By David Bycroft
About 20 years ago during a doctor’s visit, I learned I had some serious health problems. My doctor described my problems and what would happen if I did not address them.
Part of me wanted to ignore the situation and go on living like nothing was wrong. After all, everything on the surface seemed just fine. Instead, with the urging of my wife, we began making some lifestyle changes that would improve my quality of life and give me a better chance at quantity of life. It would have been foolish to ignore my doctor’s advice and continue on an unhealthy path.
The same could be said of church leaders who are confronted with unhealthy spiritual issues in the church. When elders and preachers become aware their church (the Lord’s church) is not seeing souls come to Christ and little or no evangelism is happening, the tendency is to ignore the unhealthy diagnosis. After all, everything seems to be just fine otherwise. It is the wise spiritual leader who is willing to admit there is a problem and begin to take steps to correct the unhealthy situation.
The church that is not being purposeful in reaching out to the lost is ignoring the clear commands of Scripture. As a result, church members are setting themselves up for future spiritual health issues!
There would be no church if not for evangelism. You probably would not be reading this article if someone had not shared the story of salvation with you!
Having grown up on a farm in Illinois, I love harvest time. To see all the time, effort, and investment begin filling the trucks and bins is extremely satisfying. But what if you acquired the right equipment, purchased the fuel, and spent hours on the tractor seat, but never got around to planting any seed? You would say, “That’s ridiculous!” But that is exactly what the church that doesn’t evangelize is doing.
What if the only place the farmer planted seed was in the grain bin on top of the already harvested crop? I am afraid that is more common than you think. Preachers are faithful in teaching the biblical truth of salvation—believe, repent, confess, be baptized, and live faithfully to the end—but the only ones who ever hear it are the already harvested souls who gather together in the church each week.
Unless we plant the seeds of the gospel among unreached people, or invite such people to come and hear the life-changing message, there will be no harvest.
I see both of these examples modeled in Scripture. Jesus commanded his disciples: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19)*. If the disciples had ignored this command, the rest of the New Testament would not have happened, and the rest of the New Testament books would not have been written. However, the apostles obeyed Jesus, and went into the world and shared the good news of Jesus. As a result, the church expanded all over the world.
Invitational evangelism is the second way of reaching people. The classic example of this is in John 4, when Jesus meets the woman at the well. After being confronted with Jesus’ claim of being the Messiah, the woman believed him and went back into town and invited others to come and hear Jesus’ message. When they heard Jesus, they said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world” (John 4:42).
Because They’re Invited
The truth be known, most of the evangelism that takes place at Tyro Christian Church, where I serve, is the result of invitational evangelism. Our members invite family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors, or those who have just moved into the area, to come to services. Sometimes it is a simple invitation, and other times it is a deeper conversation about their personal needs that Jesus can fulfill. Either way, when the guests visit our church, they are confronted with a challenge to open their hearts to Jesus.
We believe Romans 1:16, where Paul announces the gospel “is the power of God for salvation.” We often witness that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). We then begin the process of connecting with them, further watering the seed of the gospel, with the hope of seeing them respond to God’s offer of grace. But it all begins with someone inviting someone to come and worship with us!
We constantly remind our people that wherever they are going—to school, work, social events, or around their own neighborhood—they should be looking for opportunities to invite someone to church.
We also plan special events at church to make it easier for our people to invite others. Those events help attract people to our church campus so we can connect with them and share God’s plan of salvation with them.
Is your church healthy in the area of planned evangelism? Has it been too long since you’ve seen individuals or families come to Christ? Do you need to have your evangelism pulse checked?
Don’t ignore this spiritual health checkup. Be willing to make changes in yourself and your church that will lead you to a healthier fulfillment of the Great Commission.
*All Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible.
David Bycroft serves as senior evangelist at Tyro (Kansas) Christian Church.