Why are some churches building new worship facilities to cater for growing numbers while others are turning out the lights and closing the doors for the last time because so few are attending? Could it have anything to do with the priority given to evangelism?
Every congregation would love to see unbelievers attending regularly - finding faith, being nurtured, and growing in their understanding and relationship with Yahshua. This is the object of church leaders, the ambition of members; it’s the commission of the Master. Reaching out to unbelievers with the Gospel should be normal for churches. Sadly, for many it’s a mere dream.
Please don’t give up reading now. Take a gulp and continue; the Father wants to speak to you!
The first century congregation was challenged and inspired. It was defined by the message it was compelled and propelled to proclaim to the world (summed up in John 3:16, Romans 5:8, and 2 Corinthians 5:21). Humanity’s need for that message hasn’t changed, neither has the message itself - it’s ageless. It still has the power to radically transform lives (Romans 1:16). The church has become very good at providing charitable services that meet the ‘felt’ or ‘natural’ needs of multitudes in society. However, people’s eternal wellbeing, which can only be secured by the Gospel message, isn’t being proclaimed with the passion, power, and urgency as before.
In some cases evangelism is taking third, fourth or even fifth place in the priorities of the church’s ministry - and we’re now seeing the effects. This can’t be, surely! Local church leaders must refocus on the first priority - taking the Good News about Yahshua to those estranged from Yahweh. We can offer various reasons why evangelism may have slipped from being a high priority, but there is no excuse for not taking steps to rebalance the situation.
Yahshua’s final word to His followers was, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:19-20). This has been the marching orders of the church for generations and must, in our modern world, spearhead the church’s purpose and work. The first step in making disciples is evangelism. We must connect with and reach people with the message of hope. From that point we nurture and care for the new believers. Nevertheless, evangelism must be at the leading edge of what we do in fulfilling Yahshua’s commission.
Yahshua made it very clear that His own purpose was ‘to seek and to save’ the lost (Luke 19:1-10). He resisted the pressures of the religious who wanted Him, as a priority, to focus His attention on those who already had faith. Instead He steadfastly sought, and went out to, lost sinners. We ought to have the same attitude.
Leaders, we must act decisively and put evangelism in its rightful place in the congregation’s ministry. Let’s not succumb to pressures from inside and out to do nothing. Here are some steps to consider:
Evangelism is the sob of [Elohim]. It is the anguished cry of [Yahshua] as He weeps over a doomed city.
It is the cry of Paul, ‘I could wish that I myself were accursed from Messiah for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.’
Evangelism is the heart-winning plea of Moses, ‘Oh this people have sinned - yet now, if you wilt, forgive their sin - if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of the book which thou hast written.’
It is the cry of John Knox, ‘Give me Scotland or I die.’ It is the declaration of John Wesley, ‘The world is my parish.’ It is the sob of parents in the night, weeping over a prodigal child.
LUKE 15:7 (HCSB)
[Yahshua said], “I tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who don’t need repentance.”
LUKE 14:21-23 (NCV)
The master . . . said, “Go at once into the streets and alleys of the town, and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.” Later the servant said to him, “Master, I did what you commanded, but we still have room.” The master said to the servant, “Go out to the roads and country lanes, and urge the people there to come so my house will be full.”
Father, I come to You in anguish of soul, knowing that multitudes in our communities are alienated from You because they’ve wilfully turned their backs on You and are living without You. They’re on their way to hell! As your heart yearns for them cause mine to be filled with compassion for them, resulting in action that will powerfully express your love to them. Help me to refocus my attention on the priority of reaching sinners with the Gospel. Grant me strength to lead the congregation to seek and save the lost. I rededicate myself to this.
For just as each of us has one body with many members...