Thursday, December 23, 2010

Plan of Evangelism by Glenn Leatherman


The fuel and goal of all evangelism is true heartfelt worship that celebrates and enjoys God. The Evangelism that flows from God-centered worship are the bookends (so to speak) of Disciplemaking that obeys the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20).


I believe in evangelism and missions because I believe its necessity is taught in the Bible. People have broken God's law and are in need a savior to save them from the wrath of God. The Bible declares that “there is one God, and [only] one mediator also between God and men, the man Jesus Christ.” (1 Timothy 2:5). This is why we must be involved personally, prayerfully, and financially in the cause of Evangelism and International Missions in order to bring joy to the nations. The following are some biblical principles as it relates to my plan of evangelism.

WE MUST UNDERSTAND THAT RELATIONSHIPS ARE A KEY - NOT HE KEY - TO EVANGELISM AND MISSIONS
Aggressive initiative evangelism and relational evangelism are the same thing. Barna states “Unchurched people are less relational than churched people. The typical strategy of reaching them through personal relationships may not be as effective as assumed.” The Bible affirms this in commanding Christians to aggressively initiate relationships with the purpose to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We should not wait till we think our relationship or friendship is perfect to share the Gospel.

Building relationships is NOT THE key to evangelism (only a key that God may or may not use). Building relationships may help you become friends with others, and may be a way that God uses to give you an opportunity to share the Gospel (especially with those He is calling effectually to salvation), but it is NOT THE key to evangelism. Friendship evangelism and initiative evangelism are the same thing – witnessing. The key to evangelism is simply to take the initiative to proclaim the Gospel in obedience to God’s command, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and out of a passionate desire for the supremacy and glory of God! God, the one who we worship, is in charge of the results and will bring the repentance necessary for salvation. This is our missionary mandate.

WE MUST UNDERSTAND THAT THE GOSPEL EXCLUDES PEOPLE WHO DO NOT TRUST IN CHRIST ALONE
The Christian message of the Gospel is exclusive. There is only one way to be saved and that is by faith and trust alone in the Lord Jesus Christ. If people have not heard about our Lord Jesus Christ, about His Gospel, about His death on the cross, about His resurrection, etc., they are still dead in their trespasses and sins (Romans 1-3), and will be eternally punished for this sins. That is why those who love God are motivated with compassion (Luke 9:36-38) to evangelize the all nations of the Word.

WE MUST UNDERSTAND THAT EVANGELISM TRAINING IS NOT ARTIFICAL WITNESSING BUT WITNESSING AS A WAY OF LIFE.
I have trained people in Evangelism Explosion for years, but this specific training tends to saturate in the church with only specific people with verbal gifts. In my experience it tends not to be comprehensive – including every member of the congregation. Scripture says that it is the responsibility of everyone to be part of the evangelism ministry of the church, so there should be ways that everyone can and should participate in evangelism training. Even those people who don’t have verbal gifts are still responsible for witnessing verbally. It is a cop-out to say that I don’t have the gift of evangelism (if Ephesians 4:11 is a gift and not just an office), so I will leave that ministry to others. Many times evangelism become artificial when all evangelism done in the training program is with people outside of one’s organic sphere of influence. Yes we can call everyone within 10 miles of our church (1.5 million people) to share the gospel, but that that tends to become artificial with limited success. Fishermen enjoy going to new ponds, lakes, rivers, etc. to fish because of their delight in fishing. Thus it is incumbent upon every Christian to engage new people and new fishing pools with the intent of sharing the gospel for the delight of seeing God’s name treasured by more and more people, For this reason our emphasis should always be training for Evangelism as a way of life because it is then that people are more intentional and read to engage new people and new fishing poos with the intent of sharing the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

WE MUST UNDERSTAND THAT EVANGELISM AND MISSIONS IS SOMETIMES ABOUT NOT MAKING FRIENDS
If I have won anyone to the Lord, I can honestly say that they are not a Christian. We will never make anyone a Christian, God does that. I never beat people over the head with the Gospel, I simply proclaim the good news and call for a response or a verdict. I desire to make friends and will if the person wants to discuss and get together again, but they know going into the relationship where I stand on the Gospel, and the basis of a continued relationship. I hear people tell me that the hardest people to share the Gospel with is their family and friends over and over. That is because we have a false concept of relational or friendship evangelism. You must proclaim Gospel with your life, love, and lips at all times. If you leave out the verbal proclamation, you will be witnessing about yourself and not be witnessing about Jesus. Your family and friends need to know from the start whose you are and who you worship. If you try to be secretive about this to develop a friendship, you are denying whose you are. Sometimes evangelism is about not making friends. Sharing the Gospel is about calling people to repentance (to change radically), about calling people to become disciples of Jesus Christ, about calling people to submit to the Lordship of Christ, and not just getting people to believe a certain set of facts about Jesus Christ. People will reject you because they are unwilling to repent and follow our Lord, Jesus Christ, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t aggressively proclaim the Gospel to them. In fact if this wrong understanding of friendship evangelism is the highest or only method for evangelism, then some people will never hear the gospel because they have no Christian friends.

WE MUST UNDERSTAND THAT EVANGELISM AND MISSIONS IS ABOUT GOD SOVEREIGNTY AND DIVINE APPOINTMENTS.
There are divine appointments which God is creating for us in order that we may witness and be involved in missions. Let me also note that God is working on both sides of the Evangelism equation – the lost and the witness. God is both effectively drawing lost people to salvation and effectively drawing and causing Christians to desire to take the initiative in witnessing. Salvation is still a sovereign act of God, and while we must have strategies and methods, we must never trust in them. Only by the grace of God does anyone become regenerated so that he or she can understand the Gospel and put their total faith and trust in Christ alone. So as you can see Evangelism is all about what God is doing, His name, His glory, His power, His purpose, His sovereignty, etc. He has chosen to use us in his plan for building his Kingdom. Let's get to it...

WE MUST UNDERSTAND THAT THE ONLY WAY WE CAN FAIL IN WITNESSING IS TO FAIL TO WITNESS
I cannot see how millions of professing Christians can be content in their Christian life while committing the “sin of silence.” (They are simply out of fellowship with God or lost themselves). When we stand before God, we will be without excuse. I know some Christians would say “I am not perfect and we all still sin” as an excuse for not obeying God in witnessing. I would respond by stating that God’s Word states clearly that a Christian cannot continue to live or abide in sin and stay content. God has promised His children that He will not let us stay in a state of rebellion - “No one who is born of God practices (continues to practice without conviction and enjoys to practice of) sin…” (see 1 John 3:6, 9 for full verses, above rendering is my translation). Backsliding without being convicted of sin is a contradiction for every genuine Christian. God’s word of encouragement to every Christian who is not witnessing or making disciples is to “repent and worship God with all your heart!” There is no other word He can say. You don’t need a 12-step group to help you overcome your personal problems before you can witness. A true Christian cannot enjoy or be content with not being a witness. Missions and Evangelism is a call to repentance to both the Christian and the Lost. We must understand that the only way one can fail in witnessing (or missions) is to fail to witness (or be on mission). Evangelism and missions by definition is always successful when it is done because it is dependent on God. Becoming friends with a lost person is great, but it is the Christian’s responsibility to take the initiative to proclaim Gospel, even if it means loosing a friend. No one method can produce Christians.

WE MUST UNDERSTAND THAT THE KEY TO EVANGELISM AND MISSIONS IS REALLY WORSHIP
The key to missions and evangelism is really worship. Worship is ultimate. “Worship is the fuel and goal of missions [,evangelism, and ministry],” declares John Piper. “The reason we need to evangelize today is because [true] worship [of God] doesn’t exist. The goal of evangelism and missions is to bring all the nations into the white-hot enjoyment of God’s glory. “The goal of missions is the gladness of the peoples in the greatness of God. ...’Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee. O let the nations be glad and sing for joy’” (Ps. 67: 3, 4 KJV). (John Piper, Let the Nations be Glad, pp. 11). Worship is fuel and goal missions. “Passion for God in worship precedes the offer of God in missions, evangelism, and preaching. You cannot commend what you do not cherish. Missionaries will never call out “Let the nations be glad” who cannot say from the heart “I rejoice in the Lord… I will be glad and exult in thee, I will sing praise to thy name, O Most High.” (Psalm 104:34; 9:2). (Piper, p.11) We must understand that Evangelism, missions and ministry all begins and ends in true worship of God. 

No comments:

Post a Comment