From Faith Pulpit, used with permission.
Every Christian understands the importance of evangelism, but sadly it is on the decline in many churches. And the scarcity of evangelism has led to the decline and closure of many churches. In this issue of the Faith Pulpit Dr. Daniel Brown, faculty member of Faith Baptist Theological Seminary, challenges pastors to follow the Biblical command to “do the work of an evangelist.” If pastors will carry out their responsibility, more people will have the opportunity to hear the gospel and our churches will thrive again.
Many churches do not have an active evangelism program. This lack of evangelism has led to two negative consequences: 1) fewer people have the opportunity to hear the gospel message and receive the Lord, and 2) the lack of new believers leads to the decline of our churches.
Churches in America die at an alarming rate. Some 4,000 churches close every year, and the United States has one-third fewer churches than in 1950. Further, 80% of American churches are either stagnant or in decline.1 Anyone driving through New England can testify to the myriad of old, stately churches that are now small stores of one sort or another.
It’s one thing to say “the gospel is central to all we do.” It’s another thing to declare that Jesus Christ died for sinners and rose again. It’s yet another thing to integrate the gospel into how we look at every part of ministry. Note the difference between these statements:
Statement 1: We have a children’s ministry to further the gospel in the lives of children
Statement 2: We have a children’s ministry because we all come into this world as sinners in need of rescue by a living, sinless Savior. It’s never too soon to start learning this freeing truth (Matt. 19:14, John 8:32).
Many Christians are looking for a style of evangelism that works, which is to say one that produces visible, measurable results. Surely every Christian desires to see people turned from darkness to light, but most have learned that reported results and genuine conversions are not necessarily the same thing. Let’s take a look at one of the Apostle Paul’s evangelistic efforts recorded in the opening verses of Acts chapter seventeen. Here we find a biblical example of evangelism that works.
This endeavor took place in the Macedonian city of Thessalonica. The location was carefully chosen. After laboring fruitfully, and being expelled from the city of Philippi, Paul and his missionary team traveled west. They passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia without stopping because they had their sights on Thessalonica. Both of these cities were smaller and less significant than Thessalonica. Were there people in these locations who needed Christ? Yes, but Paul, a master strategist, had reasons to push on to Thessalonica because of its major importance.
Read Part 1.
What can Baby Boomer church leaders do to develop growing disciples from the Millennial generation?
1. Motivate and train older people to build growing relationships with younger people in your church.
Godly older people can be a powerful positive influence, if they don’t become isolated, bitter and alone. This is why church leaders must make ministry to senior citizens a top priority, and not just to provide aging generations fellowship with other old people. An effective senior citizens program must be much more than that. Left alone, seniors are likely to feel put out to pasture, as if their days of effectiveness for ministry are long gone. They need to be motivated and trained to spend their retirement years being proactive about building positive relationships with the next generation. Emerging generations need to hear their stories and learn the lessons of living for Christ over the long haul. In fact, I encourage church leaders all over the country to recruit older people to be youth workers. Yes, their days of playing tackle football are long gone, but one never gets too old to build relationships. The generation gap is perhaps best bridged by older people taking the initiative to develop growing, encouraging relationships with young people.