From the Archives – Ministry Success & The Great Commission

A two-fold assumption is often evident when believers are evaluating the effectiveness of churches, ministries, movements, and denominations. The assumption is, first, that the Great Commission is the standard of measurement and, second, that the way to apply the standard is to count the number of people who are hearing the gospel or are being brought into worship services.

Certainly it’s exciting when thousands gather for worship and hear the gospel. If they’re doing so in multiple locations linked by cutting edge video technology, many see that as progress into a new and wonderful future for the body of Christ.

But exciting and wonderful in our estimation isn’t always exciting and wonderful in God’s—even when our hearts are in the right place. Four principles argue that if we’re going to evaluate churches, ministries, and movements in a way that approximates God’s evaluation, we’ll have to consider more than the Great Commission, understood as number of souls reached.

1. The Great Commission is not all there is.

The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:15, Acts 1:8) says nothing directly about worship or about the people of God as a worshiping community. Still, nobody questions that the NT church is worshiping community. However, many do doubt—or at least fail to fully appreciate—how vital the united, exclusive, divinely-regulated worship of God is to the identity and health of a local church.

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Gene Veith on why some people don't like evangelicals

"What most bothers the public about evangelicals is that they are 'too pushy with their beliefs.'  That is, people don’t like being witnessed to.  That evangelicals care about non-Christians’ temporal problems, for which Jesus can help them,  and their eternal destiny, for which Jesus offers free salvation, does not matter." - Gene Veith

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The Gospel Way: Theologically Rooted Evangelism (Part 2)

By Sam Horn. Read Part 1.

4. We must celebrate the accomplishment of the gospel.

The gospel is also the record of God fulfilling His purposes and promises in four specific ways. By means of the gospel, God has fulfilled an ancient promise made to our first parents in the presence of their mortal enemy, Satan. Though this enemy bruised the heel of Jesus at the cross, the resurrection was the cosmic proclamation of Christ’s victory over our ancient foe.

The gospel is also the means by which God is in the process of reversing the ancient curse whose mark is death. In vanquishing death and defeating the grave, Jesus announced that eternal life is now the present possession and future hope of every dying believer. Death has lost both its power and its sting (1 Cor. 15:50–57). By means of the gospel, God has transformed death from a prison to a door by removing any cause for fear (Heb. 2:15).

Though active in this present age, Satan has been defeated and will soon be crushed under our feet (Rom. 16:20), and God will deliver His people of all ages and dispensations from the suffering, pain, and death that is our common lot in this present, evil, passing-away world (1 John 2:17). This is the good news of the gospel!

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Scared Little Kittens

Christians ought to make it their ambition to please the Lord (2 Cor 5:9). This sounds great in the abstract, but it becomes uncomfortable when it comes to evangelism. There are many approaches a church can take. The two ditches to avoid are:

  1. to focus so much on being “nice” (i.e. “See! We’re normal people, here!”) that you’re reluctant to give the Gospel lest it drive people away, and
  2. clinging to old methods that might not be the best for your area (e.g. door to door evangelism)

What happens in between these ditches depends on your context and your congregation. I minister in a very secular area, and I’m convinced nothing less than aggressive, winsome Gospel messaging will work. Next weekend, our church will participate in the annual Christmas parade in Olympia, WA. This is the secular epicenter of a very secular area. We’ll carry four 10’x3’ banners that proclaim the Gospel. We’ll hand out about 1000 bags, each with a Gospel tract and candy.

No other church goes near this parade. They should. It’s a great opportunity to give the Gospel. I think they’re either scared, or they don’t believe the Gospel, or they’re insular. I don’t think they’re maliciously insular or self-consciously scared. I think they’re intimidated by society, and they’ve tucked into their shells like frightened turtles. I don’t think they realize how cowed they are. I don’t know all this, of course - I just suspect it.

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The Gospel Way: Theologically Rooted Evangelism (Part 1)

By Sam Horn. Republished with permission from Baptist Bulletin © Regular Baptist Press. All rights reserved.

“No human mind could conceive or invent the gospel.” These words comprise the opening line of a little-known prayer included in a collection of Puritan prayers, The Valley of Vision. These words arrested my attention and caused me to reflect again on my own understanding, response, and commitment to the gospel—especially my ineptness, fear, and disinclination to share it with others even after three decades of ministry and multiple evidences of its transforming power.

I have learned that while my soul longs for the gospel, my heart is often indifferent to its effects—and my lips are often silent to its glorious truth. This sad state has become increasingly difficult for me to accept as the status quo. I am convinced that a good bit of my difficulty lies in my failure to reflect regularly and deeply about the true nature and divine purpose of the gospel. Furthermore, I suspect this same failure is why many Christians and evangelical churches fail to engage in sharing the gospel accurately, attractively, and authoritatively with those who desperately need to experience the redemption it offers.

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Douglas Wilson’s ‘spiritual takeover’ plan roils Idaho college town

"The church website explains the church’s mission further. 'Our desire is to make Moscow a Christian town,' it reads, ' … through genuine cultural engagement that provides Christian leadership in the arts, in business, in education, in politics, and in literature.'" - RNS

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