Summary: This sermon deals with having a realistic view of evangelism and its results.
Evangelism Being Real
How we view the word of God, will have a lot to do with shaping our views of evangelism, as to whether it is to be a positive or negative experience. The story is told of two new pastors who were in the same town. Each came to a congregation that had a 100 people attending service. At the end of the first year, one church had grown to 200 in attendance and the other had gone down to 50 in attendance. Each pastor was asked, what happened.
The first said, "Well we simply believe in preaching the Bible as the word of God. When you preach the word, they come flocking into the door. That’s why we have grown to 200 and hope to have 400 next year." The second pastor said, " Well I tell you, we simply believe in preaching the Bible as the word of God. When you preach the word, it’s going to drive a lot of people away. We’re down to 50, but we might lose some of the 50."
We live in a world that is success oriented but often with misplaced values. Too often we inadvertently place churches in the same success at any cost mentality.. We are told, "Forget about what problems you may be having internally and get on with reaching the world for Christ."
Evangelism is do doubt part of the great commission when Jesus said, in Matthew 28:19-20 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
In recognizing the call to go evangelize, we must be careful not to exalt this one area of the church’s ministry above all others, lest we unnecessarily discourage and belittle the ministry of our sisters and brothers who have different talents and gifts than we have. Too often the message given is "you are either an evangelist or you need to be one." Yet the word of God states in Ephesians that he gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists and some to be pastors and teachers.
Perhaps our focus should be on teaching people to be disciples of Jesus Christ rather than evangelists for Christ. The disciple is going to let his or her light shine which will open doors for people to ask why?. The disciple is going to be pro-active in reaching out to meeting the hurts and pains of people which again will open the door to ask why.. The disciple is going to want to bring others to the knowledge of Jesus Christ because he or she is going to be convinced that its in other’s best interest to know who Jesus is.
There is a great need for the person with the gift of evangelism, but we must be honest and recognize that just as everyone can do some pastoral functions, they are not called to be pastors, simply because most people can tell others who Jesus is, does not mean they are called to be evangelist.
The push for evangelism and larger churches has been a blessing to some parts of the body Christ, but it has also been a source of pain for other parts. The small church is not looked upon with great admiration in the Church Growth Movement. Everyone is being encouraged to break all kinds of barriers as though God’s will is truly reserved for the biggest and best churches. The message is, if you’re not growing, you’re obviously missing the will of God. But is church growth the only indication that evangelism is taking place?
Sometimes looking at only a portion of the Scriptures, will cause us to see things as normal that are actually miracles that happen once in a while. We read in Acts that after Peter preached his first sermon three thousand people got saved. A couple of days later, the number has grown to 5000. We say that’s evangelism. We tend to forget that most of these people had a foundation laid for 3 to 5 years of ministry by Jesus Christ himself.
It wasn’t that God was determining that wherever the gospel went, it would explode into large churches. After Acts chapter 8 you see evangelism taking place , but I’m not sure you can find another truly large church in the New Testament in the sense of a mega-church.
An unhealthy view of evangelism may cause us to despise what God has given to us in the church and to see the church in a way that God certainly did not intend it to be. Some of us have seen it as an obstacle that must be moved from over there to over here in order for it to be in the true will of God. Over there is usually measured in terms of members, programs, and budgets, and over here is usually measured in terms of larger members, programs, and budgets.