Another area of major concern within the evangelical church today is the ineffectiveness of much evangelistic effort – when it is undertaken at all.
I think one key element in this ineffectiveness is the mindset evangelicals have established that concludes that the unbeliever needs an entirely different message from the believer. When there is a recognition that, in fact, we both need to hear the same message, an important change takes place both in the attitude of the Christian and in the atmosphere of the church. Instead of thinking we need to preach the gospel to them, the environment becomes one of mutual seeking to know the gospel, and the recognition that we are at different stages of understanding. Furthermore, the proclamation of the gospel means more than evangelistic appeals.
Pastors and teachers who understand grace personally, and know how to distinguish Law and Gospel in their proclamation, will teach the gospel from anywhere in Scripture.
For all of the cultural changes we are experiencing, I still believe the church is a place where conversions can take place. But this requires that we have a setting in which all who come, come to hear and believe the gospel. This is happening today, and there are wonderful examples of churches where there are numerous conversions both in the services of the church and through the joyful overflow of the gospel in the daily lives of members.
This is Part 5 of a 5-part series titled Gospel Discipling. This series is taken from an essay by Stephen Smallman, author of Spiritual Birthline and past Executive Director of World Harvest Mission. Some of the content has been edited.
Thanks also to New City Fellowship of St. Louis, who posted Smallman’s essay on their web page.
To read Parts 1-4 click: Introduction; Romans as Model; Gospel & Adoption; Gospel & Renewal