Summary: A Biblical response to the Anticonversion Bill promulgated by the Tamilnadu Government in India.
How to multiply Conversions
This message is a sequel to my article, Can Conversions be Stopped? which was pasted on this website (www.stanleyonbible.com) on 18 October 2002 and published in the November 2002 issue of Blessing monthly. I am humbled by the overwhelming response for this article from Christians and Church leaders from all over the world. Many acclaimed that it’s a prophetic voice in the wilderness of confusion the Tamil Church is passing through following the promulgation of the Anticonversion Law.
The keypersons of the Tamilnadu branch of the Blessing Youth Mission requested me to address them on this issue in their annual meet held in Tiruchy, 9-10 November. I write here what I shared with them. Whereas my earlier article was specifically addressed to Tamil Christians, what I write now is a message to all Indian Christians. I perceive that the Tamilnadu anticonversion bill is only an experimentation of a nationwide strategy being worked out by the enemies of the Gospel of Christ. God never had any surprise in all history and He will never have one in future either. Because He has known the end from the 2beginning, and as the Alpha and Omega of eternity past to eternity future, He has already taught us in His Scriptures how to defeat the enemy in any situation. It’s now our responsibility to search the Scriptures with the Spirit’s help to work out a sound and successful strategy against the sinister schemes of the serpent.
The Church is the only society on earth that exists solely for the benefit of its non-members! As John Wesley rightly put it, "The Church has only one business, and that is to win souls!" Christ has not just "commanded" us but "commissioned" us to preach the Gospel. We have no choice. Evangelisation of the world leading to the multiplication of converts is our highest priority. Adverse winds against evangelism may blow more and more vehemently in India in the years to come. The Church of Jesus Christ must be sufficiently equipped for the difficult days ahead. Here’s a list of 7 changes to be effected in our conventional methods so conversions of non-christians to Christ may be multiplied as never before.
1. Public Programmes vs. Personal Work
The impact that mass meetings leave in cities and towns is unmistakable. The gospel becomes the talk of the town. It serves as an occasion for Christians to come out of their minority complex. But it stirs up the hornet’s nest. The antichristian forces get revived. This of course must be anticipated and can be faced. But what’s discouraging is that the gains in terms of genuine conversions are generally minimal. The amount of time, money and energy spent to conduct big programmes doesn’t seem to be worth it. To worsen the situation, mass meetings in India are usually sponsored and addressed by Western preachers. Non-christians especially caste Hindus don’t relish it. Their wrong notions about the origin of Christianity are strengthened.
Christ preached to crowds, but He spent more time with individuals and small groups. Peter and Paul did not always have or look for huge audiences. Conversational evangelism in houses and marketplaces was the most effective method employed by the Lord and the disciples. In spite of the widespread hostility that prevailed in the first century, no one could stop personal soulwinning efforts or conversions. Communism in India grew through tea shops! Let’s spend more time in contacting individuals one by one than for conducting huge meetings. This way we will attract very little public attention but gather a plentiful harvest. I salute Evangelist D. L. Moody (1837-1899) who observed, "Hand plucked fruits are the best!"
2. Clergy vs. Laity
God does call certain individuals to give all their time for the work of His Kingdom. They are to be supported by those who are benefitted by the message they proclaim. Churches must have pastors who would spend all their time to tend the flock. Ministries must have leaders and workers who can give all their time to realise the objectives of the organisations. Ordaining anointed Christians exclusively for the ministry of the Church has Scriptural sanction. But in course of time the Body of Christ gets divided into two groups — ministers and non-ministers. This is utterly unscriptural. The ministry of every minister in the Church is to make every member a minister (Eph 4:11,12). There is no non-clergy in the Church. All members are "priests" to worship God (1 Pet 2:5), and to witness for Him (v 9).
Unless the doctrine of the priesthood and the prophethood of all believers is recovered fully in practice, too few will be attempting to do too big a job accomplishing too little. I am in fulltime Christian service from 1975 and I have been instrumental in leading hundreds of youngsters into fulltime ministry. But I have come to the conclusion that evangelism is too big a task to be left to the professionals. Wars are not fought by Generals but by soldiers! In olden days the Spirit of God came on select individuals only. But the endtime outpouring is promised for "all flesh" — "sons... daughters... young men... old men... men servants... women servants" (Acts 2:17,18). This sort of outpouring is to get every Christian involved in reaching every non-christian (v 21).