Is the Fervor of Evangelism Waning?
Is the Fervor of Evangelism Waning?
Depending on who is questioned, an answer to the above question is likely to result in a “yes” or “no” response. Admittedly, there is more that can and ought to be done when it comes to evangelism. Unfortunately, when evangelism is mentioned, the idea of a church or tent crusade is conjured up. However, I would want us to broaden our thinking in considering the numerous potentially-evangelistic opportunities within and outside the church weekly and, in some instances, daily.
Intentional and Strategic Evangelism
Unless we view these ministries as evangelistic in nature, we are not likely to go beyond providing just a service. In other words, our ministries ought to be strategic if we are to experience results, be they short-term or long. The concern is simply, “Is there a definite purpose to what we do?” The intention must be clear and obvious to us as we engage in the services and initiatives of the church. In our initiatives, as leaders we must educate ourselves and members to see that what we do is more than just providing a service or program; it is ministry with a purpose, and that is “Uplifting Christ that persons may be drawn to Him” (John 12:32). Thereby, what we do will be purposeful!
Revisiting Some of our Ministries
Has it occurred to you that every week Sabbath School is conducted with visitors in attendance? Every Sabbath service held is attended by visitors and former members! Currently, there are Vacation Bible schools, Summer Camp and ongoing Pathfinder meetings. Marriage Clubs, soup kitchens, sporting activities, wellness programs, media ministries such as Hope TV, 3ABN, radio, newspaper inserts, Internet, Facebook, Instagram, choirs, etc. And these are not all the programs that are available. Honestly, were you aware of all of these and the ones that are done by persons like yourself each day or week to assist others? Truth be told, some of us may not have considered the potential and opportunities these initiatives represent for drawing persons to Christ, as we sometimes fail to call for responses or decisions or even follow-up. Our ministries must be intentional –that is they must be about uplifting Christ, and He will draw persons by the Holy Spirit unto Himself.
Benefits of Ministry with a Purpose!
Consider our tent outreach. It is obvious that there is not the same appeal; and yet the expenses continue to mount up, and the results may not be what we want, but do we give up or explore ways to make them serve our objective? That we ought to do, but the focus must be always on uplifting Christ in every message and in all aspects of the campaign. Otherwise, we are likely to give in to pressure or create pressure of our own in order to achieve results. However, with a greater emphasis on prayer and deliberately seeking to share with others what Christ means to us, it is quite possible that we will witness a greater excitement. And that kind of result is not limited to tent evangelism.
If I could sense the value of uplifting Christ in all that I do, I can have a sustained approach to evangelism as opposed to a seasonal approach. This requires time and commitment in training my members so that evangelism becomes a way of life as opposed to something we do every now and then.
Most of the ministries conducted by the church are meeting felt-needs, which is basic to reaching people with the good news, but if they do not go beyond the basic needs to the ultimate need for Christ, these ministries essentially will fall short and lose focus. Ellen White clearly noted: “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. The latter part of bidding people to follow Jesus speaks to ministry with an objective.
The drop-out rate is likely to decrease when relationships are formed and there is interaction between the old and new members, for in nurturing new believers the aim is to get them to see the value of knowing Christ and leading others to know and experience Him. One of my university professors, Jon Paulien, observed, “Although public evangelism often succeeds in increasing baptisms, it does not always result in sustained church growth.” Furthermore, Paulien noted that “They joined a church that met five nights a week, used lots of visual aids, and had exciting music performed by professionals. After baptism, people are expected to settle for once a week, few visual aids if any, and a piano or organ played with minimum of enthusiasm. A little reflection indicates that the quality of Sabbath worship is crucial to sustaining church growth—and not just among secular people.” Everlasting Gospel, Ever Changing World, p.177.
So one can deduce that we employ strategies to get people into the church, and when those strategies are not maintained following the crusade, there is a disconnect. Therefore, the question is relevant: “Is the focus on getting people to know Christ?” Evangelism is not dead and will not die as long as there is Christ. However, evangelism will not realize its full potential until you and I are awakened to what is God’s purpose for our lives and we truly focus on knowing Him better.
To: All Pastors and Elders
Our Believe His Prophets Online Seminar is almost here – 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.