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Chapter 1

The Equipping of the Saints

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:14-15)

Good news – God has removed the separation between Himself and man. Anyone who comes through Jesus can now have a personal relationship with Him. This means that we are now able to experience the fullness of salvation and new life that He desires for us! This is, indeed, good news – but how will others know about this good news unless people are sent to tell them? This book is for every person who has the desire to see the people in their world find the same life-transforming walk with Jesus that they have found. The subject of this book is evangelism. We will specifically focus on personal evangelism, which is also referred to as lifestyle evangelism. You see, evangelism can have a number of different expressions in the Christian life. One of these expressions is speaking to crowds at a conference, a church, or other public gathering. Another expression of evangelism is a person’s individual commitment to be a witness who chooses to make Jesus known in the unique relational circles that God has given to them. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word “evangelism” in a very clear and understandable way, it is “the spreading of the Christian gospel by public preaching or personal witness”. It is the second part of this definition that we will be focusing on in this book. My heart behind this book is that you would be empowered to be the best personal witness of Jesus that you could possibly be to everyone in your world! I hope that by reading this, you will be equipped and released to be the soul-winner that God has also called you to be. Through these pages we will take time to carefully unpack what we have known as the Great Commission, making it a very natural and active part of your everyday life. We will explore the motivation (driving force) behind our evangelism as well as discover some incredible, Godgiven tools that will cause us to be more effective soul-winners. Let us begin by asking some very practical, but honest, questions concerning evangelism as we have known it.
Meeting-Centred or Lifestyle Evangelism?
For us to change the world, as the Lord desires us to, we need to dare to upset the status quo of what we currently believe effective evangelism looks like. For many years the Church has believed that effective evangelism predominantly happens on a stage. As a result, we have put most of our energy into getting unsaved people to come to meetings, arenas, and evangelistic events. Because of this, we have had unspoken rules and methods regarding what we believe effective evangelism looks like. These methods have encouraged us to persuade people to attend a meeting where they can hear the good news about Jesus, in the hopes that when an opportunity is given at the end of the meeting to respond, they will pray a short prayer and lift their hand to demonstrate what they just did – job done! While these evangelistic meetings should certainly have their place in every church calendar, if this is our ultimate plan for telling the whole earth about Jesus, it is really not working that well. Meetings and one- off events alone are not going to cause the same number of salvations that a more biblical model of evangelism could. To put it even more bluntly, if our current model of evangelism is our ultimate plan for changing the world, then why is it not changing the world? We must re-evaluate the methods of evangelism that we have used in times gone by, and begin to look at how we can reach the whole world, in this age!

Is Street Preaching Still Effective?
So, while we are here, let’s begin to ask some further questions about present day evangelism. We need to have some honest conversations about the methods that we are currently using and begin to talk openly about the evangelistic methods that actually work and those that no longer work. Let’s dare to open up these conversations so that we can be more effective soul-winners.

Being deliberately provocative, an example of one of these questions could be: is street preaching still effective today, or do the people we are trying to reach simply ignore us and walk past? It is honest questions like this one that are going to cause more people to be saved and direct our energies into the most effective methods. Now, I am certainly not against street ministry – when it is done well. I have been involved in a lot of effective street ministry outreaches over the course of my life. In the right circumstances it can be an effective tool for evangelism, but can we also be honest and admit that we have all seen some terrible examples of street preaching. Though we can certainly honour the courage and boldness of the person doing it, sometimes their presentation of the gospel is perceived as nothing more than judgemental, exclusive, and sometimes just downright scary. Street ministry done in the wrong way can push people further away from God, rather than drawing them closer in. I have walked past some street preachers in our city centre and have avoided them, and I am a Christian! I need to confess that I, a pastor, have gone into one store and out of another just to avoid their judgemental accusations and unloving rants. Think about it, if this is how Christians react to street preaching, then how do non-believers react? Yes, I certainly agree that seeds may have been sown by street preachers, but what I am asking is whether or not this is the most effective way for us to be obedient to the Great Commission in our generation.

A common argument for the effectiveness of street preaching is that it worked well in former times. Many people look to Wesley for an example of its power; however, we are no longer in the days of Wesley! Wesley found a way to make Jesus known in his day that produced incredible results; we need to dare to find an effective way to make Jesus known in our day! I remember watching a street preacher once, who was certainly courageous, and he also had a fairly good understanding of the gospel. Yet, for some reason, he could not see that absolutely no one was stopping to listen to him. With great gusto he continued as people walked on by. Meanwhile, I noticed on the benches not far away from him, there were many people sitting, maybe resting or waiting for their family who were in the shops. I couldn’t help but wonder how much more fruit this street preacher would have had from his day if he and his team changed their strategy? What if they turned off the microphone and spent the morning sitting next to people on benches, initiating natural conversations with them about their day, about life, and about God? I understand it would be less dramatic, and you would not have anything to show on your Facebook page of your labours, but the real question is: would it be more effective? If we quantify our success in evangelism by the amount of response and engagement in our message, rather than just the number of people who heard our voice, which method would actually be more effective in our generation? It’s an open question.

From my experience, people in this progressive culture appreciate honest and intriguing conversations more than being preached at. In my experience, they respond in a greater and more authentic way to a relational approach than to a non-relational one. Again, please allow me to underline one more time that I am not against good-quality street ministry or evangelistic outreaches that get the Church active and on the streets, I just don’t believe that this is where evangelism should end, or that we should place all of our hope in this alone to reach our world like the Lord has commissioned us to. Since the meetings and certain evangelistic methods that we have used are not proving to be as effective in our generation as they did in others, maybe it is time for us to add something else to these strategies? Perhaps we need to consider another model of evangelism? As mentioned earlier, there is a biblical model for evangelism. This model is not new, rather it is truer to the evangelism that we read about in the New Testament, especially in the book of Acts. I am referring to lifestyle evangelism. Lifestyle evangelism does not just encourage the Church to bring others to church meetings, it also mobilises and equips people in the Church to be effective soul-winners in their own day-to-day lives. This model does not rely on a celebrity preacher or a one-off event, rather it relies on an everyday person who loves Jesus. Allow me to emphasise the point that this is not some newly discovered or radical model of evangelism; rather, it is simply a return to the original design of evangelism. The blueprint plan of God was always for evangelism to be a part of the lifestyle of every believer rather than merely being an event or one-off corporate initiative. So, what about the question: should we have meeting-centred evangelism or lifestyle evangelism? My response is – can we not have both? If the projects we are using are working and result in people finding Christ in a genuine way, then we should certainly continue doing them. But, if they are not producing these results then we must not be hesitant or afraid to rethink, reshape, or even remove them. My main thought on this subject is simply this: what if we could create a radical paradigm shift in the thinking of the western Church regarding evangelism? A shift towards every follower of Jesus taking personal responsibility for evangelism. By doing this, we would mobilise a sleeping army that could invade the world with the life-transforming message of the gospel, having a greater effect than any of us have ever seen up to now. This change in strategy would also deliver pastors and ministers from being showmen on Sundays, who people come to see. Instead, they could be the “equippers of saints” that they have been called to be. You see, the Church was never meant to be a people storage unit where we are comfortably seated week-in and week-out, to be entertained. Rather, the Church is called to be a place where the people of God are trained, mobilised, and released into the harvest field. Today we find ourselves at a very crucial moment in history. Here and now, evangelism is something that we must get right if we want to see the world saved on the scale that Jesus desires it to be. It is time to flow with the Holy Spirit and to see a new level of spiritually empowered ministry. But this time, rather than seeing it only on a stage, we will see it in the lives of believers. How do we begin to see lifestyle evangelism naturally happening in the lives of believers? We will see it by empowering and mobilising the Church to be the Church outside of the walls of the buildings that we so often have been guilty of hiding within. The Church was never meant to be a building, a service, or a weekly meeting, but a community of people called out of darkness into the kingdom of light; a people filled with God’s Spirit, who carry the mandate of seeing the world introduced to a personal relationship with Jesus.

We must bring this conversation about evangelism into the lifestyles of believers everywhere. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are available for us, to empower us, not only on a stage but also on Monday mornings when we wake up to our very normal everyday lives. By enabling the Church to embrace this truth and to have a hunger for the reality of it, we will cause the swing that is needed in our modern culture to make a significant difference. The gospel was never meant to be a sedative that caused a believer to enjoy a restful life; rather the gospel is a stimulant that should awaken believers to a missional life. A life where the commission to see other people encounter Jesus is their personal responsibility.

Redefining Offices of Ministry
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13)

These verses in Ephesians 4 reveal to us that there are certain offices of ministry that God has called some individuals to; these offices are also commonly known as the ascension gifts. These are gifts that God gave to the Church after Jesus ascended. God still appoints certain people to the office of the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher. It is crucial that we understand that the purpose of the office, or grace, that these individuals have been given, is not for them to parade around on stages with their ministry title. Instead, the grace is given to them to train and equip others Even though certain offices or ministry gifts have been given by God to certain people, the fruit of each ministry gift should be seen in the lives of the people who are trained and equipped underneath these individuals with an office. This is “the equipping of the saints” that we see in Ephesians 4. It is time for a rewiring of the way that we think of ministry so that we can return to a biblical model of thought, rather than the model we have seen in our culture which has bred far too many spiritual celebrities. With this rewiring, we can then see the equipping of the saints effectively activated in the local church. Just imagine the impact we could have on the world if a large percentage of people who attend our weekly services made the decision to no longer just sit, watch, and be entertained on a Sunday, but rather to be empowered and trained to see God use them daily. Imagine the people who would be impacted beyond the walls of our churches and schedules if people saw themselves as the ministers of reconciliation and ambassadors that the Bible says they actually are!

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us [that’s every believer] the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:18-20 NIV)

My revolutionary cry is simply this: I see a world that desperately needs to be reached, yet at the same time, an army belonging to God that is fast asleep. It’s time for a Holy Spirit inspired awakening that will mobilise the Church again back into the harvest field. It is time to give the Church back to Jesus and the power back to the people! I believe we are standing on the edge of a fresh move of the Holy Spirit, a new era of what He is doing on the earth! But this next move will be very different from ones that have preceded it over the last few decades. It will be all about the empowerment of the seated saints that will cause them to arise and change the worlds they live in. It will be an awakening that makes us uncomfortable again for the gospel’s sake. Let’s face it, believers have been made far too comfortable for far too long and it is time for another great awakening. This awakening is coming! Are you ready?
Are you tired of just watching ministers on stages show you what they have learned how to do? Is there a hunger in you to get your sleeves rolled up and to see the people in your world come to Christ because of your individual witness? Are you ready for a personal rewiring of what evangelism is and should be? Are you ready to be commissioned and sent out to meet Jesus in the harvest field? Then read on, because you are exactly who I wrote this book for!
Andy Elmes' new book, 'Soul Winner', takes a fresh look at effective evangelism in the world today. This book is a compass for the go-getters, equipping them with everything they must know, to be successful soul winners in the Kingdom of God.
Daniel Kolenda
President and CEO of Christ for All Nations
Both Heaven and Hell await the outcome of what you do with this book. Eternity calls.
Glyn Barrett
National Leader Assemblies of God Great Britain
An excellent guide, full of powerful, practical wisdom for sharing your faith in the 21st Century.
David L'Herroux
Chief Executive of United Christian Broadcasting, Europe
Andy has the ability to put life in perspective, making everything seem possible and orbiting the reader around the heart of God for the nations.
Philip Smethurst
CEO and Founder of Overland Missions
Passionate, punchy, and very practical - flowing from a heart attuned to God's heart and a desire to see every believer freely and confidently sharing Jesus with others.
Stephen Elmes
Baptist Minister and Author

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Andy Elmes

Follower of Jesus, Pastor, Evangelist, Church Planter and Author

Andy, with his wife Gina, is the senior pastor of Family Church, a multi-congregational church located on the south coast of England. Andy is a visionary leader who has grown the church from twelve people on its first day to a significant and influential church in the UK and beyond. Andy has a wealth of experience and wisdom to offer that comes from a very successful time in ministry.

As well as planting churches, he has been involved in many forms of evangelism including travelling as an evangelist for many years across the UK and throughout the world. A highly sought-after conference speaker for events and conferences, Andy regularly shares on a whole range of subjects including spiritual leadership, building healthy lives and churches, and evangelism. His desire is to lead people to Jesus and help them to discover all that is now available to them through what Jesus has done for them. His personal mandate is “to know the King and to advance His Kingdom.”

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The ministry of Andy Elmes – husband, father, pastor, leader, speaker, mentor.

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