A Culture of Evangelism1
Dear Harvest Family,
I have to say – I’m enjoying the Galatians sermon series even more than I thought I would. I am thoroughly enjoying taking a deep dive into the pure gospel! I know that others have felt the same way. The gospel never gets old. It's always exactly the good news we need to hear. It is the fountain of life and joy and health and peace in the midst of a broken world and messy lives.
One of the reasons I am so eager to have a full-time evangelist at Harvest is that it seems wrong to keep this incredible good news to ourselves. There are lost, sinful, broken, and dying image-bearers all around us. And they desperately need to hear the only message that can rescue, cleanse and heal them.
Our goal, at Harvest, is to keep the main thing the main thing - the gospel. We are already preaching the gospel. We teach the gospel in Bible studies and small groups. We encourage one another with the gospel. But we are not very good at sharing the gospel. What we are lacking is someone to help us intentionally engage unbelievers and develop a culture of evangelism here at Harvest.
I shared some of these thoughts at the Congregational Forum this past Monday night. But I thought I would let you read and consider it. Why should Harvest hire an evangelist?
- Because of the Great Commission. Jesus clearly calls his church to “make disciples”. He couldn’t have been more clear. In the Book of Revelation, we find in the 7 letters to the churches that obedience to Christ looks like refuting heresy and engaging in mission.
- Ephesus – they were orthodox but had abandoned a love for Christ that drove them to mission. The warning was that their lampstand, their witness, would be taken away. “Use it or lose it” seems to be the message.
- The churches of Sardis and Laodicea both had reputations for health – but were, in fact, inward-focused and the Lord had no word of recommendation for them.
- Because it is essential to a healthy church. One of the greatest dangers in West Michigan Christianity is false presumption. People think they are Christian because they go to church – but they have never been truly born again. J. Mack Stiles in his book on evangelism says one of the reasons you want a culture of evangelism in your church is not for those outside the church – but for those inside the church. It helps those who are unconverted to realize this fact as they see genuine conversions taking place. It also helps those who are weak in their faith to grow as they are challenged to disciple new believers. This seems to be what Paul had in mind in Philemon 6.
I think young people would benefit particularly from a ministry like this. It will help them to understand and explain the Christian faith as they share it with others. I believe a culture of evangelism is one of the best things we could possibly pursue for the spiritual health of every member of Harvest church.
- Because people are dying without Christ all around us. We need to learn to see people the way God sees them: as image-bearers under the verdict of judgment and as the world He so loved "that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16).
I recounted to you an email I received this week. I’m including it here with permission:
“I had a great conversation last week with a man I met on the street called Dominic. He was dying of pancreatic cancer and carried a very big burden of guilt for having left his wife and child in the last years. God prepared the moment perfectly to share with him the Good News of taking our guilt to the Cross of Christ!"
Grand Rapids is full of “Dominics”. Let’s learn how to speak to them of the glorious love of God for sinners in the gospel.
In His Service,