Charles Spurgeon's Secret to Healthy Church Growth

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Charles Haddon Spurgeon has rightly been acclaimed the "Prince of Preachers." Apostles, prophets, pastors, evangelists and teachers honor him as probably history's greatest pastoral leader.

Spurgeon ministered weekly to over 10,000 in his Metropolitan Tabernacle pulpit in London without amplification or benefit of social media. Having ministered for more than four decades, he is considered one of Christianity's most prolific communicators. It's unprecedented that leaders around the world are still using his 63 volumes of over 4,000 sermons.

Spurgeon's incredible blend of evangelistic and pastoral ministry provides many insights into healthy church growth. If he were alive today and had a podcast, I believe he would pass along his time-tested wisdom in evangelistic and pastoral ministry. But for now, let's tune in and listen to his thoughts on evangelism.

Gleaning from Spurgeon's writings and sermons, perceptive pastoral leaders will discover four insights regarding healthy church growth.

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Prioritize Evangelism

"Soul-winning is the chief business of the Christian minister; indeed, it should be the main pursuit of every true believer."

Intentionally living the adventure of lifestyle evangelism topped Spurgeon's short list. He didn't delegate evangelism. Rather, he engaged in missional living with passion and built it into the culture of the church.

For many pastors, it's time for recalibration in this area. So turn up the volume on your computer so your pastoral team can hear Spurgeon through the corridors of time. In The Soul Winner, he said, "Our main business, brethren, is to win souls!"

"If you are eager for real joy, such as you may think over and sleep upon, I am persuaded that no joy of growing wealthy, no joy of increasing knowledge, no joy of influence over your fellow creatures, no joy of any other sort, can ever be compared with the rapture of saving a soul from death, and helping to restore our lost brethren and to our great Father's house."

Pray for and Engage the Lost

"If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies," Spurgeon said. "And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for!"

I encourage Christians to slow down and enjoy the adventure of lifestyle evangelism. Many opportunities to share Christ come disguised as unwelcome interruptions. For instance, leaders often miss divine appointments because they're so driven, looking for the shortest lines in stores and avoiding conversations with people—some unsaved, no doubt—to get in and out as fast as possible.

Do you quickly get in and out of your garage, scurrying like a groundhog to avoid casual conversations with neighbors? That small talk could lead to sharing the gospel.

Recently, at the mall where I walk daily, I engaged a woman shuttering her store, only to discover that her child had just died by choking on a chicken nugget at the food court. Weeks before, I paused to converse with a cleaning lady who looked sad, only to discover that her husband had died of cancer two weeks prior. In both cases, I empathized, gave my testimony tract, and in the second instance, prayed with the woman to receive Jesus as her Lord and Savior.

We would do well to walk through the Gospels and observe how Jesus consistently took time for the individual. Heidi Baker, ministering the miraculous in Mozambique since 1980, says her core life principle is, "Stop for the One." I live by the acronym HOPE, Helping Other People Everyday.

A recent Barna study reveals that only 64 percent of Christians believe it's every Christian's duty to evangelize. Twenty-five years ago, 90 percent thought it was their responsibility to share their faith.

If you need more motivation to evangelize, visit YouTube for the gift of five 24-minute free inspiring videos on "Loving Lifestyle Evangelism" (Larry Tomczak playlist) to help you, your family and your church.

Cultivate fresh motivation

Developing an evangelistic lifestyle requires inspiration because we're easily distracted and tend to drift. We all benefit from fresh testimonies that remind us "there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous men who need no repentance" (Luke 15:7).

Greg Laurie, senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside and Irvine, California, is one of the strongest evangelists of our day, with millions attending his Harvest Crusades.

"Next to personally knowing Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord, the greatest joy I know of is leading others to Christ and watching them grow spiritually," Laurie wrote in a World Net Daily commentary.

The late Billy Graham, perhaps the greatest evangelist of our day, said, "My one purpose in life is to help people find relationship with God through Jesus Christ."

We want to emulate Jesus, who left heaven to come for us. "The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10). He was not just saving, but seeking. That requires intentionality. We must be proactive to win lost souls.

John Wooden, college basketball's greatest coach, cautioned his players with a word that ties into evangelism too. "Don't mistake activity for achievement," Wooden said.

As pastors with abundant demands on our time and devotion to sermon preparation, we fall short so easily. Based on research, John Wimber, founder of the Vineyard church movement, said: "I found that there are two things pastors don't do. They don't pray, and they don't evangelize."

This is why Spurgeon kept the vision before his people and sprinkled sermons with illustrations of his gospel-sharing activity. When pastors don't share current stories of their evangelism efforts or refer to testimonies from years ago, it's no wonder God's people aren't involved in missional living.

Design and distribute testimony tracts

The personal testimony tract is the greatest tool I've used for 40-some years to "plant seeds" for the gospel. Connecting with people naturally and lovingly, I normally give out about three tracts daily. This translates into over 1,000 people reached yearly, and in my lifetime, that's approximately 46,000 people, enough to fill a stadium!

Old school? Ineffective? Too elementary, best left to "baby" Christians? Well, I'm not talking about cheesy tracts emphasizing hell but attention-getting stories of people's personal journey to Christ.

I've helped people custom-design their own tracts to overcome Satan "by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony" (Rev. 12:11).

"When preaching and private talk are not available, you have a tract ready," Spurgeon said. "This is often an effectual method. A gospel tract may be the seed of eternal life, so don't go out without your tracts."

Martin Luther and the Reformers made great use of tracts. Hudson Taylor and George Whitefield were converted through tracts. Mitsuo Fuchida, air commander of the Pearl Harbor attack, came to Christ through a tract from a prisoner of war. South Koreans have attached them to helium-filled balloons to take the gospel to North Korea. Jews for Jesus founder Moishe Rosen was converted through a tract. One of my relatives was converted through a tract.

Just like a Fitbit keeps an individual alert to his daily physical activity, keeping tracts at the ready reminds us of our sacred responsibility. Over the decades, I believe I've had only 10 or 12 people who refused a tract. I make it a point to be respectful and winsome in engaging people before I ask them if they'd like to be encouraged by something of my spiritual journey. They usually love our family picture on the back of the tract too.

When Billy Graham died, abundant prophetic words were resurrected to call believers regarding the end-time harvest and our privilege and responsibility to take the baton. Graham and Spurgeon are both now part of the "cloud of witnesses" (Heb. 12:1) cheering us on from the grandstand with the one who said, "Go ... And remember, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19-20).

Larry Tomczak is a cultural commentator and best-selling author. With books such as Clap Your Hands, Reckless Abandon and Bullseye, he brings attention to culture from a biblical perspective. He writes for news outlets such as Charisma News, Barbwire and World Net Daily and is a board member of Intercessors for America. Access his resources for leaders on YouTube (heresthedeal4now) and Vimeo (larrytomczak) to stay informed on culture and help engage the lost.

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Dr. Steve Greene is now sharing stories, teachings, and conversations with guests who lead with love on Love Leads, a new podcast. Listen now.


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