The One-Degree Rule: A Simple Plan for Raising Your Church or Ministry Evangelistic Temperature


Every follower of Jesus has an outreach temperature, whether it’s hot, cold, or somewhere in the middle. This temperature impacts the way we live and interact with those who are far from God. It is our responsibility to increase this temperature so that our hearts burn hotter for those who are spiritually disconnected. The One-Degree Rule is a simple concept that can help followers of Jesus see their need to grow and then take a practical step to increase their passion to reach out.

I use a scale of one to ten to help identify where we are in our evangelistic passion. In our individual lives, a ten represents a heart that is sizzling hot for evangelism. When we are at a ten, we pray often, notice people who are spiritually wandering, and enjoy making time in our schedule to connect with those who are far from God. In these seasons, our lights are shining, we speak of our faith often, we share stories of what God is doing in our lives, and we share the gospel naturally.

When our personal temperature is at a one, our hearts have cooled off. We walk right past opportunities to let the light of Jesus shine and hardly notice. 

In the same way, we can also identify the outreach temperature of our church ministries.

The value of the One-Degree Rule is that it doesn’t matter what the starting number is. The purpose is to commit to raise that number by one degree. The real issue is not whether a particular ministry’s temperature is at a three or a seven; the One-Degree Rule begins a conversation about the steps needed to raise the temperature one degree higher. If the church board identifies the church’s temperature as a seven, even if they have overestimated, they will still begin strategizing to raise it one degree. If the children’s ministry temperature is a five, add some fuel and get them thinking about how to raise it to a six.

There are many ways to turn the temperature up one more degree in your church or ministry. Here are five ideas. 

1. Celebration

Plan regular celebrations of those who have repented of sin, left their old lives, and entered a joyful friendship with Jesus Christ. This can be done as a whole church at the time of baptism or through public declarations of faith. One way to build a bridge at these times is to be sure that the people making a public step of faith are encouraged to invite their nonbelieving friends to attend. It is natural to share the gospel in these settings. Celebrations like this should feel like a party! Have cake. Make it fun.

 2. Accountability 

One of the most effective ways to keep the outreach fires burning hot is to create a culture of accountability. We can inspire one another with good questions that spark conversations that turn things up another degree.

Here are some questions that Christians should ask one another on a regular basis:

  • Who are you praying for who is not yet a follower of Jesus? How can I support you in prayer?
  • Who are you spending time with who needs to know God’s love and grace?
  • What is your outreach temperature in this season of life, and what are you doing to turn it up one degree?

3. Prayer

There is more power in prayer than we dream or imagine. I guarantee that the flames of outreach will grow hotter in your ministry after you make evangelistic prayer a normal part of your time together.

Here are two examples: 

  • Pray as a congregation in worship services for hearts so in love with God and with people that we naturally share the joy and hope that are found in Jesus alone.
  • Pray as ministry teams, as a board, and as a staff anytime you gather for God to send workers into his harvest fields (see Matthew 9:38).

4. Proximity 

The outreach temperature of any ministry will go up when we are engaging people who are far from God. It’s all a matter of proximity. We need to move the church out into our community. In our personal lives, we need to be committed to make time, on a regular basis, to be with family and friends who are far from God. And in our ministry to others, we need to seek opportunities to get close to those who are far from God. Some of these people might visit your church, but many will not. Creatively find ways to get close to them. This can be done in countless ways, and I look at this more closely in part 3 of my book Organic Outreach for Churches. Here are just a few ideas to get the juices flowing:

  • A children’s group can visit a retirement community once a quarter to sing praise songs or old hymns for those who live there. 
  • A youth group can serve meals at a mission. 
  • Small groups can support a family in the community that does not attend church but has lawn-care or house-cleaning needs.

We will find our temperature going up as we come into closer proximity to people in our community, who in turn will get to know us and see that we really do carry the love of Jesus in our hearts.

5. Stories

Few things inspire us and increase our outreach temperature like hearing stories of changed lives. Every time we hear a testimony of God’s power to save, we find ourselves wanting to be part of the adventure of evangelism. As a church, we need to create places for these stories to be told and heard, over and over again. 

One way to do this is to have people share their stories in your worship services. This can be done by showing a testimony video, having a person read their story during a service, or conducting an interview. At our church, we share most of these stories of faith through video. We show them in services and then make them available on our website so people can watch them and share them with others.

Finally, we should seek to create a culture in which people naturally share their stories of faith. We should encourage people to think of different ways of sharing their faith in Jesus, depending on the circumstances and the person they are talking with. We don’t have just one story of our conversion. We have daily stories of God’s faithfulness and power unleashed in our lives. As God protects, leads, heals, and loves us, we can tell these stories.

Find more examples and tips for raising your church’s evangelistic temperature in Organic Outreach for Churches, Updated and Expanded Edition, by Kevin G. Harney.

How to Use This Book

Infuse your church with evangelistic passion: have your leaders study and discuss the newly updated Organic Outreach for Churches, and find practical guidance for raising your church or ministry’s evangelistic temperature.

Lee Strobel writes, “this book offers a terrific pathway to lead your church toward a faithful fulfillment of the Great Commission.”

Learn more and get copies for your leaders today.

Organic Outreach for Churches, Updated and Expanded Edition: Infusing Evangelistic Passion in Your Local Congregation

Kevin G. Harney

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