When a church is small, house church size, (whether it intends to stay small or grow to a mega church size is immaterial to this discussion) the amount of time that a pastor/shepherd can spend on evangelism, evangelism training, evangelistic praying, prayer walking, building relationships with non-Christians, etc., is great. The larger a church gets, the more a pastor has to spend time in discipleship tasks. This is neither good nor bad; it is just how it is.
In the prenatal development stage, when it is only you and your wife, a pastor/church planter can spend most of his time doing evangelism, training others to do evangelism, building relationships, and praying for the lost. As soon as you have reached some people, you have to begin to concentrate on growth processes for believers. The more you reach, the more you have to concentrate on discipleship issues rather than evangelism issues. It is inevitable, unless . . .
Before the lines cross (see diagram above) a congregation hears something unique in the message.
They hear a pastor who has time to think and meditate on the needs and thoughts and questions of non-Christians.
They hear a pastor who is having regular contact with actual non-Christians.
They hear a pastor who is building relationship with non-Christians.
They hear a pastor who, when studying the text of the word of God, is immersed in addressing the issues that the text at hand raises for the non-Christian.
They read the text and they “hear” the questions that non-Christians might have about that text.
All of this combines to create an atmosphere where they know that their own non-Christian neighbors, the ones they have been praying for and witnessing to (in the best case scenario), will hear not only a clear gospel, but a sensitive presentation of the gospel, one that answers many of the objections of their neighbors. Result: They invite their neighbors.
But at some point, their pastor gets busy. He is busy with important stuff. He is discipling people, and training leaders, and counseling families, and visiting people in the hospital, and performing premarital counseling, and doing marriages, preparing for Lord’s Supper celebrations and baptisms. He’s working on quality control of all the paper that has the name of the church on it. He’s managing conflicts and problems that church people have with him or one another. Ministry gets more complicated the larger the church grows. And the more complicated it gets, the less time he spends doing, and thinking about, and training others to do evangelism.
And now the congregation hears something else in the messages of their pastor.
They hear that he no longer has the pulse of their non-Christian neighbors.
They hear old stories of past glories and wonder if the gospel has any present power.
And they stop inviting them. Their pastor forgot about evangelism because he was taking care of them. And now the church is headed for decline.
Solve the problem pastor.
Solve the problem elders.
Solve the problem body of Christ.