The Lord’s followers who had
been scattered went from place to place,
telling the good news. —Acts 8:4 CEV
Christ’s church has a divine mandate to evangelize—to go about spreading the Good News. Following our Lord’s original charge to His followers, we are to carry the gospel throughout the whole world. This is a key purpose for which we have been brought from death to life. God wants us to tell others who are languishing in sin the Good News.
He wants to whole world to know that the Righteous One died for the unrighteous to bring sinners into a relationship with God. This is why Jesus instructed His followers “…go everywhere and announce the Message of God’s good news to one and all” (Mark 16:15, MSG). Sharing this news keeps our faith alive and vibrant (cf. Philemon 6). Neglecting to do so produces individual believers and congregations that are like hollow halls in which only echoes of bygone days can be heard. Either we evangelize or we fossilize!
How are we doing?
Word from the researchers gives us reason to be concerned. One indicates that roughly 5 percent of churches of Christ in America over 25 years old are growing through evangelism. Another suggests that membership figures paint an alarming picture. One half of our congregations have fewer than 50 members. Only 11 percent have more than 200 members. Furthermore, it is estimated that fewer than 5 percent of the members of the church of Christ have led a searching soul to a saving relationship with Christ.
Why are we stagnating so?
Well, I do not presume to have the complete answer. Two observations do come to mind, though.
First, it seems that we have not placed the proper emphasis on evangelism. Even though it seems to be the attitude of some, evangelism is not an option. It is not even a program of work to be added to the ministry line-up. It isn’t everything, but evangelism should be a part of everything. Every ministry should be reflect a desire to reach the reachable and teach the teachable!
Second, it seems obvious that many members of the body of Christ are ill-equipped for evangelism. A carpenter without tools cannot do much building. Likewise, a Christian whose feet are not shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace cannot do much soul-winning. We need to take our mission seriously. We also need to take full advantage of every opportunity to become better equipped for the task at hand.
What, then, must we do?
—We must come to the realization that we are to be fishers of men, not keepers of an aquarium!
—We must realize the urgency of our mission. We have been entrusted with a message that the world desperately needs to hear.
—We, who are God’s messengers to the world, need to muster the courage to speak of our Savior and His saving grace.
—We must share the Good News so that lost souls might turn from darkness to the light, from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive remission of sins and an inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith in Christ.
—We must evangelize (or fossilize)!
© Bill Williams
September 29, 2007