How Evangelism Can Work, by Angel Rodriguez



Area Evangelism Training at Houston Central Seventh-day Adventist Church (February 2019)

Introduction: The Role of Evangelism

Have you noticed how a church can be transformed when a new pastor arrives to a district?  You can have the same church board, the same congregation, the same community, the same ministries within the church, with the same financial restraints, and yet, when new leadership arrives to the same congregation, you can have new results in church growth. Some may ask, “how?”

I want to share with you that the old adage, “evangelism does not work in today’s post-modern society,” is actually inaccurate and incorrect.  From my personal experience, I have placed into practice seven important principles that help make evangelism effective.

1. Recognize the Role of the Holy Spirit

The first principle of evangelism that needs to be recognized is the key role of the Holy Spirit.  We can preach our hearts out, but if the Spirit of the Living God is not part of the evangelism effort, the effort will be not successful. I am convinced that someone could be the most eloquent speaker, and yet have minimal results. Why?  Because without the Holy Spirit there can be no real increase. The Bible is clear. “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.” 1 Corinthians 3:5-7.

You need to notice the simple element of the text.  The Holy Spirit is working alongside Paul and Apollos.  As ministers of the Gospel, we have a role to play with the Holy Spirit.  God works with His servants. We have a part to play when it comes to church growth.  We are the Paul’s and the Apollos’ of today.  When the Holy Spirit wanted Peter to reach out to the Roman Centurion, Cornelius, He gave Peter a dream, then commanded Peter to go and preach to the Gentiles the Gospel of Christ.  The result was that all in the house of Cornelius received the Holy Spirit.  “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.” Acts 10:44.  Once again, we observe how the Holy Spirit works with humanity to bring the Gospel message to the world.  The results were incredible-all were baptized!  Acts10:47,48.

We need to recognize the role of the Holy Spirit when it comes to evangelism and church growth. We have a part to play in the salvation of humanity.  We can pray and fast, as we should.  However, there comes a time when we need to walk by faith and move forward with the Holy Spirit to bring people into a loving relationship with our Savior.  I remember when a fellow student at the seminary objected to a statement made by the professor, that all pastors need to be involved in bringing people to Christ.   “That’s not my spiritual gift!”  I looked at my friend and asked him one simple question: “Where in the Bible has Jesus told any disciple, any apostle, or any pastor, that they are not to be involved in bringing people to Christ because it may not be their spiritual gift?” The role of the Holy Ghost can take a reluctant apostle who gives a simple gospel presentation, and turn his presentation into a Holy Ghost revival.

2. Recognize the principle of sowing the field

The next principle of evangelism is to sow the field, which is your community. My grandparents were farmers. Imagine, if when they went into the fields with their farm equipment to harvest the crops, they found there was nothing to harvest.  The first question that my grandfather would have to ask is, “Did anyone plant the seeds?” Too often, many people try various methods of evangelism and come up short because there was no pre-harvest work.  It’s a simple principle: you can water the soil, but nothing will grow unless we place a seed in the soil.  How do we plant a seed?   Pre-evangelism work is key.

There are many ways of planting seeds in the community. I remember when I first arrived at the Yonkers church after I graduated from the Seminary.  I wanted to do a Revelation Seminar.  The board recommended that we first do a “Computer for Dummies” class.  I was disappointed, however, they knew the community far better than I did. The class was so successful, that we had to run two classes with 30 people each.  We invited these same students to the Revelation Seminar, and had great results.  The “Computer for Dummies” class was the seed that was necessary to address the needs of the community.  “Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, ‘Follow  Me.’”  The Ministry of Healing, p.143.  When the community realized that we were taking care of their needs, they were eager to attend the various seminars that were offered. This is sowing the field for Christ.

3. Recognize that there are many different forms and different ways of evangelism

I have an adopted an old adage, never put all your eggs into one basket.  I have several areas that I focus on. My first is the most simple. Every time we have a visitor come to our congregation, we give them a warm handshake, and some of the women give a warm hug.   They are escorted to their various Sabbath School classes, which operate as a small group. Our belief is simple, if they come to our church on their own accord, they are searching not only for a congregation to worship with, but also they are searching for a deeper relationship with Christ. We ask the visitor if they can give us their name, e-mail address, and cell number.  We explain that this is to send them an e-mail of the various activities that are coming up.  We also thank them for coming to our church.

Every ministry of the church is a form of evangelism. From the greeters of the church to the Sabbath school classes, the club ministries (Adventures, Pathfinders, Master Guides) to VBX (Vacation Bible Experience).  From AMM (Adventist Motorcycle Ministry) to Health Ministries, every ministry in the church is one avenue that attracts various people with various interests.  One of the dangers of growing congregations is to begin far too many ministries at one time. Start with one or two ministries; develop them well before you go on to the next.  The quality of ministry is essential. Each ministry is evangelism.  Each ministry is essential. Each ministry is part of the overall success of growth. We have annual evangelistic meetings in the month of September with great success.  Why?  Each ministry brings their friends to the meetings.  Each ministry appeals to various people groups of the community, each ministry develops friends and relationships.  Each ministry is evangelism.

4. Recognize the role of leadership

Each congregation is unique. Each community is unique.  Each Leadership team is unique.  This is why I have a concern when some churches try to simply duplicate programs, rather than following the principles which govern the successful programs. The Bible explains how each congregation has diversity of gifts. “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles?” 1 Corinthians 12:27-29. Each church has its own leadership mix.

As each congregation discovers its leadership mix, they will be able to maximize their strengths to advance the Gospel. As the Senior Pastor, I do have a vision for the church.  I share that vision first with the associates and gather input and insights.  We develop a shared vision for the congregation.  We take this vision to our elders, and finally to the church board for buy-in.

One of the roles of leadership is to have a vision that is inspired by God, and share that vision with the leadership and congregation. If we are to have growth, as leaders, we need to take the step of faith.  One step of faith we chose was to plan baptisms every quarter.  “Pastor, do you have candidates for Baptism?,” was the question that was asked.  I responded, “Not yet!, but we will!”   My mentoring pastor from the South Bronx once told me, “If you have Bible studies, you will have baptisms.” So we began with the simple Something Wonderful cards from Seminars Unlimited that are mailed to any specific community.  When the interests arrived, we immediately responded.  Every quarter, we have baptisms. The role of leadership is key.  If we believe, we take the steps of faith.

When the congregation observes that their pastor is a person who has faith in the Bible, and faith that God will give the increase, the congregation will develop that same passion for souls. “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” Proverbs 29:18. All through the Bible, leadership makes or breaks the movements of the people.  In my history of setting baptismal dates by faith, only twice I was disappointed for one week. The following week, the individual finally took the step and was baptized.   If you have not tried setting baptism dates, take the step of faith!


5. Recognize that the Harvest is Plentiful

Part of having a successful growing church is accepting the Bible for what it clearly states.  Jesus, when He looked out into the multitude, saw many people accepting the gospel message.  He saw people from many different statuses in life, educational range, and cultural diversity.  Jesus saw the potential of His district. For every new district you have the privilege of pastoring, walk the community, visit the various stores, eat in the various restaurants, and immerse yourself into the uniqueness of the district. Then, pray and look for ways to impact that community for Christ.  I enjoy doing prayer walks.  As you walk the various parts of the community, just pray and ask God how you can reach the these precious souls for Him.


When I first started pastoring, I was sent to a district in the distant edges of the conference.  Every pastor I spoke to made it clear that I was going into an area that was extremely difficult, and that most pastors didn’t do well in that district.  I have always loved a challenge, and so I accepted the new assignment. When I arrived, it was obvious that the churches were in a decline.  I had to make a choice: accept the view and assessments of the pastors that warned me, or see the potential of the district. I started the prayer walk, and it became obvious that the town itself was in a depression cycle. I pleaded with our Lord, and I was impressed to pick up the phone book and start making calls. That’s right, phone book ministry!  “Hello, this is the new pastor of the church on the corner of Main Street, next to the Community Hospital.  I have three Bible study series to offer that are incredible! One on how to create a vibrant and happy home, following the principles of the Bible, a six part series.  One on what the Bible says about the end time, a twelve part series on Revelation.  And, one on how to manage your finances and get out of debt following the principles out of the Bible.”

The next day, I added this line:  “Also, if you just need prayers for yourself, your children, your relatives and friends, or have someone that needs a hospital visit, we are  here to serve.  May God bless you.”  Simple. Most of the time, I just left messages on their answering machine.  After 200 calls, within the first week we had 11 Bible studies, 14 home visits for prayers, and one hospital visit.  The harvest was plentiful. “Then  saith He unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;  Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his  harvest.” Matthew 9:37,38.

When you look at your community, what do you see?  Do you see the potential?  Do you see the precious souls that need to come into a relationship with Christ?  What you see makes a big difference.  Jesus saw the harvest; we need to have the eyes of Jesus as pastors.   Recognize that the church is one team.


6. Recognize that we need Synergism

During our evangelism cycle, we have public evangelism in the month of September every year.  Each ministry is in charge of a different day.  Our Motorcycle Ministry will lead out on one of the nights of the effort, Prison Ministries on a different night, AY on another night, and the list goes on.  Part of each ministry includes evangelism.  Each ministry understands that each year, their ministry will aid on some of the nights of the effort. Their ministry is evangelism.  The various ministries work in collaboration with each other in a synergistic way.  They flow like an army, and work with each other’s calendar.  When all the ministries work together for the same goal, the overall health of the church is enhanced. “That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:25,26.


7. Recognize that Appeals help in making decisions for Christ

Every Sabbath, we try to make the service a safe environment for our guests. With this safe environment comes an appeal to grow closer with the Lord. That’s right, an appeal.  Every worship, every gospel presentation, every sermon, has an appeal as part of its closure.   I remember preaching a weekend series in one of the congregations that I was invited to. I made an appeal and several people came forward for baptism. I noticed that the congregation seemed puzzled that many people came to the front.  After the service, I asked the pastor why there was a puzzled look on the faces of many of the members.  “Well,” he responded, “it appears that those that came forward are not baptized.  We thought they were college students coming to our church from other Adventist congregations.” During the fellowship meal, I spoke to some of them and the pastor of the church asked them, “We thought you were baptized members, why did you come forth today?” Their response, “Well, it’s simple Pastor. No one ever asked!  So when the appeal was made, we came forward with eagerness!”

I have discovered that many folks don’t make decisions simply because they have never been asked.  Every year we have new baptisms, simply because we always have an appeal to make a decision for Christ.

As we have experienced following these principles listed, God has richly blessed our congregation with kingdom growth.  Besides witnessing increase in membership, we have also been able to participate in planting new congregations. I believe in my heart that evangelism DOES work, even in a post-modern society.



God has been wonderful to our congregation at Houston Central Seventh-day Adventist Church.  Like one of our associate pastors has said, “The proof is in the pudding.” In the last four years we have experienced a Kingdom growth, from a membership of 468 to 715.  We have been blessed with 289 baptisms, and have helped start 3 new church plants.


By Angel J. Rodriguez, Senior Pastor

Houston Central SDA Church





About danserns

Happily married and father of three great kids. Seventh-day Adventist pastor who invites everyone to accept Jesus as their Savior and Lord, embrace all the teachings of the Bible and join a vibrant Adventist group.
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