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Evangelism - what's needed: what's missing?


"Evangelism? It's something I wouldn't do to my dog." These were the words of one young believer who subsequently went on to write a best-selling book on the subject of personal evangelism.
But do we fulfill the Great Commission today? And if so how?


first published 31/03/10


John the BaptistWHAT do we think when the subject of Evangelism is raised? How do we respond? Excited or Embarrassed?  Defensive or Daring? What is our mental picture of an evangelist? How is evangelism outworked?

The subject of evangelism can provoke heated discussions amongst Christians. "I take my faith onto the streets and share it openly with anyone who will listen", says one.
"Well I believe that a low-key friendship-based approach is the best way," says another.
"Actually you're both wrong", says another. "Better to leave it to those with a gift in spreading the Gospel".

In fact there is no absolute in terms of the right way to share one's faith. Paul endeavoured to become 'all things to all men' and instructed young Timothy to 'preach the word in season and out of season'.
Philip spoke to a man on his way home in his chariot. Peter reached out to a prison officer while in jail. Paul spoke to a governor. Jesus himself spoke very publicly to a hungry mulitude, and in private to a women from Samaria. He mixed with the social outcasts of his day. He mingled with despised collaborators and women of dubious morals.

So how are we doing in the 21st century?


The notes to follow list (on a one-at-time-basis) five prerequisites to motivating and enabling God's people to witness effectively to a needy, but un-reached world. These suggested components of effective outreach are posited principally to stimulate thinking (and - who knows? - discussion) on the subject.

Evangelism

Prerequisite No. 1: A living personal relationship with Jesus Christ


Question 1: 

How easy (difficult) is it for churches containing a mixture of committed believers and those who are just 'church attenders' to implement and maintain a mission-orientated ethos ?


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Prerequisite No. 2: A clear and universal understanding of the Gospel and the Great Commission


Question 2:

Is the body of Christ well taught and keenly aware of  the callings and responsibilities of the Gospel and the Great Commission to travel into all the world (into every section of society) to make disciples of Jesus?

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Prerequisite No. 3: A clear and universal teaching and understanding that every single believer in Christ is called to witness to their faith.


Question 3:

Is there a mindset, teaching and impression communicated which restricts the role and calling of evangelism to those who stand in pulpits and/or those who address assembled masses?

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Prerequisite No. 4: A process and facility within local fellowships which allows individual believers to better understand and get to grips with personal, day-to-day approach to evangelism


Question 4:

With the common view that an evangelist is someone like Luis Palau, does the average Christian have an adequate 'model' of how to share one's faith at a personal and everyday level?

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Prerequisite No. 5: Each 'evangelist' should be able to identify a local church fellowship to which an enquirer or young Christian can be directed.


Question 5:

Do believers have a freedom from their own church leadership to direct and accompany enquirers or new Christians to churches other than their own (if that is the most appropriate thing to do)?



Thesis:

Without these prerequisites in place, it is unlikely that any one individual within a local church will be highly motivated, equipped, encouraged and supported in personal evangelism.


Christians Together, 04/07/2013

Feedback:
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John Miller 04/07/2013 21:58
Derek's comments are very challenging. I understand that many will feel very uncomfortable reading them but can their truth be honestly denied?

Let me venture these thoughts. The Christian, and by extension the church is first called to worship and then to witness, in that order. If our witness is not in Spirit and in truth (John 4)' our witness will be defective. I would therefore suggest that we consider the nature and relevance of what we consider to be worship.

Without being specifically critical my observation is that many consider worship to be the expression of human excitement. Am I being harsh? Others can judge.

What I am suggesting is that worship according to biblical truth and teaching will determine whether or not our witness is effective.
John Miller 04/07/2013 22:02
Correction! "If our witness is not in Spirit and truth....." Should read "If our worship is not..., etc"

Sorry for mistake.
P Carr (Guest) 04/07/2013 22:17
John,

There is no doubt that facets of the established Church are dysfunctional with regards to mission, but I would venture to say that is nothing new! For those who are faithful to their God given mission, we are not responsible for how people respond, and to that end I would suggest that we are now quite possibly in a Rom 1: 18ff situation in this land. It is worth revisiting the prophecy given through Lance Lambert on 6th Aug 2011 (available on this website).

As Paul reminds us 'one sows, one waters, but only God gives the increase'. No matter how hard we reach out (and we must), we are completely reliant on God doing the saving)!
Derek (Guest) 05/07/2013 09:01
Thanks folks for all your comments. On the most basic level there is only one way mission will ever become a reality in the life of a particular fellowship and that’s simply through vision and by faith and action. There is no other way, there are no shortcuts and as major sport wear firm puts it in regards to vacillating and procrastination “Just do it.” It will be raw, sometimes even scary, we will have to get our hands dirty and there will be lots of setbacks and disappointments on the way but if we don’t do it nothing will ever happen! To follow Jesus into this territory we must be faithful and obedient. Our God is a Missionary God and for Him there are NO “no-go” areas in mission. The word ‘GO’ apparently occurs 224 times in the Gospels, many times from the lips of Jesus Himself as he urged His disciples to go into all the world with the Good News – Jesus still says “Go” to us today.
Derek (Guest) 06/07/2013 07:46
I tend to look, see and experience what is happening and have never been a great one for figures or stats but this morning I was watching a video where the pastor of the Grace Church plant in Leith, Edinburgh said that less than 6% of Scots are now regularly attending church and in Leith that figure is just 2%!
Derek (Guest) 27/07/2013 09:12
http://www.freechurch.org/index.php/scotland/news_events_item/former_mods_encouragement_at_new_church_plants/
Seumas, Tobermory (Guest) 29/07/2013 23:14
Regarding church planting, there is an interesting video on YouTube of Mark Driscoll talking about the subject.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIrIKbCz3n4

Driscoll's stats are sobering (more so when you consider that he is talking about the USA) "The body count is really high in the church planting war" "80% of church plants fail" "80% of all churches in America are plateaued and declining" "half of the people who claim to go to church actually do"
"3500 churches dying every year".

If that lot is true in America, what would the stats be like here?
Colin Ford (Guest) 29/07/2013 23:51
Seumas,
I have never understood, and understand less so, the more I study the Scriptures, exactly what Church planting is? It sounds to me like my wife planting cabbages in the garden?
There are many in the "church planting" industry that are constantly doing just that, but not in my humble opinion making disciples? They are trying to create institutions, yet God said this gospel was to be a WITNESS, that is ALL; Matthew 24.14, A witness? That is in my simple understanding, just to convict a sinner of his sins, repent from such and believe in the Saviour? What exactly is Church planting? I thought that failed? Are not churches, chapels, mission halls, call them what you will, being sold off and converted into houses, the length and breadth of our once great nation?
These folk may one day wake up and "smell the coffee" to use a popular secular phrase? History repeats itself?
Now, I AM all for evangelising, but have never known a Biblical church to recommend one to attend.......
Derek (Guest) 30/07/2013 09:53
You go into a community where there is no Christian witness and people begin to re-establish faith and some may become interested in the things of the Gospel for the first time. Where do you go from there? Try and transport them out of the community to a church a mile or two away with which they have nothing in common (that won’t work anyway) or do you remain with the people sharing the hope of the Gospel and creating some form of worshipping community with its many strands? What’s happening on our doorsteps is our priority, that’s where God has “planted us” to be obedient and do the business. Nowadays communities are particularly “territorial” and in general the only reasons residents will leave neighbourhoods are for work and pleasure. “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”
Editor 30/07/2013 10:30
".. or do you remain with the people sharing the hope of the Gospel and creating some form of worshipping community with its many strands"

It seems from the pages of Scripture that this is exactly what happened in the early church. But what church history tells us also happened is that eventually the priest/temple model (with Roman authority structures and Greek thinking) prevailed. So today's 'church planting' progression usually ends up with a 'minister/pastor/building/denomination'.

One of the most visited articles on this website is entitled 'What to look for in a church'. A 'footer' outlines two 'real life' stories -

>>>>
The two following anecdotes differentiate between empire-building and Kingdom-building mindsets; the difference between saving souls into a relationship with God rather than merely getting more bodies in through a set of doors.

1. AC is a man who lives in London and moves among the wealthy and powerful in politics and business. He shares his faith with his peers whenever he can. However he also walks the streets of London speaking to the down-and-outs, the homeless and the disadvantaged. In this latter ministry he has two cardinal rules -
(a) he talks about Jesus, but never invites the person to church. He waits until the person enquires. And even then -
(b) he never automatically takes the person to his own church; rather he assesses which church (local fellowship) would be best suited to the particular person's situation

2. PR is a pastor in America. His church is continually growing by people coming to faith in Christ. But whenever his congregation reaches around 50 believers (+ their families) he divides the church, and encourages his best people to go out and plant a new fellowship (and not just as a satellite, but as an separate fellowship).

The common factor in these two stories is the soul-winning properties of these two men. They are intent on bringing the lost to Christ rather than merely bringing people to church. They are more interested in building the Kingdom of God than in merely increasing the numbers in their buildings on a Sunday morning.
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