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Monday, October 30, 2006

The Pattern For Evangelism

The following is the introduction from my Sunday Morning message for those of you who may have an interest.

Matthew 28:16-20 - Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

We have before us what may be one of the most familiar passages of Scripture to Baptist people. It is commonly referred to as the Great Commission. I suppose this is an appropriate designation. For it is a commission and it is great, therefore it is a Great Commission.

Commission – A formal act of committing some charge or trust to a person.

This is certainly an adequate description of what is taking place here on this appointed mountain. It is a formal meeting between the first church and its head, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is to this church that Christ commits to his church the trust of doing several things. All three of the things with which they are entrusted are with the view of advancing his kingdom.

When Jesus told them at an early stage of his ministry to “seek ye first the kingdom of God” it was ultimately to these three areas of labor that he was to draw their attention. If they would not commit to doing these three things they would not be seeking his kingdom first.

We have God clearly setting forth His pattern for evangelism. It is a simple no frills, straightforward declaration of what we are to be doing. The problem is that the world is not too crazy about being evangelized. If we were to walk up to people and tell them we are going to teach you the word of God with the purpose of making you a disciple, we are then going to baptize you, and then we are going to teach you to observe all things that Jesus taught most people would not be interested in such a proposal.

That is why most people are won in a context of friendship, concern, and compassion. We must win them over to ourselves and then we have a better opportunity of winning them over to the Saviour. Whatever you want to say about New Testament Christianity one thing is for sure. From first to last it is about relationships. It is about a relationship with God through His son Jesus Christ. It is about a relationship between believers. The Paul’s and the Timothy’s of the world. The mature and the babes. The victorious and the struggling. Our whole ability to influence people is directly tied to our relationship to them.

In a day when the books of church growth are multiplying every year it is important to not allow ourselves to get bogged down in the world’s assessment of how we are to do our work.

There are several approaches that we are encouraged to embrace in order to experience church growth.

Business mentality – The church is to see itself as in pursuit of clients and thus implement methods of salesmanship to win the lost.

Fair mentality – The church is to see itself as a civic organization and the challenge is to develop a strategy that will entice the world to attend church. What can we do that is fun is the predominating concern.

Ball Game mentality – The church is to see itself as the arbiter of numerous contest in which people are challenged to bring the most people out so your team can win, even if the team consist only of yourself.

Concert mentality – The church is to see itself as the provider of entertainment. Music is developed and utilized that allows people to experience worship without abandoning worldliness. The emphasis is on music and not on the message.

There are probably others but these are four that come to mind. In fact the four mentioned are mix and match. The important thing is to develop a program that will attract the crowds. If the end is noble then the means does not matter. I could not disagree more. The means as well as the end matters and when it comes to evangelism/church growth the means will have a direct impact on the end. The means will determine what the end looks like.
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