Queen leads evangelism conversations around Arizona
By Charles W. Short | Mar 8, 2022
“The greatest enemy of evangelism is assumption,” said Matt Queen during an evangelism conversation with pastors and church leaders in Bullhead City Feb. 24. Queen is associate dean of the Roy J. Fish School of Evangelism and Missions, professor of evangelism and L.R. Scarborough chair of evangelism at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
From Feb. 21-24, Queen visited with pastors and church leaders about the topic of evangelism at five locations around the state. These meetings were initiated by Eddy Pearson, evangelism/discipleship facilitator with the Arizona Southern Baptist Mission Network.
The evangelistic assumptions Queen referenced include assuming church members are already saved, assuming people understand the gospel and assuming that someone else is gifted in evangelism and better prepared to win the lost.
Southern Baptists recognize that our evangelistic effectiveness is declining. In 2009, we accomplished one baptism per every 46 members. That ratio decreased yearly until it was one baptism per every 62 members in 2019. The year COVID-19 struck, the number plummeted to one baptism per every 114 members. While this last number had an extenuating circumstance, we cannot correct what we dismiss away, Queen said.
He approached this problem on several fronts. First, he helped churches consider all the things they do evangelistically, especially in the worship service.
Second, he provided a mirror, a way of evaluating a church to see how it measures up in evangelistic effectiveness. This opportunity for evaluation is also accessible through Queen’s book, Mobilize to Evangelize: The Pastor and Effective Congregational Evangelism, which was given to those who attended.
Finally, Queen encouraged the churches toward building evangelism into their culture. This information is accessible through Mobilize to Evangelize: The Pastor and Effective Congregational Evangelism, a book edited by Queen and Alex Sibley. Those attending also received copies of this book.
In the discussion, special attention was paid to the expectation and preparation for evangelism to take place in the worship service. Many suggestions were made, but special focus should be on the invitation, Queen said. It will help increase decisions if the pastor prepares for and plans the details of the invitation as carefully as he studies for the sermon, he said.
Self-evaluation of a church’s evangelistic efforts was recommended, and tools were made available for the task. Quite often, the people within a church struggle to see if their own patterns have lost effectiveness. Simple changes, like having female counselors available, can increase decisions, Queen said.
On the topic of creating an evangelistic church culture, one of the primary mistakes is a misunderstanding of giftedness. “Evangelism isn’t a gift, it’s a command,” Queen said.
In Scripture, everyone is given the task of sharing Christ with the lost world, he noted. Some are gifted as evangelists, but everyone is commanded to participate in evangelism. Individuals often state they don’t have the gift of evangelism, but even so they have the command and dismissing it is disobedience.
“What we celebrate, we replicate,” Queen said in providing another hint for changing culture. Every church should be looking for ways to recognize and celebrate when members do the task of inviting others to Jesus.
Many believers are intimidated to present the gospel. They will instead invite people to church, Queen said, but it is not the same. Invite them to Jesus first, and then the worship services will automatically be more meaningful to them.
The kingdom grows when individual churches grow. Churches grow when all members are obedient in sharing their faith, Queen said.
Charles W. Short is pastor of First Baptist Church, Fort Mojave.