Christians are Biblically and historically know as a called people. However, I fear that with each passing year, believers are forgetting what they have been called to do. Cultural Christianity is rapidly taking the place of Biblical Christianity. Catchy clichés are quipped more quickly than Bible verses. And an ever changing array of the latest fads in outreach methodologies are being utilized by churches instead of looking to the scriptures for our evangelism blueprint. In our evangelistic zeal, I fear that this 21st century Christian culture is neglecting to examine the Biblical pattern of evangelism that was given through the prophets, the Apostles, and Christ Himself, and instead attempting to use worldly tactics to draw sinners to the Savior.
I mentioned yesterday on social media that I was greatly bothered by a post I saw by someone attempting to promote their church so that others would come. The post read, “Come to our church. We’re the church for people who don’t do church.” Others have also spoken of this church, boasting of its amazing performances, its entertaining speakers, and its vast fun filled programs for the family. Not once was the Gospel presented. Not once was the aim of Christ’s glory mentioned. They desired to be known as, “The church for people who don’t do church.”
The justification for this statement is always something like this; “Well we have to get them into the church somehow.” What is actually being said is, “The Gospel is powerless and not attractive, so we need to disguise it by appealing to their flesh.” Let me say that I am not anti church programs nor am I against outreach strategies. But the question must be asked, “What is our main objective in evangelism?” Is it to get people on a membership role? Or is it to glorify God?” Even more to the point, “Are we sharing the Gospel and presenting Christ as Savior in our evangelism?”
I fear that we have forgotten the 1 Peter 2:9 mandate that says that all believers are a Royal Priesthood;
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9.
The mindset of today’s evangelism is to get people into the church by any means except confronting them with their need for a Savior. The mindset is, “Lets get them in the church and THEN, once we’ve enticed them with appealing to their desires the Pastor can preach to them.” But if we are truly to be a Royal Priesthood, shouldn’t that mean that it’s not only the Pastor’s job to present the Gospel, but the duty of every believer and the purpose of evangelism?
How you draw men to the church then becomes the measure as to how you must keep them in.
If people are drawn to the church by the tag line, “We’re the church for people who don’t do church”, then you cannot do “Church” in any way that will come across as being contrary to their expectations. If you draw people with cotton candy and balloons, then you will have to keep with the same methods.
In John chapter 6, Jesus fed 5000 people by miraculously multiplying five barley loaves and two fish. The people were so amazed by this feat that they followed Him, even wanting to make Jesus their King. They followed Jesus across the sea to Capernaum. When they finally caught up to Jesus, the crowds were eager to see another miracle from Christ. And Jesus spoke directly to them.
“Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.” John 6:26.
Jesus then proceeded to begin teaching them doctrine. He began teaching them about Himself being the bread of life. No more miracles. No more entertainment. And the multitudes of people turned and walked away from Christ until he was left with only the original twelve.
“After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.” John 6:66.
What we draw men with is how we must then keep them.
So how do we properly evangelize? Recognizing the role we have as Royal Priest, how do we witness to others around us? The most effective pattern that I’ve ever seen has been recorded in the scriptures and it is seen time and time again.
Reluctantly, Jonah went to the wicked city of Nineveh to evangelize the people as God had commanded. He confronted the people with their need for a Savior. He spoke of the wrath of God against sinners, and the Salvation that the Lord offered to those who would repent of their ways. And the people saw their transgressions and repented before Holy God.
“Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.” Jonah 3:4-5.
In Nehemiah chapter 8 the prophet Ezra began to preach from the Word of God in the town square, reading from the law and exposing to the people how they had all transgressed against the Lord and we’re in need of saving. The response from the hearers was weeping and heartfelt conviction of their sins.
“And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law.” Nehemiah 8:9.
One of the most notable examples of evangelism is seen after the resurrection at Pentecost. Peter preached to thousands of people and many Jews who had been instrumental in condemning Christ to death. Peter, like the prophets before him, preached the Gospel. He exposed the people to their own sins by pointing them to Christ. And the result was mass repentance and true conversions.
“Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” Acts 2:36-41.
In our evangelism, there is nothing wrong with highlighting the great things about our churches. There is nothing wrong with noting the great fellowship they will find within, the Christ centered programs that are at their disposal, and the wonderful people they will meet. My concern is this; are we seeking opportunities to have the hard conversations with people? Are we proclaiming the Gospel and trusting in its power to save or are we ashamed of it and fearful that it needs our help?
I heard a pastor once tell of one of his members trying to explain why he didn’t share the Gospel with his friends. This member told his pastor, “I don’t share the Gospel and speak of sin because I don’t want to run them off from church!” The Pastor replied, “Where are you going to run them to, Hell number two?”
When we take time to present people with the Gospel, and let them see how Christ has saved and transformed us, then He will be seen as a Savior and not self help guru. He will be cherished as a treasure and not a means to their fleshly desires. Those that only are coming for the entertainment will leave just as quickly when the fish and loaves are replaced with doctrinal preaching.
There are numerous approaches to putting ourselves in front of people to evangelize. But there is only one method that has been ordained to draw men for the right reasons, and that is the sharing (preaching) of the Gospel, not just from the pulpit on Sunday mornings, but in the context of everyday life, engaging with those whom God has placed in the path of each of His children.
Let us never become so consumed with attempting to get people in the church that we forget the reason for our outreach to begin with. Let us never become “The church for People who don’t do church.” Pragmatism is always easier than sharing the Gospel. When we neglect to share the Gospel in our evangelism, we show that we are trusting in our own strength and not the strength contained in speaking the Word of God.
“Thus says the LORD: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD.” Jeremiah 17:5.
The Gospel is the only way that men will ever be saved. The evangelistic methods of the prophets, the Apostles, and Christ Himself will prove no less effective today than it was in their day. May we always trust in the power of the Word to change and transform.
“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” Romans 10:14
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Romans 1:16