Category Archives for Evangelism

Evangelism In The Beginning

December 1, 2015

Randy Adams | Executive Director
Northwest Baptist Convention

**This article was previously posted by Randy Adams on his website randyadams.org and is used by permission. 

You don’t expect a man the size of a bear, with a low, rumbling growl to match, to look you straight in the eye and say, “George, I love you, and I want you to know my Jesus,” but that’s what he does every day. It won’t surprise you to know that he frequently leads people to love the Jesus he knows so well.

I thought of this friend when reading Michael Green’s classic work, Evangelism in the Early Church. Widely regarded as the best book on the subject, I thought it helpful to highlight some of his conclusions for those who desire to lead others to the feet of Jesus.

Green’s primary conclusion is that neither the strategy nor the tactics of the first Christians were particularly remarkable. “What was remarkable was their conviction, their passion and their determination to act as Christ’s embassy to a rebel world, whatever the consequences.” It was the personal transformation of their character, as they welcomed the Holy Spirit into their lives, which was most stunning. This is what made me think of my friend – personal passion, born of the Spirit of God and infused with deep gratitude to Jesus, overflowing into personal witness.

Passionate conviction and personal witness characterized those who founded the Christian movement.   Still, Green notes five approaches which the Early Church adopted and from which we could profit. First, most of their evangelism took place on what we would call “secular ground.” You find them in the laundries, street corners and markets. Evangelism did not happen in church buildings, of which they had none. In my own experience I have seen and done this, particularly in places where there are no church buildings. I would also note that in the places where Christianity is growing most rapidly, they have few church buildings. It makes me wonder if the presence of many steeples has led us to rely upon the building as the place of evangelism. The pattern of the early church, and even the contemporary church in areas where the Church is growing, suggests that we must evangelize on “secular ground.”

Second, Green notes that “the priority of early Christians seems to have been personal conversations with individuals.” You see this in the way Jesus evangelized. Read John’s Gospel , for example, and the stories that strike you most are Jesus’ personal conversations with Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman, the lame man at the pool, the adulterous woman, the man born blind, Lazarus, not to mention Jesus’ conversations with the Twelve. Some of the earliest Christian writings, following the New Testament era, recount personal one-on-one witnessing experiences. If your church wants to reach people for Christ, you must consistently train members in the skills of talking to others about Jesus. The MY316 evangelism resources provided by the Northwest Baptist Convention helps believers know how to share Jesus using their own personal testimonies and John 3:16. In March of 2016 we will have one-day “Story Witnessing Workshops” throughout the Northwest which will focus on helping Christians to listen well and connect Bible stories to people’s lives.

Third, Green says that “the home provided the most natural context for gossiping the gospel.”   This is clear from the Book of Acts, and is also prevalent in Second Century Christian literature.   In many regions of the world we continue to see believers meeting in homes and practicing household hospitality as a means to share Jesus. But we do not see this much in America any more. It seems that we view our homes as a private retreat more than a place for entertaining strangers and sharing Christ with neighbors. I would encourage you reach out to internationals and immigrants. Most immigrants are never invited into the home of an American. And most Americans never invite someone from another country, culture and ethnic group into their home. The Northwest has many immigrant peoples. I have found immigrants are most honored when we invite them into our homes.

A fourth method of the Early Church was church planting. Indeed, we can say that the Church grew as new churches were planted. Green says that church planting was “the most effective” method of evangelism. What we know is that in every place where Christianity is growing, the number of churches is growing. This has always been true. Is your church involved in planting other churches? It can be.

Finally, Green notes the emphasis those first Christians put on the work of the Holy Spirit.   They understood that the Holy Spirit worked within them to produce the character of Jesus. Green says, “The Western Church has grown too dependent on words, and not nearly dependent enough on the power of the Holy Spirit,”

There has been no significant change when it comes to effective evangelism. It’s always been about sharing Christ personally, where people live and work, and doing so in the power of the Spirit. We just need more of it.

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God’s Glory Or the Gospel?

November 13, 2015

by Dr. Adam Harwood

** This article was originally posted by Dr. Adam Harwood on his website www.adamharwood.com and is used by permission.

Dr. Adam Harwood is: Associate Professor of Theology (occupying the McFarland Chair of Theology), Director of the Baptist Center for Theology & Ministry, and Editor of the Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary 

Learn more about Dr. Harwood HERE
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Recently, I attended a missionary-appointment service. I was encouraged to see young people sent out by churches with the goal of getting the gospel to unreached people. These new missionaries are leaving jobs, churches, and family to invest their lives in another culture so that people can hear about Jesus. I rejoice for these workers God has raised up for the harvest (Matt 9:38).

However, I am concerned about the language used during the event about being sent “to declare God’s glory.” This was the theme of the event, and it was repeated in the printed literature, testimonies, and the sermon. The phrase was lifted from Psalm 96:3, which states: “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!” (ESV).

The Bible Knowledge Commentary summarizes the message of Psalm 96 in this sentence: “In this psalm about the reign of the Lord, the psalmist called on people everywhere and all the elements of nature to praise God because He is greater than all pagan gods and because He will reign in righteousness and truth.”

To declare God’s glory is to talk about His greatness. God is great, and He is more than worthy of all praise and glory. The Scriptures mention God’s glory (here and elsewhere) as well as the command for believers to glorify God in their body (1 Corinthians 6:20). I affirm the call for people to declare God’s glory. However, the aim of Christian missions should be clear. Christian missionaries should declare the gospel; to only declare God’s glory would be an inadequate message because only the message of the cross is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 1:18).

Which message has the power to save, the message of the cross or the message that God is glorious? Consider some of Paul’s comments on the matter:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18)

People are saved when they respond in repentance and faith to the message of the cross, or the gospel–not when they hear that God is glorious.

An objection might be raised that I am creating a false dilemma. Scripture mentions declaring both God’s glory (Psalm 96:3) and the message of the cross (Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 1:18).

In reply to that objection: True. But only believers can call to God and glorify Him, as described in Psalm 96. Also, no biblical text states that people are saved because God’s glory is declared. In contrast, the Bible identifies clearly the message which sinners must hear in order to be saved: the message of the gospel.

It is understandable, though not excusable, that some believers might confuse the concept of God’s glory with the gospel. But it is mystifying that a Christian mission organization would send out its missionaries with instructions to declare something other than the gospel.

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