The Burden for Missions Begins at Home

Mark Dever: A mark of a healthy church is a biblical understanding of, and practice of, missions. Missions isn’t a biblical word, but it’s a biblical idea. Missions is taking the gospel across boundaries, especially across the boundary of language. And, according to the Bible, this mission is to transform the nature of humanity, and nothing less—to bring us into a reconciled relationship with God, our good Creator and Judge. Missions Begins at Home Self-sacrifice and love of God and others is the seed of missions in the church. You could say that missions begins at home with a concern for the conversion of your family. So teach, befriend, evangelize and disciple your children. Brothers and sisters, have a concern for your friends. Friends share the gospel with friends. “Don’t underestimate how you handicap missions in a church by making evangelism seem optional in the Christian life.” But what does it mean for you to be prepared to share the gospel

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How Do We Work for Justice and Not Undermine Evangelism?

D.A. Carson: (1) By doing evangelism. I know numerous groups that claim to be engaging in “holistic” ministry because they are helping the poor in Chicago or because they are digging wells in the Sahel, even though few if any of the workers have taken the time to explain to anyone who Jesus is and what he has done to reconcile us to God. Their ministry isn’t holistic; it’s halfistic, or quarteristic. (2) By being careful not to malign believers of an earlier generation. The popular buzz is that evangelicals before this generation focused all their energies on proclamation and little or nothing on deeds of mercy. Doubtless one can find sad examples of such reductionism, but the sweeping condescension toward our evangelical forbears is neither true nor kind. To take but one example: The mission SIM has emphasized evangelism, church planting, and building indigenous churches for a century—yet without talking volubly of holistic ministry it built, and still operates,

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Evangelism Starts With God

David Qaoud: One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in evangelism is telling people the good news without telling them the bad news. No wonder I’m met with blank stares or “That’s nice for you, but not for me.” When we don’t tell unbelievers about sin and wrath, they often think grace is irrelevant. They don’t see their need for a Savior. I know I’m not alone. Myself, I suspect I don’t like sharing the bad news because of fear of man. I don’t want to offend people or bring up words like hell and wrath and sin because then the conversation may get weird. I don’t like awkward moments. I want to seem cool. I want to win people to Christ simply by telling people only about Christ and avoiding all the difficult parts. DEFINING EVANGELISM But true evangelism requires more. As it’s been said, evangelism is sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with an unbeliever with the aim

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Keeping the Evangel in Evangelism: Why Evangelicalism Can’t Abandon the Old, Old Story

Al Mohler: The Great Commission stands at the center of Christianity as the command of the risen Lord Jesus Christ for his church to proclaim the name of God in the world for the sake of all nations and God’s glory among them. The church fulfills the commission by making disciples of Christ, teaching them to observe all that Christ has commanded his church to believe and obey (Matt 28:18-20). Evangelism that calls sinners to repentance and spreads the fame of God’s name, then, is at the very heart of the mission of God’s people. EVANGELISM IN A POST-CHRISTIAN WORLD Every culture and civilization embraces a certain set of assumptions about life, truth, significance, and what it means to be human. Without these shared assumptions, societal life would be impossible. Individuals within these societies may not give much active thought to these common assumptions, but their decisions, expectations, and general dispositions reflect the presence of these assumptions as what some philosophers call

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What’s the Purpose of the Church?

Tim Challies: Whatever else we may know about Christians, we know this: Christians are supposed to go to church. Every Sunday, Christians gather together to worship God and spend time in fellowship. But do we actually know why we do this? Do we pause to consider the purpose of the local church? In this series of articles we are considering the purpose of many things we may take for granted, and so far we have looked at marriage, sex, and children. Today we are broadening our perspective from family to the church. It is important to note that our concern here is not the universal church, which is comprised of all Christians of all times and places. Rather, we are answering the question: What is the purpose of the local church? In other words, why do we as Christians gather together in local congregations? Common Views of The Church As we consider why we gather week by week, we can

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Call yourself a Christian? Start talking about Jesus Christ

Ed Stetzer: “Preach the gospel at all times; if necessary, use words,” Saint Francis of Assisi is supposed to have said. The aphorism, often quoted, expresses a well-meaning viewpoint of many Christians today. They are concerned that we’ve been too loud, demanding and angry. Now, they say, we need to show the gospel by our lives. It’s a good sentiment, and I certainly agree that we need to demonstrate the gospel change in our lives by caring for others. But there are two problems with the Assisi quote. First, he never said it. Second, it’s really bad theology. You see, using that statement is a bit like saying, “Feed the hungry at all times; if necessary, use food.” For Christians, the gospel is good news — it’s what the word literally means. For evangelicals, our name speaks of the commitment to evangelism that defines us. The good news needs to be told. Yet, Christians, evangelicals included, seem to love evangelism, as

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Faithful Evangelism Begins with Clear Sight

Erik Raymond: It is one of the most staggering and gripping narratives in the Bible. The prophet Isaiah is allowed to see a vision of God’s holiness that leads him to pronounce judgement upon himself and then concludes with him going to tell other people about this unfathomably holy God and their substantial lack of holiness. What is particularly instructive is the connection between his cleansing and his commissioning. When he realized what he had been cleansed from then he was more apt to embrace who he was cleansed for. Let’s be honest, one of the reasons why we sputter in evangelism is a truncated view of God’s holiness. Isaiah saw this and he was focused on his mission. Cleansing The need for cleansing comes from the awareness of sin. In other words, seeing a lack of holiness next to God’s ineffable holiness leads one to a gratitude for being cleansed. Isaiah tells us that this vision came in the year

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A Calvinist Evangelist?

By Keith Mathison: If I have heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times: “A Calvinist evangelist? Isn’t that an oxymoron? Calvinism undermines evangelism.” This accusation has been repeated so many times that few make the effort to argue it. Instead, it is simply assumed. Never mind that some of the church’s greatest evangelists have been Calvinists. One need only be reminded of men such as George Whitefield, David Brainerd, or “the father of modern missions,” William Carey. “Yes,” we are told, “these men were great evangelists and Calvinists, but that is because they were inconsistent.” But is this true? The fact of the matter is that Calvinism is not inconsistent with evangelism; it is only inconsistent with certain evangelistic methods. It is inconsistent, for example, with the emotionally manipulative methods created by revivalists such as Charles Finney. But these manipulative methods are themselves inconsistent with Scripture, so it is no fault to reject them. In order for evangelism to

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10 Things You Should Know About Evangelism

Mack Stiles: 1. Our evangelistic efforts must stem from a biblical understanding of evangelism. There are so many ways to go wrong in evangelism—impulses of fear on the one side, vain ambition on the other—that if we do not nail down a truly biblical understanding, we will quickly veer off course. So we start by understanding that biblical evangelism is teaching the gospel with the aim to persuade. 2. Evangelism is often the label given to things that are not evangelism. Is sharing your testimony evangelism? Is defending the Christian faith evangelism? How about doing good deeds for the oppressed? Certainly those are good things that serve and support evangelism. But they are not evangelism itself. We must not confuse the gospel with the fruit of the gospel. 3. Evangelism entails teaching the gospel first and foremost. God teaches us the gospel through his Word; we can’t just  “figure it out” on our own. So it stands to reason that we

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The Danger of “Assuming” Evangelism

  Trevin Wax: “Don’t assume the gospel!” has become a rallying cry for gospel-centered pastors and leaders. D. A. Carson has warned against this slow but sad progression: From a generation that believes the gospel and all its implications… To a generation that assumes the gospel but identifies more with its implications… To a generation that loses the gospel altogether. “Make the gospel explicit!” we say, in an effort to ensure that the good news of Jesus – the only news that has the power to transform lives – stays front and center in our message, our methods, and our ministries. But what happens when it’s not the evangel that gets assumed, but evangelism?  Is it possible that a generation deeply committed to making the gospel present and explicit in the church’s preaching and teaching, might assume that Christians know how to share the gospel? Or that Christians understand just how vital evangelism is? I wonder about “assuming evangelism” because of some of the books I’ve read recently, books

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Election and the Gospel

  Let no one say that the doctrine of election by the sovereign will and mercy of God, mysterious as it is, makes either evangelism or faith unnecessary. The opposite is the case. It is only because of God’s gracious will to save that evangelism has any hope of success and faith becomes possible. The preaching of the gospel is the very means that God has appointed by which he delivers from blindness and bondage those whom he chose in Christ before the foundation of the world, sets them free to believe in Jesus, and so causes his will to be done. — John Stott The Message of Ephesians (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1979), 48 (HT: Of First Importance)

A thinly spread gospel

  “In the twentieth century the church has tried to see how little it could say and still get converts. The assumption has been that a minimal message will conserve our forces, spread the Gospel farther, and, of course, preserve a unity among evangelicals. It has succeeded in spreading the truth so thinly that the world cannot see it. Four facts droned over and over have bored sinners around us and weakened the church as well.” Walter J. Chantry, Today’s Gospel: Authentic or Synthetic? (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1970), p. 45-46. (HT:Thabiti Anyabwile)

It’s Not About the Results

From Aaron Armstrong’s review of Mack Stiles’ Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus: If there’s one thing Stiles wants you to understand, it’s this: evangelism is not about programs or events. It’s not a technique or a specific kind of response. Many of our problems creating a healthy culture of evangelism stem from a lack of a biblical foundation. We count declarations of faith, hands raised, cards put in a bag, people walking down aisles—but do these things really mean anything? Maybe, but maybe not. Regardless, if we’re going to see a culture of evangelism take root, “we must be very careful to conform our evangelistic practices to the Bible, because this honors God” (24). So, Stiles, general secretary for the Fellowship of Christian UAE Students in the United Arab Emirates and author of several evangelism books, begins by defining his terms—specifically, what evangelism means. “Evangelism is teaching the gospel with the aim to persuade,” he explains. “This

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I long for a church where…

Mack Stiles: I long for a church that understands that it—the local church—is the chosen and best method of evangelism. I long for a church where the Christians are so in love with Jesus that when they go about the regular time of worship, they become an image of the gospel. I long for a church that disarms with love, not entertainment, and lives out countercultural confidence in the power of the gospel. I long for a church where the greatest celebrations happen over those who share their faith, and the heroes are those who risk their reputations to evangelize. I yearn for a culture of evangelism with brothers and sisters whose backs are up to mine in the battle, where I’m taught and I teach about what it means to share our faith; and where I see leaders in the church leading people to Jesus. I want a church where you can point to changed lives, where you can

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Missions, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God

Kevin DeYoung: So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it (Isaiah 55:11). We do not know when God’s purposes will be accomplished. We do not always know whether the divine plan is to harden the heart or to soften it. We do not know the outcome of our work. But we should know that our work in the word is never in vain. No sermon from the word, no bible study, no time of prayer in the word with your children, no memorizing of scripture, none of it is wasted. If there is time spent in the word, God promises it is working. Working something. The same sun which melts the snow hardens the clay. Why should missionaries continue to labor in the hardest parts of the world with limited success,

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5 Things to Remember When It Comes to Church Size

Chad Hall: I have had the privilege to serve as a coach to pastors for over 15 years, and I’ve noticed that it does not take long in the coaching relationship for the topic of church size to come up. I’ve also noticed that some pastors approach church growth with health and wholeness while others struggle with (and because of) church size.  If you are a pastor, church planter, or key leader, you need a healthy and theologically sound attitude for dealing with church growth, size, and numbers.  To help you develop such an attitude, here are five things to recognize when it comes to church size. Growth is not the only good.  Some church leaders lack a biblical imagination that would allow them to envision a purpose for their church other than growth.  Making growth (or big) synonymous with good is a recipe for disaster because it prevents good from being a higher value than growth.  Granted, big and good are not opposites, but

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Should All Believers Take Part in Evangelism?

Simply by being a member of the church of Jesus Christ each Christian has a responsibility to be involved in the missionary call of the whole church. We should all be praying, all giving, all sending. There are two particular passages in which the apostles call all believers to be involved in the work of evangelism. First a passage from Paul (Colossians 4:5-6), and then one from Peter (1 Peter 3:15-16). The words of the Lord through His apostles are clear. Evangelism is not simply the task of church leaders, pastors, and evangelists who are specially called and gifted. (Though the New Testament does recognize the particular responsibility of leaders and pastors in this task and teaches us that God does indeed gift some for this work with special abilities; see, for example,Ephesians 4:7-12 and 2 Timothy 4:1-5.) But it is not only the teachers and evangelists who have this task set before them; rather, every believer is called to

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6 Ways Small Churches Can Love Their Communities

Daniel Darling: What if you are the pastor of a small church but would like to do something to serve your community? What if you love the idea of adopting a school, but barely have enough resources to cover your nursery on Sunday? Is it possible to do acts of mercy in your local Jerusalem with a tiny band of volunteers? Surprisingly, it is. Here are six tips for small church outreach: 1. Relieve yourself of false guilt. If there is one thing that plagues small church pastors in a big metro area, it’s the constant guilt about what your church is “not doing.” Mostly this guilt comes as a result of comparing yourself to the other churches in town. Instead, begin to look at the entire body of Christ in your community rather than your own specific congregation. You are just one of many God is using in that region to bring about His glory. When I finally realized that

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