Becoming a Healthier Church: Evangelism-May 29, 2013
Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Acts 17:28
When a church things about its health numbers are not always the best sign of health. A church can be healthy and smaller. I believe that part of the misunderstanding is in the idea that we are to be growing our church through evangelism. Although growth is not necessarily a problem we should be seeking to advance His Kingdom. Too often in recent years through poor examples and poorer motives evangelism has become somewhat of a dirty word. It has (right or wrong) drawn attention as religious people being pushy, they don’t care about me I’m just a number, and all they really want is my money and could care less about my soul. Please do not understand me to be saying this is true of all evangelistic efforts, but I think we have to be honest that these perceptions are out there. In any case even if we did not contribute to that lack of trust in evangelism doesn’t mean that we are not climbing an up-hill struggle.
It may be helpful here at the start to ask ourselves, what do we think of when we hear the word evangelism? There will most like be some answers that have similar parts but there may also be some differences as well. I think to begin to look at evangelism honestly we need to define what we mean when we use this word in context of our study here. Evangelism begins with the idea of fulfilling the Great Commission typically by proclamation. It is bringing the message of the good news that Jesus Christ died for our sins, and was raised from the dead according to the Scriptures, and that as the reigning Lord now offers the Spirit to all who repent and believe.” The methods for doing so will be varied as well as the results, some methods include personal, mass, and saturation evangelism. The goal is to bring people into a new relationship with God through Jesus Christ and enable them to commit their lives to him.
Evangelism is really a practical continuation of the work of discipleship. As disciples we are called to present people with the life-saving message of Jesus Christ. Evangelism is the good news itself, and those who share this can be called evangelists, but in the original language angelos meaning angel, herald, or messenger. When you think about it biblical most angels were bringing a message from God to the hearers. In the last session we spoke about discipleship in terms of the communication of information or knowledge, seeing it or lived out, and then imitation. I believe evangelism is the extension of these three to a fourth which is participation.
Truly, we will never be able to adequately imitate Christ with the same result but we see ourselves in sharing this good news as those who are participating in it. We are witnesses of the work of God in shaping the world around us and on a more person level our own lives. We are them become the embodiment of the message and all of life becomes the message of the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ. We are now participants in the grace that saved us and gave us new life. It is not our plan or our work but His we are the proof and the product if you will. The product should sell itself (sorry could help the cheesy analogy).
Discipleship is more of an inward function of the life of faith but also begins to move us in grace from the place where we are to share the mighty act of God upon our lives. In so doing we will be bringing not only the message in word but in flesh to the world as they see us as both recipients and participants in the grace of God in Jesus Christ. This is what it is to be the body of Christ that we as recipients of His grace become participants in that same saving grace and in so doing help with world to see that there really is good news.