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How An Evangelist Can Compromise, And Grieve The Holy Spirit (Part 2)

3 June 2013 No Comment

the evangelistLast blog I talked about how an evangelist can compromise their calling and grieve the Holy Spirit.

I ended the blog by saying this:

“Today’s evangelists are under enormous pressure to compromise their God-given job description and the vast majority have succumbed.

Instead of equipping people in the Church how to proclaim or spread the gospel for the glory of Jesus, they have instead turned to teaching people “other skills and behaviours”: how to build friendships with the un-churched, how to be a person of influence, how to give a testimony, how to invite people to church, how to have a conversation with a non-Chrisitan, how to move in the supernatural, etc etc, ..the list is endless.

Not that any of these “other skills / behaviours” is wrong.

Clearly they are not.

They are all to be encouraged. Praying for healing for the sick and giving our testimonies are entirely biblical.  After we have proclaimed the gospel, we ought to offer to pray for the sick and be full of expectation that God will heal.

whats the problemSo what’s the problem?”

That’s where I ended my last blog.

In this blog I am going to explain the problem:

(1) Biblically, these “other” skills / behaviours were never meant to be the core business of an Ephesians 4:11-14 evangelist.

The core business of an evangelist is to equip the saints for the work of ministry.

That is to say, to equip everyone in the Church who doesn’t have the gift of evangelism, showing them how to evangelise i.e how to proclaim or spread the gospel.

(2) Nowhere in the Bible are these “other”skills / behaviours” portrayed as the core business of a Christian, let alone an Ephesians 4:11-14 evangelist.

If and when these “other skills” are mentioned in the bible, they are not the priority.

They are part of the mix, but not the priority.

majoring on the minors copy

We evangelists have erred greatly when these behaviours take the place of equipping people to do evangelism.

When we do this, we are guilty of majoring on the minors.

What is THE major for all believers?

The major for all believers is the evangelisation of the world.

To evangelise the world is to complete the Great Commission.

By “evangelise the world”, I mean that everyone on the earth hears the Christian gospel at least once, and understands it conceptually.

This, dear friends in Christ, is THE mission of the Church in the world i.e. it’s the main thing.

Derek princeAccording to Derek Prince (at left)  and many other scholars, it’s the thing to which everything else we do in the Church must be secondary and subsidiary.

The Great Commission has five parts: go, proclaim the gospel, baptise those who are saved, disciple those who are baptised.

Of these four parts, proclaiming the gospel is the priority,  since the New Testament presents this behaviour as the core activity of a genuine disciple.

That is to say, if THE mission (i.e. the main thing) of the Church is to evangelise the world, what, logically, ought to be the priority of every discipleship program?

That’s right – teaching disciples how to evangelise.

If THE mission is ever going to be completed, the disciples need to know, as their first priority, how to complete it and be motivated to complete it.

It’s a no brainer.

So, where to from here?

WHY CHURCH LEADERS ARE SO IMPORTANT

local church leadershipFrom the discussion so far, it’s not hard to see that a big part of this vision to call evangelists back to their Biblical job description depends on pastors and leaders at all levels of the Church.

The fact is, evangelists can’t mobilise whole churches for evangelism unless pastors open the door.

Herein lies one of the major challenges facing the modern Church.

Most church leaders have zero desire to invite an evangelist into their church whose desire is to equip all their people for evangelism.

It’s not even on their radar.

This is because most pastors and leaders today do not have it in their heart to engage in personal evangelism themselves.

Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, the passionate desire to leave their office and go into the world and proclaim the gospel to a stranger is just not there.

In fact, many leaders have so succumbed to making these “other skills and behaviours” the priority that the thought of inviting an evangelist in to mobilise all their people for evangelism makes them feel nauseous.

Some, believe it or not, even openly argue against teaching their people how to evangelise.

Of those who do want to teach all the people in their churches how to evangelise, many will only want their people to communicate a sugar coated, watered down, “God is Love” “soft” gospel message – a message with all the hard sayings of Jesus stripped out.

In other words, a gospel message which is really not THE gospel at all. For Paul the Apostle, this is a tragedy beyond words (Galatians 1:6-9 “Woe to you if you preach another gospel”)

How have evangelists reacted to this?

Most have buckled under pressure and done what pastors have wanted them to do i.e. to teach everything except how to proclaim or spread the gospel.

As such, many pastors and leaders are unwittingly working against evangelists who want to be true to their Biblical job description.

a house dividedThat is to say, they are unwittingly working against the completion of the Great Commission.

We have become, to quote Jesus, a house divided against itself (Matthew 12:25) i.e. Jesus wants one thing, and pastors want another.

How have so many of today’s pastors and leaders got like this?

Answer: they are the fruit of many of today’s seminaries and bible colleges.

What I am about to say is not a criticism of seminaries and bible colleges.

They are what they are.

The situation I am about to describe is what it is.

Nothing more, nothing less.

Let me explain.

Reliable research shows that only 10% of seminaries around the world now have a course on evangelism.

And of the 10% that do, it is likely that the course will be run by a liberal theologian who doesn’t actually do evangelism.

It is likely that “the gospel” being promoted in such courses will be an insipid, limp, watered down, liberal, powerless gospel.

Often the course content will focus on nothing more than the history of evangelism – a history lesson.

Hardly the fuel needed for completing the Great Commission and changing the world.

In all my 15 years as a researcher / writer, I have not been able to identify one seminary or bible college in the world which:

  • has a compulsory, major course for all its students on evangelism.
  • equips it’s students to actually do evangelism
  • requires its lecturers to be active in evangelism
  • has any form of accountability for it students and staff in evangelism
  • honours and lifts up evangelism in the general life of the institution.No-Vision

These are the kinds of features of a seminary evangelism curriculum which are needed if we are going to restore the Great Commission to it’s rightful place as top priority in the life of the Church.

Because this curriculum is missing from most of today’s Bible Colleges and seminaries, they are producing graduates who possess no powerful all consuming vision to evangelise the world i.e. to complete the Great Commission.

Thus, the domino effect kicks in.

That is to say, this ‘non desire/vision/passion’ for evangelism which graduates of bible colleges and seminaries carry with them when they graduate is passed onto everyone in the churches they lead, including any budding evangelists sitting in their congregation.

Evangelists sitting in such congregations, who carry a strong God-given desire to evangelise the world and to mobilise the Church for the same, often become so discouraged that they toss in their God given calling, and move into real estate sales, insurance, or some other endeavour;  or they compromise their calling in the way I have described.

And so the downward spiral of forces working against the completion of the Great Commission gains momentum.

Yes, the  majority of today’s crop of pastors and leaders are unwittingly putting out the fire of evangelists in their midst by demanding that they only teach the people in their churches these “other skills and behaviours.”

So, we have this situation –  the vast majority of today’s pastors and leaders:

  1. don’t carry a personal, deep, passionate vision for the evangelisation of the world
  2. don’t regularly participate in personal evangelism themselves. Many have not led anyone to Christ for a very long time.
  3. don’t want to teach the people in their churches how to evangelise
  4. as such, are unwittingly conditioning evangelists to compromise on their God given job description which is to mobilise the Church to complete the Great Commission.

How tragic is this, given that the evangelisation of the world is THE mission of the Church, and the first concern of Jesus.

Truly, we are now living in the Dark Age of evangelism.

With such a dire situation, what hope is there?

There is one hope –  evangelists with the gift who refuse to compromise on their Biblical job description.

Evangelists must find fresh legs to do personal evangelism themselves, and boldly and unashamedly preach and teach everywhere about the utmost priority of completing the Great Commission until the tide turns.

Do we have precedents to encourage us?  To illustrate the truths about which I am writing here? Yes.

BillyGrahamWhen Billy Graham was at the height of his usefulness to God, evangelism soared to a place of prominence in many bible colleges and seminaries; personal evangelism became “the in thing” in churches; pastors received a fresh vision for evangelism and the completion of the Great Commission.

Finance for the evangelisation of the world flooded in.

Many churches were actually competing to see if they could out give each for the cause of the Great Commission!

World wide, evangelism at every level surged.

In Acts 2, the Holy Spirit used Peter the Apostle in a dramatic way to put evangelism at the top of the Early Church agenda by preaching an evangelistic sermon where 3000 were saved.

This event, which followed hard on the heels of the resurrection and Pentecost, and the Great Commission announcements of Jesus, kicked off the mission of the Early Church to evangelise the world.

The Apostles (i.e the church leaders) were leading the charge.

Just look at Acts 5:41-42 “…the Apostles never stopped going door to door, giving the gospel.”

If it’s happened before, it can happen again.

God has uniquely gifted evangelists to re-envision the Christian Church at every level to complete the Great Commission i.e. to infuse bible colleges, seminaries, and church leaders with a desire to make the evangelisation of the world their top priority.

But first the vast majority of evangelists must themselves be re-envisioned and re-fired.

Evangelists – because for many of us our fires to mobilise the whole Church to evangelise the world have gone out, the fires of the rest of the Church have gone out as well, and these “other skills and behaviours” have, by default, assumed the top spot.

Evangelists, we must find new strength from God, through the Holy Spirit, to overcome the negative attitude to evangelism in the modern Church which has come upon us like a Tsunami from hell.

Truly, this tragic situation is from hell itself.

Why such strong language?

As long as this situation persists, literally 100′s of millions of souls around the world are being lost without hope, dying and going to hell without ever hearing the Christian gospel. God’s whole redemptive plan is breaking down.

Not only this, but Christians are missing out on the personal growth and blessing which comes through participating in evangelism (Mark 8:35 “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it).

Where will we find help? Psalm 121:1-2 says “I lift up my eyes to the hills— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Evangelists out there – we must :

  • carry a God given burden to mobilise the whole Church for evangelism, and not settle to work with the one or two people in every church who show some interest.  That is to say, we must become WHOLE OF CHURCH evangelists.
  • be schooled up on the subject of evangelism, so that, among other things, we can rightly define key terms such as ‘evangelism’, ‘the gospel’,  and ‘the Great Commission’ and key theologies such as ‘the mission’ and ‘the purpose’ of the Church (2 Timothy 2:15). That is to say, we must become EDUCATED evangelists.
  • start doing personal evangelism regularly ourselves.  It is a strange paradox that the desire to do evangelism comes from doing evangelism. When we “do” personal evangelism, we receive from the Holy Spirit the fire, the power, and the getting biblical about evangelismauthority to inspire others.  We can’t ask others to go where we have not gone first ourselves. Sad to say, many many people who preach and teach about the importance of evangelism don’t actually do evangelism. That is to say, we must become “LEAD BY EXAMPLE” evangelists.
  • be people of prayer. We won’t turn this tide on the situation I have described in this blog without God’s help. That is to say, we must become PRAYING evangelists.
  • be people of the Bible.  We must study this book, book by book, Old Testament and New, until we get a handle on it in its entirety. Only by doing this will we most clearly see and feel the heart of God to redeem the world. That is to say, we must become LOVERS OF THE BIBLE evangelists.
  • boldly and unashamedly write about, speak about, blog about, gossip about, preach about the absolute priority of completing the Great Commission. For too long, evangelists have, under the guise of not wanting to be viewed as bucking authority, or being divisive, or rocking the boat, kept silent about the issues I have raised in this blog.  We’ve been afraid to speak up for fear that pastors will close their doors to us.  Yes, we’ve compromised, and compromise never pays a good return.  So, we must become BRAVE AND COURAGEOUS, PUBLICISING evangelists.
  • absolutely refuse to deviate from our God-given job description.  That is to say, we must become UNCOMPROMISING evangelists.
  • be morally and ethically pure. That is to say, we must become HOLY evangelists.
  • arrive at churches we are invited to with proven strategies and tools which will help pastors not only mobilise all their people for evangelism, but sustain them in it.  That is to say, we must become RESOURCEFUL AND SERVANT HEARTED evangelists who are solution orientated. As such, we’ll be able to truly help pastors.

These are the bullet points of our job description from God.

Take any one of these bullet points out, and our usefulness to God as evangelists will be weakened.

Evangelists, hear me in this – because we have compromised on some or all of these bullet points, Church leaders have compromised on their commitment to the absolute priority of the Great Commission, and the Dark Age of evangelism has come upon us.

It will only be when we evangelists return to this job description with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength that our FIRE and PASSION will return, and today’s pastors and leader’s will catch the fire.

When this happens, the Great Commission will experience a resurgence and churches will experience GENUINE explosive growth again (not simply transfer growth), just like the Early Church.

Finally, a word about Alpha, seeing so many churches are using this great initiative.alpha logo 2

Programs like Alpha have a vital part to play in the overall mix, and we want to retain them.

However, with Alpha, participants watch Nicky Gumbel do the evangelism, while they look on.

The biblical mandate is to mobilise everyone in a local Church to personally and regularly participate in evangelism, not watch someone else do it.

Action point:

Please forward this blog onto your pastor and every person in your church who has any kind of leadership position.

You leadership will not be aware of what is happening until they are made aware.

The key to change is awareness.

 

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