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Are we doing it right?

March 19, 2012

This past Sunday our Pastor, Ken Aune, gave a sermon on Acts 11 where Peter was giving an account to skeptical Jewish Christians of how he had come to go to the house of Cornelius the Gentile centurion and how Cornelius and his family were saved.  In the sermon he made a comment that really got me to thinking.  It went something like this:  “This was not Peter explaining his plan to grow the church.”  He went on to make the point that God had directed and ordained the entire outreach to the Gentiles.

As I was pondering that event, and reflecting that it was step one in the chain that would eventually lead to me, a Gentile, hearing the gospel, a thought hit me.  Isn’t “a plan to grow the church” exactly what we do nowadays?  Don’t we organize and plan ways to evangelize?  Frankly, don’t we consider it “job #1” for Christians?  Yet here is Peter talking about it almost as if it was something that just happened.

Out of curiosity I did a search on “evangelism” on Amazon.com.  It turns out there are there were 12,228 results on the subject.  Among the titles were:  “Evangelism Handbook”, “Evangelism: How to Share the Gospel”, “Personal Evangelism”, “Irresistible Evangelism”, “Conversational Evangelism”, “Questioning Evangelism,” “Evangelism That Works”, and “Biblical Evangelism.” 

Now I am not making fun of those books or their authors, far from it, but the whole idea of planned evangelism, which is the singular issue in many churches, has been on my mind.  What if we have it all wrong?  What if we don’t need 12,228 books on the subject?  What if all our training and methodologies miss the point?  What if “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (I Peter 3:15.) is meant to be taken literally? 

Could it be possible that what we Christians are meant to do is simply to live quiet and peaceable lives, to love one another, to turn the other cheek, to bless those who persecute us and simply to wait in confident expectation until God opens the door?  Who can say?  This much I know for sure; the first century Christians didn’t have 12,228 books on evangelism but somehow they managed to set the world on its head.

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One Comment
  1. Good thoughts! When I first started going to evangelical churches I carried with me the “social gospel” mindset so prevalent in the world. But instead of “fixing the world”–addressing the social inequities, etc.–evangelicals have been teaching it as “Get out there and SAVE the world.”

    One day the Lord showed me that all I have to do is follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. That’s all He asks of me; then I’ll be doing His will. As the Spirit leads, I can talk or write the thoughts He impresses me with. God has made such a simple way for His children. We make it so complicated — and organize our complication so well at that!

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