If you are committed to evangelism—you’ll notice I did not use the word missions for fear of being redefined—and if you believe that the mission of members of the Kingdom of God is apostolic (bearers of a message) not just diaconic (servants), then you are a little concerned about the trend lines that I have suggested in the two previous posts.
If you believe that faith comes from hearing the Word of God and that people have trouble hearing the Word without someone to preach it—as Paul argued in Romans 10:14—then you are also concerned that being salt and light in the world is our mission as Christians, but if those seekers who discover the salt and see the light don’t know what to use it on or where the light is leading them, then they could remain hopelessly lost.
No one can come to the Father except through the Son, and no one has found the Son without knowing that Jesus is the Son of God and that He is raised from the dead. They have to hear the Gospel story. No amount of good that they receive in the neighborhood will communicate the Good News unless those who serve also share the Story. “We believe, therefore, we speak” (2 Corinthians 4:13)!
The projections of the last post based on the trends and tendencies in my first post could be taken as discouraging—but only if there were no hope! Trends and tendencies, however, are not prescriptions! Our God is victorious, so any defeats are just momentary. Even a valley of dry bones can be resurrected to life—and we are not dry bones yet, so there is much we can do to reverse what might seem to some as inevitable.
We need to relentlessly pursue holistic missions! Jesus went about preaching and healing (Matt. 4:23;9:35). We should do the same.
What would happen in our churches if those proposing every evangelistic effort were asked to show how they were going to tangibly show love and compassion to their audience? No evangelism without a compassion ministry component.
What would happen in our churches if those who planned and/or executed every service project, benevolent work, and every relief effort were asked to prayerfully consider and propose an appropriate time and means for introducing the Message to those benefited by their service? No demonstration ministry without a plan for proclamation.
There is no competition between social justice and evangelism; it should be one and the same.
We need to find our urgency of mission. Out of almost 7 billion people in the world, 2 billion claim to be Christians. If we don’t believe in judgment, if we don’t believe in Satan, if we don’t believe in Eternal darkness, if we don’t believe that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life—then we can relax because there is no urgency.
If we believe that Jesus came “to seek and save the lost”(Luke 19:10), then we can’t relax any more than Jesus did. We have to work—while it is still Day (John 9:4). The Night is coming!
We need to raise up an Army of Youth to fight for the Lord of Hosts! This may require intervention—because our young church leaders/ministers are of the same generation as our children and grandchildren as far as evangelism goes. This may be a great time for elders to shepherd their youngest sheep!
I would like to see young children learning the heroic and inspirational stories of great Christian saints, then in middle school we should intentionally work with them on sharing their faith—verbally. What do they tell their friends who ask them why they believe in God or why they believe Jesus is the only way. Group evangelism is especially appropriate for these young teens.
By high school then, having learned and practiced their mission at home, they would be ready for going other places, experiencing perhaps real poverty of both wealth and faith.
During college, they would then want to continue speaking the Name and doing Good in the world, and some—many more—would want to do internships and apprenticeships after college. And those who do not feel called to make it their life, would go into their marriages and their careers with a completely different framework—a missional framework—for every day of their lives.
We need churches who can imagine that God can use their resources to do things they can’t even imagine!
- Which churches among us will pick up the list of unevangelized countries and build their mission strategy around that information?
- Which churches are ready to take on the Muslim world?
- Which churches have the capacity and endurance to commit to work in the highly industrialized, yet predominantly secular countries?
- Which churches will choose the nations where it is time for seed-sowing, not for harvesting?
- Which churches will use the wealth of their congregations in places of extreme poverty, serving and proclaiming, at the expense of their own comfort?
And finally, we need courageous mission efforts! Let’s ban any sentence that starts with
- “I’m afraid, if we do that . . . .”
- “I’m afraid we don’t have the . . . .”
- “I’m afraid our members won’t want to . . . .”
- “I’m afraid it would take away from . . . .”
- “I’m afraid someone might think that . . . .”
- “I’m afraid that’s bigger than we can . . . . “
The Revelation is clear that the “cowardly” are not at the banquet of the Lamb (21:8). The Witnesses are!
One brother who attended this class at the Pepperdine Bible Lectures raised his hand and said, “Mark, you’ve been too negative. Give us something positive we can feel good about.”
I replied, “If you hear this as negative, then I’ve failed to communicate. While there are trends and attitudes that concern me, I have no fear for the Kingdom of God and great hope for Churches of Christ.
Our churches are living, dynamic expressions of the body of Christ and filled with His Spirit. We are human, therefore flawed, but not without His grace and His blessing, so where we are weak, He can make us strong.
And I’m certainly 100% positive that the Kingdom of God will prevail against the Gates of Hell. Led by our Redeemer on a white horse, we will continue to attack the fortress of Evil until the final battle is accomplished. The Victory is won!
I really want to win my little portion of the Great Battle for the glory and honor of Jesus. Don’t you?