In this blog I’ll address the second Big Idea that can change the way we do church.
bled on a fact largely ignored
by modern evangelistic methods: evangelism is not an event, but a journey that takes place over a course of time as a person makes a multitude of small, incremental decisions leading to faith in Jesus.
If I had intelligently read passages like Matthew 13 and 1 Corinthians 1, I would have seen this, but I took my cues from men and women who seemed to be ahead of me spiritually, and so I accepted their idea that evangelism is all about telling the message. In John 4, Jesus makes it clear that the “harvest” (a person coming to Christ) is dependent on the “cultivation” of the soil (preparation of the heart). What this means is that each time a Christian has an encounter with a non-Christian—whether we talk specifically about Christ or not—we are either drawing or repelling a person to Christ. Of course, God wants us to intentionally seek to draw them by both our words and actions. But most people today will need to develop a trusting relationship with the gospel messenger, before they accept the message. In fact, on average, nine to sixteen individuals help cultivate the soil of the heart and plant seeds of truth before a person finally decides to trust Christ. That’s why I define evangelism as not just telling the gospel message, but helping a person take the next step toward a relationship with Christ. This is not to reduce the importance of the message in any way. It needs to be told “clear and simple.” But the seed of truth needs to fall into a heart well cultivated in order for growth to occur.
So where do we find hearts that need cultivating and where can we be most successful in this organic type of evangelism? For most of us it is in the workplace. It is here as colleagues, clients, and customers discover whether the gospel is credible by watching us—words and actions. What would happen if churches equipped people to live the good news at work as well as tell the good news? What would happen if pastors began to realize that the words, thoughts, values, and actions of their congregation Monday through Saturday were more important to the Kingdom of God than what was said and done on Sunday? It would certainly change the way we do church.
These four Big Ideas are found in Going Public with your Faith
Thanks to Rae Allen for the image.