Evangelism: Fortress or Salt
Evangelism: Fortress or Salt
Last week I sought to establish that there is much to be achieved in evangelism should we make Christ the center of all that we do, or, as Pastor L. McMillan would say, “Begin and end with Christ.” However, for today’s update, I attempt to zero in on two important approaches to evangelism namely: “salt” and “fortress” ministries in the context of beginning and ending with Christ.
Defining Salt and Fortress City Ministries
Fortress Model of Ministry
According to Jon Paulien, in Matthew 5:14, the figure of a fortress city is employed to illustrate “a community that is visible, attractive, and yet carefully protected. In this model the city draws people into itself; its presence is an attracting factor. It doesn’t try to change the world around it; it calls people out of the world.”
Based on Matthew 5: 13, Jesus likens His followers to the “salt of the earth.” Salt is used to illustrate “a community that goes out and mingles with others in a desire to do them good. Just as salt performs its task by blending into a dish of food, so the church, as salt, infiltrates the world and changes it.” Put another way, the Apostle Paul says, in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, that he became like others in order to win them.
Both Are Needed!
For the gospel to be carried, it is important that both of these models be employed in reaching people, but we must not make the mistake of believing that our methods constitute an end in themselves. Methods must be punctuated with Christ for any drawing to take place.
Admittedly, secular thinking requires that the church employ a creative approach as the secular mind do not readily respond. Ways are needed to reach moderns and post moderns. As such, the salt model presents an avenue for reaching such persons. Again, I reference the statement by Ellen White to ensure that we make Christ foundational to reaching people, for people need Him and through His Holy Spirit all people can be reached. Says Mrs. White, “Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me’.” --The Ministry of Healing, p. 143. Put another way, the Apostle Paul says, “That I may know Christ” (Phil. 3:10). Everyone must encounter Him if salvation is to be experienced. However, this does not negate an approach as Mrs. White speaks to a “mingling”. To me that is relationship with others in order to reach them. How is this made possible?
People are reachable through ways and areas that are considered needs. It may not surprise you that there are numerous books on the best selling list related to self-help. People are seeking help for home repairs, marriage, parenting and handling of funds. If we as Adventists were to look at what we are doing (refer to last week’s Ministerial), we will discover that we are engaged in or have programs catering to most concerns. The key is to be intentional and focus on achieving the goal of fulfilling these needs in thus being Christ’s centric. Thereby, we would gain access to persons who otherwise would put up resistance. Church Growth experts tell us that notwithstanding our goal to evangelize, it is important that patience be exercised. People need to know that we who are reaching out can be trusted and that we are genuinely interested in them. So kindness and an ongoing relationship are critical.
Unfortunately, there are risks in “Salt Ministry.” Studies show (for example “Everlasting Gospel,” by Jon Paulien) that it is possible to become too close that one may compromise. Ed Dickerson, in his work Grounds for Belief, relates a story of a lady “who came on to him.” Of course, he did not yield, but instead held to principle thus keeping the discussion on a high principled level. We need always to depend on the Holy Spirit. Clearly defined boundaries must be established, or we are likely to fall and bring reproach upon the church and ourselves. Again, everything we do must be about Christ less we lose our focus even with the best of intentions.
To: All Pastors and Elders
Our Believe His Prophets Online Seminar is this Sabbath – April 8th 2017, 3:30 pm – 6:30 pm Miami time.
Connect to webcast.interamerica.org and choose your language.
We look forward to a very informative and inspirational session.