Friday, October 13, 2006

Theology Matters in One's Philosophy of Ministry

The very reason many contemporary churches embrace pragmatic methodology is that they lack any understanding of God’s sovereignty in the salvation of the elect. They loose confidence in the power of God to use the preached gospel to reach hardened unbelievers. That’s why they approach evangelism as a marketing problem. Their methodology is shaped accordingly. More than 40 years ago, J.I. Packer wrote,


"If we forget that it is God’s prerogative to give results when the gospel is preached, we shall start to think that it is our responsibility to secure them. And if we forget that only God can give faith, we shall start to think that the making of converts depends, in the last analysis, not on God but on us, and that the decisive factor is the way in which we evangelize. And this line of thought, consistently followed through, will lead us far astray.

Let us work this out. If we regarded it as our job, not simple to resent Christ, but actually to produce converts, to evangelize, not only faithfully, but also successfully – our approach to evangelism would be come pragmatic and calculating. We should conclude that our basic equipment, both for personal dealing and for public preaching, must be twofold. We must have, not merely a clear grasp of the meaning and application of the gospel, but also an irresistible technique for inducing a response. . We should, therefore, make it our business to try and develop such a technique. And we should evaluate all evangelism, our own and other people’s, by the criterion, not only of the message preached, but also of visible results. If our own efforts were not bearing fruit, would should conclude that our technique still needed improving. If they were bearing fruit we should conclude that this justified the technique we had been using. We should regard evangelism as an activity involving a battle of wills between ourselves and those to whom we go, a battle in which victory depends on our firing off a heavy enough barrage of calculated effects" (Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God (Downers Grove, Ill.: Intervarsity, 1961), 27-28).

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