Evangelism By All Means

Lambert Dolphin

A few weeks ago one of the founding elders of my church was visiting here from his present home on the East Coast. His main topic over lunch was the low status of evangelism in the San Francisco Bay Area. I was startled when he told me that only 1% of the Bay Area's 9 million people attend church these days. The situation is slightly better in Silicon Valley--the South Bay Area where I live. San Jose (pop. 800,000) currently enjoys a whopping 5% church attendance.

San Francisco had strong churches a hundred years ago, but not now. All the mainline churches in the City have long since abandoned any semblance of Biblical Christianity. Street Christians and very small neighborhood churches are all that remain. The bigger churches with vestiges of real life in them are in the suburbs. Among the surviving (but weak) evangelical churches, "seeker-oriented" churches have enjoyed some modest successes in the Bay Area bedroom communities and in Silicon Valley, and they do win people to the Lord, especially Generation Xe-rs. But looking at the broad picture, evangelism in the San Francisco Bay Area is negligible--and it has been like this for many decades now.

Right after World War II population and economic growth in this part of California began to soar, and the ethnic mix began to change as well. A college student friend of mine now attending one of our Silicon Valley community colleges proposed starting a "European Heritage Club" on campus since he found himself a white minority student in most of his classes. Twenty years ago this same campus was "all-white" with a handful of "foreign students" here and there.

I often label our Bay Area churches "Christian Country Clubs" because we live in prosperous, affluent times. But there is very little interest in our neighbors and downright apathy towards all forms of evangelism. To describe many of our churches as "lukewarm" is an understatement, at least in my opinion. (See: "The Church at the End of the Age, and What to do About it," http://ldolphin.org/church.html).

From the New Testament it is clear that God is not in the business of reforming society. Aid to the poor, better educational programs, better government and social welfare are not major items on the Lord's agenda. Lobbying, for better laws, or politicking "against sin," are never the kind of items God has up top on His priority list. We believers are here on earth--rather than in heaven now--in order to be vigorously involved in the evangelization of the world and after that, secondly, to work together for in the up-building of the true church, the Body of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-16)

Commenting on God's intentions for the work of His church Ray Stedman wrote,

The four support ministries [apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor-teacher] exist for the equipment of the saints unto the work of the ministry (that is, contact with the world) and unto the building up of the body of Christ (that is, maintaining the health of the church). Who is to do these two things? The saints, the people! That is God's intention. It is not the job of the pastors. Their work is something different. They are to train and equip, undergird and motivate the people to do this work. It is the people who are to do the work of the church. Anything less than this is a terrible distortion of what God intended the church to be like.

When this distorted idea crept into the church, it resulted in a terrible situation. The ministry was left to the professionals and the people came to church, not to learn what to do, but to listen, that is all. The pastor has to minister to them, talk to them, encourage them, and try to keep them spiritually healthy, and, at the same time, do all the work of contacting the world: There soon came into being a very destructive idea that the job of the people was to bring the world into the building to hear the gospel and the pastor's job was to preach it to them. Nothing has been more destructive of the life of the body of Christ than that concept. Soon Christianity became a spectator sport, very much akin to the definition I recently heard of football -- eleven men down on the field, desperately in need of rest, and forty thousand people up in the grandstand desperately in need of exercise!

No wonder this awful burden (which pastors are largely responsible for in assuming) has exerted a terrible, unbearable pressure upon the pastors, the clergy. They have not been equal to this task and they were never intended to be. Any one pastor who honestly attempted it found himself involved in endless, frustrating, demands so that he cracked under it. That is one of the reasons why there have been so many emotional failures in the ministry.

We need badly to return to the simple principles of the life designed for the body of Christ. The result of its distortion has been a sadly impoverished body which has done little as far as the world is concerned, and has been largely an isolated section of life with a strong religious odor to it that has turned people away. The world holds the church in contempt because it is not doing anything relevant and meaningful in human society. Our need, therefore, is to return to the original pattern. (http://raystedman.org/ephesians/0111.html)

When churches are healthy, and overflowing with resurrection life, we act as "salt" and "light" arresting and even reversing the decay of the neo-pagan world which surrounds us on all sides. (See "Body Life" by Ray Stedman, http://pbc.org/dp/stedman/bodylife). Of course God wants healthy churches because healthy churches overflow with joy and freedom and real life. Resurrection power is contagious and irresistible--and as Ray Stedman once said, "resurrection power works best in a cemetery where it is most needed."

The prophet Ezekiel was give an amazing vision of Jerusalem just prior to the destruction of the city by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC. The Lord showed Ezekiel six destroying angels who would soon level the city, destroying hundreds of thousands of its citizens. With these destroying angels was a single "recording angel" whose job it was to search the city and place a mark (probably the letter tav) on the forehead of all who mourned and wept and grieved over the coming destruction of the city. (http://ldolphin.org/Destr.html)

Does one find anyone in America today who grieves over the impending destruction of our nation? Does anyone care whether or not their friends and neighbors never see heaven but stay lost forever? Where can one go to find groups of Christians calling out to God for mercy on their neighbors who have no hope beyond this short life on earth?

One of the really surprising things about the present bewilderment of humanity is that the Christian Church now finds herself called upon to proclaim the old and hated doctrine of sin as a gospel of cheer and encouragement. The final tendency of the modern philosophies, hailed in their day as a release from the burden of sinfulness, has been to bind man hard and fast in the chains of an iron determinism. The influence of heredity and environment, of glandular makeup and the control exercised by the unconscious, of economic necessity and the mechanics of biological development, have all been invoked to assure man that he is not responsible for his misfortune and therefore not to be held guilty. Evil has been represented as something imposed on us from without, not made by us from within. The dreadful conclusion follows inevitably that as he is not responsible for evil; he cannot alter it. Even though evolution and progress may offer some alleviation in the future there is no hope for you and me now. I well remember how an aunt of mine, brought up in an old-fashioned liberalism, protested angrily against having continuously to call herself a miserable sinner when reciting the Litany. Today, if we could really be persuaded that we are miserable sinners, that the trouble is not outside us but inside us, and that therefore, by the grace of God, we can do something to put it right, we should receive that message as the most helpful and heartening thing that can be imagined. (Dorothy Sayers)

The Biblical message that the world is full of lost sinners is not popular these days. Warnings about an impending World War (which will surely bring the near destruction of all mankind) are laughed at and ignored--though that is exactly the scenario the Bible describes for the days which lie just ahead. It seems illogical that God would let all these "good" people around us perish and save only a few. But that is the reality the Bible unfolds when it presents God's point of view:

Let God be true though every man be false, as it is written, "That thou mayest be justified in thy words, and prevail when thou art judged." But if our wickedness serves to show the justice of God, what shall we say? That God is unjust to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) By no means! For then how could God judge the world? I have already charged that all men, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin, as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands, no one seeks for God. All have turned aside, together they have gone wrong; no one does good, not even one." "Their throat is an open grave, they use their tongues to deceive." "The venom of asps is under their lips." "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness." "Their feet are swift to shed blood, in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they do not know." "There is no fear of God before their eyes." Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For no human being will be justified in his sight by works of the law, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction; since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:4-26)

The Content of the Message we are to Deliver

The Gospel is good news announced in many different ways to people in order to bring people into contact with the God who loves them and longs to know them personally and intimately. The heart of the Gospel is the message of God's unconditional forgiveness and mercy offered to all people, everywhere. (See 1 Corinthians 15:1-21)

Announcing the good news of Jesus Christ does not include bashing sinners but offering them solutions and answers to their needs. God accepts people as they are--because Christ has died for them and they are welcome to come to Him. The ground is level at the foot of cross. In 2 Corinthians Paul expresses his own longings that all men might be persuaded to be forgiven and reconciled to God.

For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ controls us, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once regarded Christ from a human point of view, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:13-21)

As far as God is concerned, human sin has been effectually dealt with once and for all by the sacrifice of His Son. The issue between man and God is now, "Do you want to be forgiven?" "Will you accept the free offer of God's grace and rule in your life so you may be restored to real life and made into a whole person?" People who are lost are lost not simply because of their sins, but because they refuse the gift of real life itself which God graciously offers everyone.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him." (John 3:16, 17)

Ray Stedman says,

This is the message, above all else, the world needs to know. The problem with people everywhere is they have no security, no sense of acceptance, no sense of worth. The universal problem of our day is one of poor self-image. Everybody has a poor self-image. Even the blustering people who try to make out that they are self-sufficient have one. Deep inside they know that is a cover-up; they know they do not really feel that way. They are scared and frustrated oftentimes. They have to pretend that they were able to handle everything, but at the end of the day they know they did not.

The reason people feel that way is because they feel an alienation, an estrangement, from God. They live in a universe they obviously know does not belong to them. They did not make it; they do not run it. This whole world was running long before you and I showed up on it. People know that, therefore, they feel uneasy. Estrangement and alienation is the supreme problem of our day. Any psychiatrist or psychologist will tell you that.

Well, that is what this message is addressed to. We are lost, we are alienated, we are cut off from the God who runs everything. This is a message, therefore, that strikes home to human hearts everywhere. It does not make any difference what color your skin is, what is your background, or how you grew up. You can say this to a savage in the jungle; you can say it to a business man in the trade marts of San Francisco or Wall Street; you can say it to a craftsman, a plumber, a doctor, a lawyer, or whatever. They all need this universal word sent to the world...

We learn that God does not take sin lightly, that something has to be done to settle the problem of our evil. But it has been done. That is the point. God has settled the problem of all our sins, every one of them, by placing them upon his Son. He has paid the full penalty that justice demands so that when we come to God he is not compromised by being good to us; his justice has been satisfied. His love, therefore, is free and released to be manifest to us. He accepts us in love and gives us, according to this verse, the righteousness of Christ himself. I do not understand that either, but I believe it. What a marvelous sense of acceptance and forgiveness and being loved that gives to me. Now do not read that wrongly. It says, "So that in him we might become the righteousness of God." I know a lot of Christians who read that as though it means, "That gives me a chance to start trying to behave. If I work hard all my Christian life to be a good person, then I finally become 'the righteousness of God'".

No, he does not say that at all. It is not something that you are going to become, according to the way you behave. It is something you are right now. You start your Christian life on that basis. You already have, instantly, when you believe in Jesus, the righteousness of Christ! You are righteous, you are forgiven, you are restored. That is the way God deals with us. Because we have that righteousness already, we do not have to earn it. It is our delight then to begin to behave like it, and to start being righteous -- because we are righteous. I hope you understand that, because that is the "good news." It is no "good news" to come to somebody and say, "Christ forgave all your sins up to now, but from now on you'd better watch it. You are going to have to pay for all those." No, no, that is not the gospel. The "good news" is they are all forgiven, all your life long, including those you have not even done yet.

God knows your struggle. He has dealt with that. He is never going to take it back and he is never going to act in any different way toward you. Because that problem is settled, he can come right in alongside of you and help you learn how to act righteously on that basis. And he will -- lifting you up, forgiving you, restoring you, strengthening you and staying right with you until life finally ends. So this is the glory of it. We learn here how a God of justice can come to a loveless, hard, self-righteous, selfish, hurting, and hurtful sinner like you and me, and not count his trespasses against him. That is the way he does it, because, "he who knew no sin was made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (http://raystedman.org/2corinthians/3686.html)

The Spirit's Task in the Present Age

Just as the responsibility and calling of the Christian is to announce the good news of God's love to the world around us, so also God the Holy Spirit has been sent into the world during the present age to accomplish three great purposes. The Spirit does His work as we present the good news of God's forgiveness and gift of new life made possible by the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Jesus said to His disciples before He left them, "Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convince the world concerning (a) sin and (b) righteousness and (3) judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. "I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you." (John 16:7-15)

 All of us are "Religious"

No man can be without his god. If he have not the true God to bless and sustain him, he will have some false god to delude and to betray him. The Psalmist knew this, and therefore he joined so closely forgetting the name of our God and holding up our hands to some strange god. For every man has something in which he hopes, on which he leans, to which he retreats and retires, with which he fills up his thoughts in empty spaces of time, when he is alone, when he lies sleepless on his bed, when he is not pressed with other thoughts; to which he betakes himself in sorrow or trouble, as that from which he shall draw comfort and strength -- his fortress, his citadel, his defense; and has not this a good right to be called his god? Man was made to lean on the Creator; but if not on Him, then he leans on the creature in one shape or another. The ivy cannot grow alone: it must twine round some support or other; if not the goodly oak, then the ragged thorn -- round any dead stick whatever, rather than have no stay or support at all. It is even so with the heart and affections of man; if they do not twine around God, they must twine around some meaner thing.---Richard Chevenix Trench (1807-1886)

Where Faith Comes From

Our Postmodern culture lends no credence to the absolutes of Scripture. No matter--our responsibility is to simply announce the gospel thoughtfully, carefully, and prayerfully so that the contents are heard and understood. The Word of course appeals to the mind, but more so to the heart and conscience. Allowing Jesus to be Lord of one's life is a moral issue not merely an intellectual one. Ray Stedman says,

"Salvation is found in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." {Acts 4:12 NIV}

You cannot read the book of Acts without recognizing that the basic creed of the early Christians was: "Jesus is Lord." These are days when you hear a lot about mantras, words that you are supposed to repeat when you meditate. I suggest you adopt this as a mantra: Jesus is Lord. Say it again and again, wherever you are, to remind yourself of this great truth. When Peter stood up to speak on the day of Pentecost, this was his theme, "Jesus is Lord." And all the thousands of Jews listening to him could not deny what he pointed out -- that Jesus had lived a unique life, had been witnessed to by the prophets before him, had been raised from the dead in a most astonishing way, had died a most remarkable death, then had poured out supernatural signs from heaven, evidences they could not deny, and they had to recognize the fact above all facts, that Jesus was Lord -- whether they liked it or not. Therefore, the great question of all time is "What are you going to do with Jesus?"

Paul tells us here that Jesus is Lord, and if you have come to the place where you believe in your heart that he is risen and available, and you are ready to say to yourself, "Jesus is my Lord," then God acts. At that moment God does something. No man can do it, but God can. He begins to bring about all that is wrapped up in this word saved: Your sins will be forgiven. God imparts to you a standing of righteous worth in his sight; He loves you; He gives you the Holy Spirit to live within you; He makes you a son in his family; He gives you an inheritance for eternity. You are joined to the body of Christ as members of the family of God; you are given Jesus himself to live within you, to be your power over evil -- over the world, the flesh, and the devil -- and you will live a life entirely different than you lived before. That is what happens when you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead.

What Scripture everywhere confronts us with is the necessity for every individual to settle the question, "Is Jesus Lord of your life? Is he your Lord? Have you enthroned him and acknowledged him where God has placed him, as king over all the earth, the Lord of glory, the one who is in charge of all things?" When you do, that is the moment when redemption begins to occur. Now, see how Paul confirms this in the verses that follow (Verses 11-13):

As the Scripture says, "He who believes in him will not be put to shame." [Here Paul quotes Isaiah. It is not on the basis of works, but on the basis of belief -- he who accepts what Christ does, who believes on him, will not be put to shame.] For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile -- the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." [That is the word of Joel the prophet.] {Romans 10:11-13 NIV}

These verses indicate that this is not something new with Paul, but it is something all the Scriptures have taught, both Old and New Testaments alike -- that faith is the way by which we lay hold of what God has to give us. It is never gained by earning it, or by trying to be good, or by the good outweighing the bad, but simply by acknowledging that Jesus Christ has done it all on our behalf.

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" {Romans 10:14-15 NIV}

Now, there are five steps involved in calling on the name of the Lord. Paul begins with that final step, the call itself. He traces it back for us so we can see what is involved in bringing people to the place where they cry out to God in a sense of need and desperation and are saved, born again, changed, regenerated, made alive in Jesus Christ. Paul begins by stressing the fact that each person individually must call on God. "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." The important thing, therefore, is to bring people to that place.

As we have already seen, in the first part of this chapter, this is not just a routine matter. It involves the whole being. The heart must be involved, that is, the inner consciousness, the deep conviction of the will. Then the mouth must acknowledge it. There must be a willingness to consciously confess that Jesus is Lord, and this must be done before God and others as well, to evidence a deep-settled conviction that Jesus is Lord. This means, of course, that God does not hand out salvation like some free coupon that comes in the mail; it is yours whether you like it or not. There has to be this individual, personal conviction. It is not enough to come and sit under the hearing of the gospel. Some people think that if they go to church regularly and hear the gospel they will be saved. No, there has to be a time when you personally call on the name of the Lord. I want to stress that, as the Apostle Paul does here. But behind the call is belief. Paul says, "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in?" So there has to be belief. That means the mind has to be engaged -- the intellect is called into play. I think this is important because so many times today we think it is enough to get the emotions stirred up. I have been in many evangelistic services where people were stirred emotionally but they did not understand anything about what God had done. They had nothing to believe in; they were just stirred up to want something...

Now, the glory of Christianity is that it has a message that is grounded in history. It is objective truth, not just something that happens inside of you. It is not some feeling that you are following that you hope will work out; it is the story of historic events. One of these events is the coming of Jesus as a baby in the manger of Bethlehem, the coming of the wise men from the east and the uproar and unrest that it caused in the kingdom of Judea, beginning with Herod the king himself. That is all part of history. Then there was the resurrection and the events that followed in the church. These are all historic events -- objective truth. The great thing of the Christian faith is not that we are presenting some philosophy, but a faith that is grounded in events that cannot be explained away. That is our message. Behind the message, of course, is the messenger. "How can they hear without someone preaching to them?" There has to be a messenger speaking forth this message. This is why I believe God has always used some object or person to convey truth and that this method will never be superseded. All the marvelous machinery and inventions that we have today -- the media of communication -- are only ways of conveying the preaching of the Word of God. You can preach today on television, on radio, on cassette tapes, and on video tapes. You can have the message flung up to satellites and back to the four corners of the earth. But in every event, someone has to deliver the message. God has chosen preaching as his means of conveying this great truth in every generation.

That is why I don't believe that the distribution of the Scriptures alone will ever be sufficient to win men. Now, I do not demean that ministry, because it is a very important one. The translating of the Word of God and the spreading of the Scriptures all over the earth are important. But they are only supplementary. That, alone, will never reach and change nations as does the gospel when proclaimed by a human messenger. God has sent men out everywhere, therefore, to preach this word and to proclaim the truth. And behind the messenger, as Paul brings out, is the sender. "How can they preach unless they are sent?" I don't think there need be any doubt as to who does the sending. Jesus himself said, "Pray the Lord of the harvest, that he may send forth laborers," {cf, Mark 9:38, Luke 10:2}. It is God who sends men. The great initiative in the process of redeeming men and women, healing them and restoring them, healing the fragmentation of their lives, is the great heart of God that sends men out. He calls out men and women and sends them into the far reaches of the earth.

I think that Paul has brought all this before us in order that we might understand what a wonderful and beautiful thing this is that God has done. That is why Paul quotes Isaiah here: "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" {cf, Isa 52:7}. What a welcome and beautiful thing it is to think of God sending out men and women all over the earth with this message. What a marvelous thing it is when this message takes root in the human heart! We never forget the ones who bring it to us. I am sure that many of you can think of people who came to you with the message of Christ, and they are dear to you because of that. "How beautiful are the feet" ... feet are not usually the most beautiful part of the body, but even they become beautiful when the message is conveyed and God delivers and frees and heals us and makes us whole...

Every time an individual comes to the place where in quietness he calls out to the Lord, a tremendous process is behind it. There is the darkness and anguish of the mystery of the cross, the birth at Bethlehem, the wonder and miracle of the resurrection, the sending forth of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost -- all this is the process behind a single individual when he calls on the name of the Lord. God is behind it, he has started it. The apostle wants us to understand this activity of the sovereign character of God.(http://raystedman.org/romans2/3525.html, and http://raystedman.org/romans2/3526.html)

Life-Style Evangelism

The world was forever changed when the Son of God became a man and entered the mainstream of history. No longer was God remote and impersonal, He was to be found in all his fulness in the man Christ Jesus. This means that God meets people person to person, and in a human way. He relates to us on our level, as one of us. The key verse in Luke's gospel is surely the short statement, "For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost," (Luke 19:10).

What is required of us is more than words in our spreading of the gospel--we are all called to "life-style evangelism" as well. Today, more than ever before, our credibility as Christians in the modern world depends on our demonstration that Christian living is exciting, winsome and fulfilling--it is real life not one of any number of counterfeits available to us on all sides.

The Absent Landlord Will Soon Return

Contrary to popular mythology, this planet does not belong to us, and our future is not in our own hands to determine. We are visitors in a house and country which was build by Another. This planet, and the rest of the universe as well is owned by Jesus Himself. (Colossians 1:15-16)

Jesus began to tell the people this parable: "A man planted a vineyard, and let it out to tenants, and went into another country for a long while. When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, that they should give him some of the fruit of the vineyard; but the tenants beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent another servant; him also they beat and treated shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent yet a third; this one they wounded and cast out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, `What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; it may be they will respect him.' But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, `This is the heir; let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.' And they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants, and give the vineyard to others." When they heard this, they said, "God forbid!" But he looked at them and said, "What then is this that is written: `The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner'? Every one who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; but when it falls on any one it will crush him." (Luke 20:9-18)

The Urgency of the Day

Jesus said, "A man once gave a great banquet, and invited many; and at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, 'Come; for all is now ready.' But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, 'I have bought a field, ant I must go out and see it; I pray you, have me excused.' And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them; I pray you, have me excused.' And another said, 'I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.' So the servant came and reported this to his master.

"Then the householder in anger said to his servant, 'Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and maimed and blind and lame.' And the servant said, 'Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.' And the master said to the servant, 'Go out to the highways and hedges, and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.'" (Luke 14:16 24)

How to

So much for the "theory" of evangelism. It is quite a different matter to learn how to lead others to the Lord Jesus. Today's skilled and experienced evangelists have much to teach us about reaching our Postmodern culture, and Generations X, Y, and Z. God is always creative and innovative when He works through His people to reach the lost. The place to start is with prayer. The need for creative evangelism, at least in the area where I live, has never been greater. If the church is to save herself in the Bay Area surely the only sure bet now is for her to get busy pouring herself out in one last effort to reach the vast population around us on all sides who are "without God and without hope in this age."

"How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?" (Hebrews 2:3)

Recommended Reading:

"Evangelism Outside the Box," Rick Richardson, IV Press, 2000

"The Church on the Other Side," Brian D. McLaren, Zondervan, 2000

"The End of the World---As we know it," by Chuck Smith, Jr., Waterbrook Press, 2001

"Living Proof: Sharing the Gospel Naturally, " by Jim Petersen; Navpress 1989

"Church Without Walls: Moving Beyond Traditional Boundaries. " Jim Peterson, Navpress, 1992

"Out of the Saltshaker & into the World : Evangelism As a Way of Life," Rebecca Manley Pippert;, IV Press 1999

"Radical Renewal : The Problem of Wineskins Today," by Howard A. Snyder, Touch Outreach Ministries, 1996

"Beyond Radical," Gene Edwards, Seedsowers POB 285, Sargent, GA 30275, 1999.



lambert@ldolphin.org

August 2, 2001

Back to Lambert Dolphin's Library