What If We Stop Doing Evangelism?
The question is a sobering one to think about. Often when we hear the word “evangelism”, fear takes over and we get nervous that someone might ask us to do something that we feel we can’t.
Church, your faces tell the story on Sunday morning when we talk about sharing the Gospel with our friends and family! There is a visible reaction when I mention the words “evangelism” and “sharing the gospel”. The reaction is a mixture of fear and disconnect. It may not be intentional but it happens. Fear and discomfort set in and we don’t know what to do about it.
We recently read an article at our staff meeting that posed the question, “What will happen if the church continues to ignore evangelism?” Using the warning given to the church of Ephesus in Revelation 2, the author warned that if the church does not repent for its lack of evangelism and return to the things that the church should do, then we were in danger of losing our effectiveness and possibly even our existence as a church.
As I read the article, things got quiet in the room. All eyes were hanging pretty low because I know that they felt, as I do, that evangelism is tough and at times it’s not the priority it should be. As I continued to read, Jesus’s words from Matthew 5:13-15 were explained. Listen to these words from Scripture:
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?
It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp
and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house."
Even if our evangelistic pulse is faint, God’s Word is clear about our response - We are called to be salt. We are called to be light. And if we don’t, then God’s Word says that we will be ineffective and “no longer good for anything but to be thrown under people’s feet”
Pretty powerful words, right?
God does not want us to be ineffective – that is not what He wants for you and I. Rather, He wants us to repent (if we have reason to repent) and make sharing the Gospel with our friends, co-workers, and family a priority.
As I finished reading the article, I immediately went into a chapter in “How to Grow” where author Darryl Dash gives an introductory understanding of what the Gospel is. As the words leapt off the page, Darryl pointed us to God’s holiness, God’s love, God’s grace, God’s mercy, and God’s mission. It was refreshing because it reminded us together of just how good that Good News is. We ended with a time of reflective prayer, thanking God for the Gospel and the privilege we have of sharing it.
Don’t worry Church, I’m still working this out in my own life but my desire is to grow in missional effectiveness while God gives me time. Who’s with me, by God’s grace?
You are dearly loved,
Note: Evangelism is a muscle and every muscle needs exercise. Join us for March’s EQUIP as we dive into evangelism and get some tools to help us share this amazing news we have been given. EQUIP is on Monday March 9th.
Confession: I spend a lot of my free time watching ridiculous videos. Cat videos – I love ‘em. I could watch them for hours. Wedding fails – some of my favourites. A couple of nights ago, Mike, Elliot and I were watching America’s Funniest Videos and one of the videos was of a couple midway through reciting their wedding vows. The couple was looking lovingly into each other’s eyes, while the pastor prompted:
Pastor: for better for worse
Bride: for better for worse
Pastor: for richer for poorer
Bride: for richer for poorer
Pastor: in sickness and in health;
Bride: in sickness and in health;
Pastor: to love, cherish,
Bride: to love, cherish,
Pastor: and to obey.
Bride: and to- …
Pastor: and to obey…
Bride: … *crickets chirping in the background* …
“Obey.” So much weight attached to such a small word. Nobody likes having to be obedient to someone else. We like to be able to do what we want, when we want to.
This morning, I was reading an article about how we come into God’s presence in worship. Often times it can be difficult to come to church on a Sunday morning and be excited about giving God our praise. Sometimes it can feel like a chore or an obligation – one we’d rather avoid. But in the midst of the reluctance we sometimes feel, the writer of the article said these words,
“Obedience often precedes joy.”
Read that one more time.
“Obedience often precedes joy.”
“Well, yes, Jolene, that sounds super Bible-y, but what does that mean?” you might ask. Or, at least that’s what I asked myself. The words resonated with me, but what does that mean for me practically?
For me, it means I enter into worship with what I know to be true, instead of just what I feel to be true. It means I recognize God’s attributes – his love, his mercy, his grace - even when I find it difficult to see them working in my life. It means I follow God’s command to bring Him my worship, because He is worthy.
Revelation 4:11 says “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”
Our God is worthy of our worship, and I truly believe that as we lift up his name, as we bring him our praise (even when we don’t feel like it) in obedience to Him, He will fill us with joy! Joy in His strength, joy in His compassion, and joy in the salvation we have through his Son, Jesus Christ.
I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.
Jolene Sanders, Worship Director
When I first became a believer I was fascinated by God and His Word. The Bible was alive and working in me as I learned how to follow God in thought and deed. I was captivated by God.
The beauty of the gospel. The power of the Saviour. The care of the father. It was amazing how God worked in my life and drew me into daily of worship of Him.
As time passes, one of the dangers of following after God is that we can lose our awe and wonder for who God is, and fall victim to being caught up in church instead of being captivated by Christ. Here are some of the ways that it manifests itself:
Caught up in rhythm
One danger is to become caught up in the rhythms of God rather than captivated by the glory of God. You have to admit that there is a certain rhythm to church life. Sunday service is 10:00 am. Lifegroups are 6:30 pm. We have a Monday Morning Minute on Facebook, a weekly email blast, a monthly bulletin and Equip sessions, yearly summer camp… you get it. Even our spiritual life can get into a rhythm. Morning devotional with a little journalling, recite a little grace before each meal, say a few evening prayers before we turn in for the night. Before we know it these rhythms have rocked us to sleep like a spiritual lullaby.
When we turn to God's Word, we read about the church of Sardis in Revelation 3 whose works show that they are alive, but God tells them they are dead. He urges them to awaken, regain their strength, and continue with the work of the Lord. They need to reengage their minds and to put into practice what they have heard and received.
Caught up in belonging
Belonging is important, but some of us fall into the trap of being caught up in belonging to church instead of being captivated by Christ.
Remember the theme song of the 80s show Cheers? “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name and they're always glad you came!” Like Norm of old, we come to church thirsty for a place to call home, and to find friendships with other believers, but in the process we lose sight of what belonging really means.
Check out Ephesians 2:13: “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” What this means is that we belong because we have been brought in. The blood of Christ has made us acceptable in the sight of God, and through His sacrifice we become daughters and sons of the Most High God.
At Calvary we love the fact that we make connections with great people through our worship services and events, but our primary goal of belonging should be to foster relationships where we are helping those around us take a step to the right, or where we are being transformed by someone helping us take a step to the right. These spiritual friendships will keep us captivated by Christ by reminding us about being connected to the family of God.
Caught up in serving
Okay, confession time. I have always loved serving in the church. I love feeling useful, helpful, and being with others who are like-minded. Working together on a team to accomplish a goal is a lot of fun, and I really like learning new things. But there was a time when serving became more significant than my walk with Christ. When I served, i went to church. And when I had a “sit and soak Sunday” (aka, no serving!), I stayed home. After all, what was the point of going to church if I didn’t have to? Call it self-care, call it taking a Sabbath rest, or call it what it was… kinda dumb. As if God was only important if I was working in the nursery that day.
John 3:30-31 says, “He must increase, but I must decrease. He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all.” Here, John is actually talking about himself — he was writing about how his purpose was to point others to the glory of God, and not to take any of God’s glory for himself. He is simply a signpost to the goodness of God. These verses remind me that serving God is not a substitute for worshipping God, and to not be so caught up in serving God that I forget to be captivated by the person and presence of God.
Allow the Word of God to transform you as you study it, so that you can, as they say, "Keep the main thing the thing." Be in the presence of the Lord and revel in the beauty of the gospel message. Allow yourself, with fresh eyes, to be captivated by Christ and worship Him today.
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