3 Crucial Elements for Igniting Passion in Your Ministry

I’d like to tell you a story.  Here is a 3 minute read.

We had just moved into our first house as a married couple.  We had just started our first job in ministry, and it was our first time having friends over for dinner. I was excited to grill out for everyone and so I went out and got a charcoal grill to cook on for the meal.

I had never really grilled up until this point, and so I thought it would be easy light the fire.  In my mind I thought I would throw a match on the charcoal and it would just light up easily.

I remember trying to light the charcoal for the grill and having the hardest time getting it to ignite.  It would just not light up.  I ended up using lighter fluid and a hair dryer to get the flame going and we had dinner later than I wanted.  Also, I ruined my wife’s hair dryer. (Sorry again, Megan.)

After some effort and time the fire was ignited, but we ate later than expected.  Starting a fire was more difficult than I thought it was going to be.

Sometimes in ministry I’ve felt the same thing in trying to lead people.  Fire is such a great metaphor for passion, energy, and momentum.  We try and try to stoke the fires of passion around evangelism and ministry and often it seems like there is so much that keeps the flame from igniting in the hearts of our people.

But there have been times in ministry where I have seen God light a fire in someones heart.  When he does the results are amazing.

Passion is needed because apathy is so typical.  For our churches to be effective, we need a passion for the lost that is a burning flame.

But how can we influence people to be passionate about evangelism and ministry? 

I want to suggest three elements that are crucial to igniting a passion in your ministry.

Passion is ignited by personal conviction.

Do you have a conviction about your own personal evangelistic ministry?    Do you understand the example you are for good or bad in terms of personal evangelism?  Do you own the stewardship God has given to you of leading your class to reach people?

To be effective in evangelism as a leader you must have a conviction that the lost must be reached and that you must be personally involved in reaching them.

Passion is ignited by personal prayer.

Personal evangelism and disciple making are spiritual endeavors.  Reaching, teaching, and ministering are the categories of great commission ministry that the Holy Spirit does through us.

Nothing of any eternal consequence has ever been done without prayer.If we as leaders are not on our knees pleading to God that our class catch a vision for evangelism then it is unlikely to happen.

Passion is ignited by personal example.

Example is most effective if it is seen.  We must do good.  We must be seen doing good.

This means we must manage the tension between a desire to influence others with a right example and the desire to be seen of men to be admired.  Providing an example is critical.  Being prideful can destroy the spiritual work God wants to do.  We need the Holy Spirit to guide us through this effectively.

This past Wednesday my friend Tristyn Dibell was able to lead a lady named Kathy to Christ.  Her kids came to camp.  Trent and Tristyn have been intentionally following up on her and her kids.  They showed love to Kathy and shared the gospel with her and she received Christ!  Isn’t that amazing?

Here is the bottom line:  We can not expect people to be more passionate and involved than we are.  Passionless leaders who go through the motions don’t inspire passion in their followers.

Go participate.  Get a story.  Use the story to inspire others.

Examine your convictions.  Pray for yourself and your people.  Exemplify great commission ministry to those who follow you.

The Case for Face to Face Contacting

I want to take a moment and make the case for a personal face to face contact. Some people call it a visit, a door-step visit, or calling.

Imagine pulling up to a house. You have a partner with you.  If it’s your first time, you don’t have to say anything. Your just there to run interference and pray.  You have a gift bag or something else to give them like an invitation to your class, an upcoming activity, or a personal study guide with the content of what you’re learning in class. 

You knock on the door. The person you’re meeting with comes to the door.  You introduce yourself to them, let them know your from the church, that you aren’t trying to come in (this is when you see the relief on their face), but that you just wanted to meet them and offer them this gift bag.  You ask them about how they heard about the church. You ask them about their church background.  If they are open to further conversation you may even ask them about what they thought about the service or the class. This could lead to a spiritual conversation.  Usually the visit doesn’t go more than 5–10 minutes. That’s okay.

Here is why a face to face follow up is so valuable:

You saw their face and they saw yours.
Ministry best takes place in the context of relationships.  What just happened that couldn’t have happened with a letter, email or phone call? You saw their face and they saw yours!  Face to Face follow up helps to begin a relationship.  You get a context about where they live and what they are interested in.  If they came only for the first time to the service, they don’t really know anyone’s face but maybe the Pastor or Worship Leader.   When you see someone and make that connection and then they come to a Sunday School class, our chances of reaching and keeping that person goes way up. A recent study of 2 groups of people in churches over 5 years was done.  It included people who just came to the worship service and people that came to worship and to a Sunday School class.  16 % of the worship only people were still in attendance 5 years later.  86% of the Sunday School and worship people were in attendance 5 years later. Connecting with people face to face and getting them into a class begins the relationship that will allow for future ministry.

Your chance of finding out where they are spiritually goes way up.

There are conversations that can happen that are just more prone to happen if you are face to face.  When someone visited our church they experienced hearing the Word of God.  Frankly, it’s not that hard to get into a spiritual conversation with that person.  2 Questions you can ask to get to the spiritual are:

    • How did you hear about our church?
    • What’s your church background?

You got to do ministry with someone.

Often more is caught than taught.  Our jobs as leaders is to equip the saints for the work of the ministry.  Some of the people that I’ve been able to pour the most into in my ministry have been people who have sat in my passenger seat as we went and shared the gospel and ministered to others.  Who were most impacted by Jesus- the crowds of people Jesus ministered to or the men who did ministry alongside him?  The truth is that both were impacted.  Jesus discipled his followers through three methods:  knowledge (He taught them truth),  experience- (they watched Him minister), and coaching (He instructed and corrected them as they ministered).  Following up on people that God gives to us with someone else helps us have a venue for the experience and coaching parts of discipleship.

You are contributing to a change in the culture of our church from an inward focus to an outward focus.

We are doing visitation, in part, to try to create a culture in our church of evangelism and an outward focus.  We want a culture of equipping and expecting our people to get out of the four walls of the church to talk to people about the Lord.
You might be saying, wouldn’t it be better if you got an appointment?  If you can make an appointment, go for it.  Still, there are people who need to be followed up on who will not make an appointment that you could connect with by making a doorstep visit or dropping off a gift.
But what if they aren’t home, or won’t come to the door? When you leave a note, or gift bag it shows that someone followed up and that someone cares.  You can still make a phone call and make a connection that way.

The likelihood of you being evangelistic the rest of your life goes up.

My buddy Josh is my regular partner right now on visitation, and the first 2 times we got to go together we got to lead someone to the Lord.  The day after our second trip, here comes Josh to church beaming. He says, “I got to share my faith with someone today.”  I’ve seen it over and over again.  When people get involved in evangelism with others in their church their obedience to the great commission in other times goes up.

The initial face to face contact sets you up to do effective ministry later.

You’re more likely to have a more in-depth contact later if you get to know someone initially.  You may be able to get an appointment with someone once you get to know them.  A phone call or email from someone that they’ve met face to face is going to be a lot more effective typically.

God blesses obedience and effort.

Galatians 5 says, “Don’t be weary in well doing, for in due season you will reap if you faint not.”  If our Staff, ABF Teachers, and Care Group Leaders aren’t willing to follow up with someone who God has brought to our church, can we really call ourselves an evangelistic church that is being obedient to the Great commission?

We have a stewardship of the people that God brings to us.

If a person shows up to our church that is an opportunity that we can not ignore.

Those that go are the ones that get.  People can not respond to a gospel that they’ve never heard.  Why not make the time to do evangelism with your class and your church this week?