In Saturday’s paper, there was a really interesting ARTICLE. In it, Terry Mattingly reports on journalist Joe Carter’s perspective on evangelicals and their evangelistic approaches. I first need to say that I am not familiar with Joe Carter, but I tend to agree with his perspective. Read the article for yourself (link above).
What (who) do we depend on to reach people and grow the church? What does evangelism look like? Have we confused means and methods with reality? These are questions we should be asking as western, American evangelicals.
Following that, where do we go to find the answers? Conferences? Online websites & blogs (remember, you’re reading one)? New Release sections at bookstores? Lifeway.com? Church innovation magazines? The Bible?
Sources outside of Scripture are not bad as long as they lead us back to the Scriptures. One thing we must observe in our church culture is, while we will defend that scripture is without error, we just don’t believe it is sufficient. If we did (even historically) would the church…
- Emphasize sinners’ prayers more than repentance & faith?
- Teach more on evangelistic methods than the true gospel gripping the hearts of true believers?
- Plead more with people to raise hands and walk aisles than to contemplate these truths deep in their hearts and choose to associate with Christ through baptism and His church?
- Depend on church gatherings to reach the lost than reaching out to the lost next door?
The truth is, the Bible gives no record of sinners’ prayers, canned evangelistic methods, aisle-walking or corporate worship being treated as an evangelistic crusade (regularly). We have taken the command to “Go” and said “Ya’ll come.” We have based our evangelism, not on the authority of Christ (Mt.28:18), but on the credence (numerically speaking) of a particular method or event. Instead of “teaching to observe” we’ve just given them pizza and asked them to fill out a card.
What are we doing?
What happens when the people of God are so smitten with God’s glory? They become like Jeremiah and Isaiah who simply say “I’ll go” even before they know the details. Reluctant? Certainly at times. Faulty? Always. God’s design? According to 2 Corinthians 5, absolutely.
Our problem with a lack of evangelism is NOT our methodology, it is disobedience. The solution is not being beaten over the head with guilt (even through this blog). Rather, the answer is to see the Gospel afresh and remember the God of our salvation (2 Peter 1:9, Rev.2:5). We need to remember that God is enough, that fountain of living waters (Jeremiah 2:11-13), and find our sole satisfaction in Him. When you have tasted of the Lord and seen that He is good, you will speak, live and teach until others have found their satisfaction in Him as well.
Let us pray for each other in this regard. May we become those who exhort and encourage one another to drink deeply of the Lord and His Word, rejoicing together as we pray, sing and proclaim the gospel to one another when we gather, and to our neighbors and co-workers all along the way!