How Much Does Evangelism Cost?
-- I believe one of the reasons so few churches engage
in outreach is because they ask the wrong question. Too often,
the first question asked is, “How much will it cost?”
The right question is, “Who will it reach?”
How much is a soul worth? If you spend $500 on a newspaper ad
that reaches one unbeliever for Christ, is it worth it?
If your church gets serious about developing a comprehensive
evangelism strategy, it will cost money! With this in mind, let
me share some insights about financing your strategy, based upon
my experiences as Saddleback grew from four members to over 20,000.
First, money spent on evangelism is never an “expense;”
it’s always an investment. The people you reach will more
than repay the cost you invested to reach them. Before we held
the first service of Saddleback, the people in our small home
Bible study went about $6,500 in debt preparing for that service.
Where did we get the money? We used our personal credit cards!
We believed the offerings of the people we reached for Christ
would eventually enable everyone to be paid back.
One of the “miracles” of our dress rehearsal service
was that a man who had not attended our home Bible study came
to that first service gave a check for a thousand dollars when
we took the offering. After it was over, the woman in charge of
counting the offering came up and showed me the check. I said,
“This is going to work!” Sure enough, we paid everyone
back within four months. (Please note: I’m not advocating
that your church use credit cards to finance it! I’m just
trying to illustrate how willing we were to pay the cost of reaching
people for Christ.)
Often when finances get tight in a church, the first thing cut
is the evangelism and advertising budget. That is the last thing
you should cut. It is the source of new blood and life for your
Second, people give to vision, not to need. If “need”
motivated people to give, every church would have plenty of money.
It is not the neediest institutions that attract contributions,
but those with the greatest vision. Churches that are making the
most of what they’ve got attract more gifts. That’s
why Jesus said, "It is always true that those who have, get
more, and those who have little, soon lose even that” (Luke
If your church is constantly short on cash, check out your vision.
Is it clear? Is it being communicated effectively? Money flows
to God-given, Holy Spirit-inspired ideas. Churches with money
problems really have a vision problem.
Third, when you spend nickels and dimes on evangelism, you get
nickel and dime results. Do you remember the story about the time
Jesus told Peter to go find money in a fish’s mouth in order
to pay the Roman taxes? In Matthew 17:27 (NIV) Jesus told Peter,
"... go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first
fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma
I believe there is an important lesson in that story: The coin
was in the mouth of the fish! If you’ll focus on fishing
(evangelism), God will pay your bills!
Fourth, remember that “God’s work done God’s
way will not lack God’s support.” This was the famous
motto of the great missionary strategist, Hudson Taylor.
This article originally appeared in Rick Warren's Ministry ToolBox,
a free, email newsletter available
from pastors.com. Used by permission.
The Ministry ToolBox is for ANYONE serving Jesus Christ. For
a free subscription, you can sign up at www.pastors.com.
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback
Church in Lake Forest, CA. Rick is also author The
Purpose Driven Life and The
Purpose Driven Church, and founder of
Pastors.com, a global Internet community for those in ministry.
You may reprint this article in your publication with the following
attribution: From Rick Warren's Ministry ToolBox, a free weekly
e-newsletter for those in ministry, www.pastors.com.
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