every mobilization effort. Some of these impediments may be spiritual problems, physical problems or natural problems. Some may be from the mobilizer or from the people being mobilized or just from the environment. It is important to identify each hurdle and find a strategy to overcome it. Difficulties and hurdles for leaders usually come in two forms: (1) problems with the group, and (2) problems in the life of the leader (mobilizer). We will consider three elements, which can stand in the way as hurdles.
A. Poor communication as a Hurdle
An effective leader should keep the lines of communication open, if not he may be heading for disaster. Poor communication leading to misunderstanding kills every good intention a person has and in fact puts people at war against each other. This is vividly illustrated in the life of Moses when he killed the Egyptian who attacked his Jewish Kin. Scripture says, ‘for he supposed his brothers would have understood” (Acts 7:25). But they did not understand his intention. Had they known Moses’ intention they, along with Moses, may have killed millions of Egyptians secretly. Instead, Moses was accused by them so embarrassingly, he had to flee from the Egyptian palace for his life.
Some leaders fail in this area. They assume that people know what is going on. Therefore, the people should respond accordingly to their intention. Only God knows what is the mind of each person without that person disclosing it. In fact, a leader may have a good intention, but poor communication may cause nobody to see the value of it or understand it. Effective communication to your church members will create likemindness and an agreement to embark upon an adventure. The message of effective communication makes sense to the listeners. Effective communication accomplishes something. At least it should motivate people into thinking or into action or both. It should unite your mind with the minds of the listeners (likemindedness). Likemindedness creates unity, agreement in purpose and cooperating to execute a particular goal.
B. Spiritual Failure as a Hurdle
From the Garden of Eden, Satan had always tried to distort or destroy God’s programmes through man. Therefore, Satanic forces may be in operation to destroy any good evangelistic plan by a church or a group of believers. As a mobilizer, a leader of an evangelistic expedition, it is important that one becomes very sensitive to spiritual impediments. Prayer and fasting help to remove spiritual obstacles as well as physical ones. Also, holy living is a powerful weapon in spiritual warfare (Jam. 5:16-20). The use of the biblical authority of the word of God as the foundation of one’s plans or evangelistic expedition helps to bring spiritual success instead of failure (Jos.1:8; 2 Tim. 3:16).
In his book, The making of a Christian Leader, Ted W. Engustron outlines some hurdles of leadership which he calls the “Price of Leadership”. His thesis is that every worthwhile accomplishment has a price tag in terms of hard work, patience, faith and endurance. He lists some aspects in which the cost is high for any person in leadership as follows:
1. Criticism – Every leader has to expect some criticism. If one cannot handle it, that means he is emotionally immature. This defect will eventually show up and impede his and the group’s progress towards the common goal.
2. Utilization of Time – Managing our time really means managing ourselves. One who plans his time more effectively will far outperform others who don’t. Also, Christian leaders must take time for creative thinking, meditation and determine the best methodology to meet the goal, as well as problem – solving.
3. Making Unpleasant Decisions – Many a time it becomes the duty of an effective leader to remove or rebuke someone who is not performing up to the stated standard. A person who consistently fails to perform with distinction is a hindrance to a church’s or organization’s effectiveness. When an evangelism team is confronted with such a hurdle something needs to be one. It is not easy especially when it needs to meet the approval of the church.
4. Rejection – so many reasons may be given for the rejection of a leader or a good evangelism plan for the church. A Christian leader must also be prepared to face the hurdle of rejection. He must lean upon Jesus and develop good ego-strength to cope with rejection.16
C. Personal/Interpersonal Problems as Hurdles
While pride, jealousy, hatred, slander and other sins may be manifested as well on the interpersonal level, other personal problems such as lack of interest, excuses, incompetence and other things may serve as impediments.
In my interview with Pastor Carew of the New Evangelical Assembly of God church he told me that some unwilling members have given lots of excuses, some he managed to counsel and they joined the evangelistic work of the church. Most of these turn out to be very faithful and fruitful. On the other hand, some have genuine excuses and do not join at all.
Pastor Carew also underscores that failure in a particular adventure has sometimes served as an obstacle in that it brought discouragement to the team and the young immature ones became downcast. Hence good planning is very important, taking into consideration feasibility study, finance, logistics, manpower and a month of special prayers before launching out.
Man as a social being sometimes encounters friction in his personal interaction with his fellowmen. Pastor Carew also told me that sometimes interpersonal friction comes out: However, as a Pastor, he exercises his pastoral function to counsel those involved and encourage them to maintain unity, peace, and a forgiven spirit (2 Cor. 2:9-11). Like Lair Elms, Pastor Carew believes that the value of a united team cannot be overstated. He has the concept that all of us will do more and do it better than a few isolated individuals (1 Cor. 12:20-27).17
In administering the local church through mobilization for evangelism it is expedient to communicate effectively, because poor communication can lead to disaster. The administrator or Mobilizer must be sensitive to spiritual discrepancies such as critics, use of time, unpleasant decision-making, rejection and other negative effects due to satanic forces. Prayer, fasting, holy living and the use of biblical authority in spiritual warfare is necessary. Moreover, interpersonal problems must be resolved interpersonally and with pastoral care.
Strategies Toward Effective Mobilization
In terms of strategy much has already been said in each Chapter and subheadings. Almost all of the points covered have some kind of strategy or principle toward effective mobilization. Thus this section will comprise a general overview of systematic strategies.
A. Some Basic Principles to Consider
Before a person takes on a leadership responsibility, he should weigh the matter carefully. The leader will be held in more severe and stricter judgment than his followers, (James 3:1). However, when God has called you to a task He will work in and through you to do His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13). Seek to be a goal-oriented leader who is aspiring and working efficiently.
Secondly, an effective mobilizer for evangelism must be one who makes an impact on people’s lives. One who makes an impact for God is wholehearted (2 Chron. 31:21; Col. 3:23; Ecc. 9:10), and single-minded in his approach to his job.
Thirdly, it is very important to understand the dynamics in the excelling of some leaders. Leaders who excel are those who put out programmes that are fresh and alive, with the people involved very enthusiastic, motivated and productive. These are leaders who desire to do things with excellence in Christlikeness. They are initiators and they are creative in trying new and different things to get more done for the Lord.
A mobilizer or Christian leader should have as one of his prime goals, the meeting of the needs of the group or church entrusted to him. It should revolve around the deepening of the spiritual lives of the people he leads so that they grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ, developing in them effectiveness for Him and deepening their devotion.18This aspect of meeting needs is interfused with resolving difficulties and surviving dangers.
B. Some Basic Methodological Steps.
From this writer’s own experience and information obtained during research for this book the following steps have been offered as practical strategies for evangelistic mobilization.
Step One: Vision
As Isaiah worshipped in the Temple a vision came to him. He saw his own unworthiness as well as that of his community, but cleansing and enlightenment came to him and he was commissioned and sent with a special task Isa. 6:1-13). It is very important for a leader or mobilizer to spend time with the Lord and get vision from the Lord. A clear vision from the Lord can give assurance of the Lord’s presence and vindication of whatever ministry or task Christians undertake. A vision would be a foresight of what lies ahead. At this point of vision it is important to do some critical thinking as to the nature, scope and anticipated result of whatever evangelistic expedition is to be embarked upon. Herein is a leader who is goal-oriented. He takes the initiative to establish a sense of direction in order to ensure progress and achievement.19
Step Two: Personal Contact
Nehemiah went to Jerusalem, surveyed the task he went to perform, and personally met with the people to share his plan and vision with them. (Neh. 1:11-18). A Christian leader or mobilizer ought to make personal contact with people to share his dreams, aspirations and visions. Some would include only personal friends, but for an evangelistic expedition for the Lord it is important to open-up to whoever the Lord may send (especially gifted and competent people). At this point it is basically to share and discuss with experienced Christians who would counsel and support your vision or aspiration. They may even support prayerfully if they are unable to be a part physically.
Such a kind of personal contact helped this writer when he was the chairman of the Outreach committee of the Sinkor Evangelical Church in Monrovia, Liberia. It was like an underground work to mobilize church members into getting involved in the church outreach activities. I visited some at their homes and some I talked with after church service on Sundays. Some gave me advice; some gave me support while some became key figures in the outreach activities of the church with zeal to work.
Also, Pastor Carew of the New Evangel A.O.G. Church told me that he reaches out to personally contact those with gifts and potentials for ministry. Then, he encourages and trains them to be more effective.
Step Three: Planning
After obtaining insight from other people, proper planning is to be done. At this point the Christian leader or mobilizer must apply his ability to define policies and procedures, and to organize the activities of his people toward the common goal. Hence technical skills, human skills and conceptual skills must be appropriated. The technical skill enhances the ability to use knowledge, methods, techniques and equipment necessary for the task. Human skill enhances the ability and judgment in working with and through people. Conceptual skill enhances the ability to understand the complexities of the overall organization and where one’s own operation fits in.20
Step Four: Publicity/Motivation
The idea of publicity is likened to sales agent who wants to sell his product. Publicity would be to declare publicly your desire or vision in an appeal so as to have other people support your campaign. This is the time to really motivate people. Publicity of a church should utilize the announcement time, bulletin board, handbills and other communicational media to attract people.
Step Five: Organizing People and Activities
In order to avoid confusion, disorder or anything that may bring failure, proper organization of people and various activities is inevitable. After publicity many people may come to be part of your campaign. This is the time for the formation of different committees or teams such as singing group, prayer group, counseling team, evangelists, tract team, etc. The purpose of organization is also to basically achieve goals. Also, time frame logistics and the utilization of resources to achieve objective are some of the major tasks. These are all important in effective mobilization.
Step Six: Control of Operation
From step one to the end of each evangelistic campaign, the mobilizer or Christian leader must be in control of the entire process. This means he appoints and delegates responsibilities to faithful members as well as takes responsibility of the entire success or failure of the campaign. It is very important to have this in mind especially when you are dealing with a bright church or a big crusade or campaign. Control of operation is important whether it is door-to-door evangelism, open-air evangelism, tract evangelism, church evangelism or crusade evangelism.
Mobilization for Evangelism is an asset in promoting the Great Commission of Jesus Christ. The love of Christ in believers is passed on to a sin sick world through effective evangelism as a way of life. It is a thrilling experience to see non-believers coming to the faith in Christ Jesus and becoming members of a local church. We have looked at the necessity, hurdles and strategies pertaining to Mobilization for evangelism. The Great Commission of Christ is still the unfinished commission.
1Colin Brown ed. The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology
(Exeter, Devon: The Pater Nostra Press, 1980), p. 638
2Ted W Engstorm, The Making of a Christian Leader (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1976), p. 24
3Webster, p. 613
4Urdang, p. 75
5Leroy Eims, Be a Motivational Leader (Wineaton, Illinois: Victor Books, 1987), p.8
6Elmer L Towns, Evagelize Thru Christian Education (Wheaton, Illinois: E T T A., 1981), p.7
7Webster, p. 339
8Towns, p. 8
9Ibid., p. 7
10Ibid., p. 8
11Ibid., p. 5
12Francis Schaeffer, Escape from Reason (Downers, Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1968), pp. 93-94
13Engstrom, p. 179
14Ibid., p. 194
15Gene A Getz. Sharpening the Focus of the Church (Chicago: Moody Press, 1974), pp. 182-185
16Engstrom, pp. 137-138
17Towns, pp. 10-11
16Engstrom, pp. 95-101
19Eims, Be a Motivational Leader, p. 115
20Leroy Eims, Be the Leader you were meant to be (Wheaton, Illinois: Victor Books, 1987, p. 116
22Harold Commins, Starting New Churches (Nairobi: Baptise Publishing House, 1980) pp. 10-11
23Ibid., pp. 11-24
24Jack Redford, Planting New Churches (Nashville: Broadman Pree, 1978), p. 121