Personal Evangelism – A Matter of Life and Death!
A few years ago, brother Phil Sanders of “In Search of the Lord’s Way”, wrote the following in their monthly newsletter: “The churches of Christ have declined in recent years. We are losing more than 8,000 members and about 50 churches every year… As you can see, we have much to do to take the gospel to the lost. The world has always been worldly and deceived by false religion. We must do all we can to preach the truth in love, so that by all means we might save some.” Such congregational graying, shrinkage, losses and spiritual fatalities certainly come as no surprise to most of us.
“The Waldron Newsletter,” for Aug. 2015, also confirmed: “According to the 2015 edition of Churches of Christ In the United States, there were 13,155 congregations in 2003, w/1,656,495 adherents.” It then went on to report how, over the next dozen years, the Lord’s church experienced a 6.5% overall loss in the number of congregations, and an 8.3% overall drop in the number of adherents (or 136,800 precious and priceless souls lost) over that same twelve year time period.
But perhaps the most stunning point of that entire article was the revelation that, “Thirty-five years ago, we and the Mormons were about the same size…” But while we stood at approximately 1.5 million members (when that article was written in 2015), Waldron reported that “they are four times as large as we” – with a whopping, reported, 6.2 million members at that same time! How does that even happen? Especially when so many of their doctrines are so far askew from anything even vaguely resembling biblical truth as to be absolutely ridiculous in the first place? The answer (according to Waldron), was that they grew like that “…because of leg work, the riding of bicycles and the pounding of pavements.” In other words, because of each individual member, doing their own individual part, in personally spreading their message. So why don’t we, who speak “as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11) and who claim to proclaim the ‘book, chapter, and verse’ gospel truth as our only message (2 Timothy 3:14-4:2; Jude 3), make an even more diligent, devoted, personal and individual effort to share that daily?
Perhaps it is because we choose to fool ourselves when it comes to the How and Who of personal evangelism:
Contrary to popular opinion, simply inviting someone to church (presumably so that the paid ‘professional’ preacher can then take over and do all the necessary teaching) is not really engaging in personal evangelism by any biblical stretch or definition. The fact is that you can search from one end of the New Testament to the other, and you will never once, ever find, where any Christian ever invited any lost soul to the worship assembly of the church so that they might possibly be converted – ever. Just like the so-called ‘Sinner’s Prayer for Salvation,’ it simply isn’t there anywhere in the Scriptures. (And so, the question is, if we don’t believe in the ‘Sinner’s Prayer for Salvation’ simply because it is never found in the Scriptures anywhere, then how can we possibly insist on such a pattern for evangelism as inviting lost people to church to be converted when that isn’t ever even found once therein either?)
But the first-century church, despite no member ever being recorded as having invited any lost soul to the worship assembly of the church so that they could be taught and converted, and despite epic life and death persecution on a scale which we cannot even scarcely begin to imagine, still grew like wildfire! How on earth did they do it? What is the divinely-inspired blueprint and biblical pattern for achieving such?
–To Be Continued Next Week --
Cooperative Meeting: Lay Lake supported our meeting in a wonderful way! Despite cold weather, distance, etc., many of you assembled, worshipped and encouraged one another. Thank-you and may God richly bless you!