Building a Contagious Church: Revolutionizing the Way We View and Do Evangelism

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This audio version of the popular book is read by the author and will provide a vision for turning every church — new or old — into a contagious church that is a powerful magnet for attracting and influencing unchurched people.

Discover A Proven Approach to Raising Your Church's Evangelistic Temperature

Evangelism. It's one of the highest values in the church. So why do so few churches put real time, money, ...

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Overview

This audio version of the popular book is read by the author and will provide a vision for turning every church — new or old — into a contagious church that is a powerful magnet for attracting and influencing unchurched people.

Discover A Proven Approach to Raising Your Church's Evangelistic Temperature

Evangelism. It's one of the highest values in the church. So why do so few churches put real time, money, and effort into it? Maybe it's because we don't understand the evangelistic potential of the church well enough to get excited about it. Building a Contagious Church will change that. This provocative book dispels outdated preconceptions and reveals evangelism as it really can be, radiant with the color and potential of the body of Christ and pulsing with the power of God. What's more, it walks you through a 6-Stage Process for taking your church beyond mere talk to infectious energy, action, and lasting commitment. Think it can't happen? Get ready for the surprise of your life! You and your church are about to become contagious!

Author Biography: Mark Mittelberg is executive vice president of the Willow Creek Association in charge of evangelism. He is coauthor with Bill Hybels of the book, Becoming a Contagious Christian, and author of Building a Contagious Church.

Bill Hybels serves as senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois. Willow Creek's outreach to spiritual seekers in the Chicago area has made it one of the most attended churches in North America. Hybels has authored many books, including the award-winning Descending into Greatness, with Rob Wilkins; Fit to Be Tied and Rediscovering Church, both with his wife, Lynne; and Honest to God?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780310250005
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • Publication date: 9/20/2002
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 5.22 (w) x 8.08 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Mittelberg (MA, Trinity Evangelical Theological School) is an author, speaker, and evangelism strategist. He is coauthor with Bill Hybels of Becoming a Contagious Christian and coauthor with Bill Hybels and Lee Strobel of the Becoming a Contagious Christian curriculum. He previously served as evangelism leader for the Willow Creek Association.

Bill Hybels is the founding and senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill., and chairman of the board for the Willow Creek Association. The bestselling author of more than twenty books, including Leadership Axioms, Holy Discontent, Just Walk Across the Room, The Volunteer Revolution, and Courageous Leadership, and classics such as Too Busy Not to Pray and Becoming a Contagious Christian, Hybels is known worldwide as an expert in training Christian leaders to transform individuals and their communities through the local church. He and his wife, Lynne, have two adult children and two grandsons, Henry and Mac.

Mark Mittelberg (MA, Trinity Evangelical Theological School) is an author, speaker, and evangelism strategist. He is coauthor with Bill Hybels of Becoming a Contagious Christian and coauthor with Bill Hybels and Lee Strobel of the Becoming a Contagious Christian curriculum. He previously served as evangelism leader for the Willow Creek Association.

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Read an Excerpt

Evangelism against the Odds

WHAT ARE WE TRYING TO DO?

Listen, I've taken my questions to a pastor, a priest, and a rabbi. Not one of them was able to give me any good reasons to believe in God. In fact, they've just congratulated me for thinking it through so carefully. One of them even told me I'd given him some things to think about! I've spent a lot of time and energy on this, so don't think you're going to easily sway me into believing that your ideas are right."

So energized was the discussion between this young Jewish businessman and my pastor friend that a church usher actually stepped in to try to break up the "fight." But as soon as he did, both of them protested. "It's okay," my friend assured the usher, "we're both just very passionate about this."

"Not only that," added this intense seeker, "I can't tell you how refreshing it is to finally find a place like this where people seem to actually care about logic and truth. This is fantastic!" This man, like so many others today, was highly interested in discovering what is real in the spiritual realm, and he was eager to talk about it. We see it all around us. From cover stories of national news-magazines, to titles of best-selling books, to themes of television pro-grams and movies, to songs on the music charts--people are hungry for information about God.

Spiritual interest is at a high level in our culture but so is bewilderment about what to believe and whom to trust. The good news is that although there is growing suspicion of organized religion, many men and women, like this Jewish businessman, are still willing to turn to an ordinary church like yours or like mine in the hope that they might--just might--find some answers there. The question is, are we prepared to help them? Are we becoming the kind of people--and are we building the kind of churches--that will be able to assist them in embarking on spiritual journeys that will eventually bring them to Christ?

Evangelism. It's one of the highest values in the church--and one of the least practiced.

We all believe in it. I don't think I've ever met anyone who genuinely believed in the Bible but didn't believe in evangelism. When you embrace the truth of God's Word, it's pretty difficult to discount its call to reach lost people. It's on our bulletins, in our hymns, and through-out our creeds. It's posted on our marquees and peppered throughout our statements of faith. It's emphasized in our theology books, praised in our seminaries, and encouraged in our pulpits. Most Christian leaders list it as one of their ministry's top priorities. There is little ambiguity or doubt that evangelism is central to what we're supposed to be about.

The irony is that while many of us are in churches and denominations that have a rich heritage and strong reputation for evangelism, in many cases, precious little is actually happening. Let's be honest: in most ministries very few lost people are being reached for Christ. Yet the words of Jesus in the Great Commission are seared in our minds: "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28: 19-20). This mandate was given for all churches of all time, so it includes every one of us who is a part of those congregations.

Since we all agree that we are supposed to be carrying out the Great Commission, why aren't we doing more about it? Studies show that most Christians don't have very many--if any--friendships with non-Christians. The majority of church members can no longer quote the words in John 3: 16 about God's great love for the world, much less articulate a clear gospel illustration. A mere fourteen percent of pastors claim that their churches are heavily involved in evangelism. Only one out of three churches ever trains its people in evangelism.

We may talk a good game, but our actions speak louder than our words. Do we really care about lost people? Do we sincerely believe that knowing Christ is the best way to live and the only way to die? Are we convinced that everyone we know, without exception, needs to find the forgiveness, friendship, life, and leadership Jesus offers? Do we truly believe in hell, and that our friends and family members will end up there if they don't trust in Christ before they die? Do we really believe that? If so, are we willing to take risks to warn them? And are we willing to invest our time and energy in developing churches that will attract, challenge, and teach them to step across the line of faith? Jesus has commissioned us to become persuasive communicators of his love and truth. That is, he asks us to become contagious Christians and to build contagious churches that will do everything necessary, through the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit, to bring more and more people to him. If you know and love Christ, I'm confident that your spirit is saying, "Yes, that's right. I long to become that kind of Christian and to be a part of that kind of church. I really want to impact people's lives and eternities!" We were made to fulfill the Great Commission. I believe evangelizing is the primary reason God left us here on the planet. We can spend all of eternity worshiping God, learning from his Word, praying to him, and encouraging and edifying one another. But only here and now do we have the chance to reach lost people for Christ. What a privilege and what an adventure!

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Bill Hybels 11
Introduction 13
PART 1: A CONTAGIOUS PLAN
1. Evangelism against the Odds 19
2. Evangelistic Values in a Secular World 32
3. A Strategy for Reaching Secular People 63
PART 2: A CONTAGIOUS CHANGE PROCESS
4. STAGE 1
Owning and Modeling Evangelistic Values 87
5. STAGE 2
Instilling Evangelistic Values in the People around Us 112
6. STAGE 3
Empowering an Evangelistic Point Person 132
7. STAGE 4
Liberating and Equipping Every Believer 152
8. STAGE 5
Developing a Diversified Evangelism Team 179
9. STAGE 6
Innovating High-Impact Outreach Ministries and Events 211
PART 3: CONTAGIOUS DIVERSITY
10. Maximizing Outreach around the Confrontational Style 247
11. Maximizing Outreach around the Intellectual Style 260
12. Maximizing Outreach around the Testimonial Style 276
13. Maximizing Outreach around the Interpersonal Style 289
14. Maximizing Outreach around the Invitational Style 302
15. Maximizing Outreach around the Serving Style 321
PART 4: CONTAGIOUS MINISTRY
16. Communicating the Gospel without Compromise 343
17. The Vision: Contagious Churches and a Contagious Epidemic 365
Church and Ministry List 389
Notes 399

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First Chapter

Evangelism against the Odds WHAT ARE WE TRYING TO DO?
Listen, I've taken my questions to a pastor, a priest, and a rabbi. Not one of them was able to give me any good reasons to believe in God. In fact, they've just congratulated me for thinking it through so carefully. One of them even told me I'd given him some things to think about! I've spent a lot of time and energy on this, so don't think you're going to easily sway me into believing that your ideas are right.'
So energized was the discussion between this young Jewish businessman and my pastor friend that a church usher actually stepped in to try to break up the 'fight.' But as soon as he did, both of them protested. 'It's okay,' my friend assured the usher, 'we're both just very passionate about this.'
'Not only that,' added this intense seeker, 'I can't tell you how refreshing it is to finally find a place like this where people seem to actually care about logic and truth. This is fantastic!' This man, like so many others today, was highly interested in discovering what is real in the spiritual realm, and he was eager to talk about it. We see it all around us. From cover stories of national news-magazines, to titles of best-selling books, to themes of television pro-grams and movies, to songs on the music charts—people are hungry for information about God.
Spiritual interest is at a high level in our culture but so is bewilderment about what to believe and whom to trust. The good news is that although there is growing suspicion of organized religion, many men and women, like this Jewish businessman, are still willing to turn to an ordinary church like yours or like mine in the hope that they might—just might—find some answers there. The question is, are we prepared to help them? Are we becoming the kind of people—and are we building the kind of churches—that will be able to assist them in embarking on spiritual journeys that will eventually bring them to Christ?
Evangelism. It's one of the highest values in the church—and one of the least practiced.
We all believe in it. I don't think I've ever met anyone who genuinely believed in the Bible but didn't believe in evangelism. When you embrace the truth of God's Word, it's pretty difficult to discount its call to reach lost people. It's on our bulletins, in our hymns, and through-out our creeds. It's posted on our marquees and peppered throughout our statements of faith. It's emphasized in our theology books, praised in our seminaries, and encouraged in our pulpits. Most Christian leaders list it as one of their ministry's top priorities. There is little ambiguity or doubt that evangelism is central to what we're supposed to be about.
The irony is that while many of us are in churches and denominations that have a rich heritage and strong reputation for evangelism, in many cases, precious little is actually happening. Let's be honest: in most ministries very few lost people are being reached for Christ. Yet the words of Jesus in the Great Commission are seared in our minds: 'Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach-ing them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age' (Matthew 28:19—20). This mandate was given for all churches of all time, so it includes every one of us who is a part of those congregations.
Since we all agree that we are supposed to be carrying out the Great Commission, why aren't we doing more about it? Studies show that most Christians don't have very many—if any—friendships with non-Christians. The majority of church members can no longer quote the words in John 3:16 about God's great love for the world, much less articulate a clear gospel illustration. A mere fourteen percent of pastors claim that their churches are heavily involved in evangelism. Only one out of three churches ever trains its people in evangelism.
We may talk a good game, but our actions speak louder than our words. Do we really care about lost people? Do we sincerely believe that knowing Christ is the best way to live and the only way to die? Are we convinced that everyone we know, without exception, needs to find the forgiveness, friendship, life, and leadership Jesus offers? Do we truly believe in hell, and that our friends and family members will end up there if they don't trust in Christ before they die? Do we really believe that? If so, are we willing to take risks to warn them? And are we willing to invest our time and energy in developing churches that will attract, challenge, and teach them to step across the line of faith? Jesus has commissioned us to become persuasive communicators of his love and truth. That is, he asks us to become contagious Christians and to build contagious churches that will do everything necessary, through the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit, to bring more and more people to him. If you know and love Christ, I'm confident that your spirit is saying, 'Yes, that's right. I long to become that kind of Christian and to be a part of that kind of church. I really want to impact people's lives and eternities!' We were made to fulfill the Great Commission. I believe evangelizing is the primary reason God left us here on the planet. We can spend all of eternity worshiping God, learning from his Word, praying to him, and encouraging and edifying one another. But only here and now do we have the chance to reach lost people for Christ. What a privilege and what an adventure!

Read More Show Less

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