The Pastor’s Role in World Evangelization


John Piper:

What then should a pastor do to promote a passion among his people to see God glorified by the in-gathering of his sheep from the thousands of unreached people groups around the world?

My answer: above everything else, be the kind of person and the kind of preacher whose theme and passion is the majesty of God. . . .

The most important thing I think pastors can do to arouse and sustain a passion for world evangelization is week in and week out to help their people see the crags and peaks and icy cliffs and snowcapped heights of God’s majestic character. And let me sharpen the point in two ways:

1. We should labor in our preaching to clear the mists and fog away from the sharp contours of the character of God. We should let him be seen in his majesty and sovereignty.

I know of one denominational official who, when asked how to preach on texts that seem strong on predestination or election or the sovereignty of grace, said something like, “O, I think you can preach on those texts without letting people know what you think. It’s possible to be sufficiently imprecise so that you don’t upset people.”

That attitude toward doctrine and preaching is the source of widespread weakness and shallowness in our churches. It is a tragedy when we believe that we are serving the cause of God by surrounding the peaks of his glory with a fog of ambiguity. If our people are ever going to have a global faith and a global vision we are going to have to stop hiding from them the biblical proportions of the majesty of God.

2. The majestic character of God needs to be seen week in and week out not in the context of casualness and triviality and Sunday morning slapstick, but in the context of exaltation and awe and solemnity and earnestness and intensity.

How will our people ever come to feel in their bones the awful magnitude of what is at stake in the eternal destiny of the unevangelized, if our homiletical maxim is to start with a joke and keep the people entertained with anecdotes along the way. How will the people ever come to know and feel the crags and peaks and snowcapped heights of God’s glory if our preaching and worship services are more like picnics in the valley than thunder on the ice face of Mt. Everest?

That’s the most important thing as I see it for arousing and sustaining a passion for the glory of God in world evangelization — week in and week out to help them see the majesty of the glory of God.

Excerpted from “A Pastor’s Role in World Missions” (1984).

Peter serves as a pastor-teacher, at home and abroad, resourcing gospel-centred communities.

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