Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Quick Thoughts about Evangelism

During my college years, the Lord allowed me to travel with and direct a number of college ministry teams, presenting the gospel to children and teens in more than fifty churches. That was quite an opportunity and one that I don't disregard. However, as I look back on my training, experiences, and methodology, I have begun to question the common philosophy behind many of those ministries. What I mean is that most of those ministry teams were geared toward a concise presentation of the gospel as opposed to a long-term period of discipleship. Obviously, an evangelist or ministry team is limited in the amount of time he can spend at any one location. That's not necessarily a bad thing as Philip the evangelist was used by God to do much the same thing. However, there seems to be an overemphasis on the one-time presentation of the gospel as opposed to what the Lord Jesus intended when he originally commissioned his disciples.

If you attend an evangelistic church, you no doubt have been encouraged to take a pile of gospel tracts with you wherever you go. And why not? You can distribute these inexpensive papers at the gas station, Wal Mart, with a tip, or even under the windshield wipers of the cars in a parking lot. The latter method was practiced recently in the parking lot of a Catholic Church near my place of employment. In this instance, one of my co-workers was interested enough to spend the evening reading the 16 page pamphlet about erroneous Roman Catholic doctrine. With that in mind, I do recognize the benefit of gospel tracts and Christian literature. However, it would seem that many Christians equate this and other "quickie gospel hits" with the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

As many others have said, the main verb used by our Lord in the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) refers to "making disciples." The Great Commission involves giving the gospel, but there is so much more. Notice what the text itself says: "teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." While that would include the gospel in a nutshell, it also covers all the other topics he addressed in the gospels, and, mind you, also in the writings inspired by him in the rest of the New Testament. That certainly broadens our responsibility beyond what we have often viewed as a fulfillment of our responsibility.

3 comments:

dale said...

Andy, you've written some very good stuff over the months. Very good stuff. This is, by far, one of the best postings I've read, my friend. Thank you.

Andy Rupert said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Dale. This topic is one that's been on my heart since college. I'm just now getting around to thinking it out a little more. Being a youth group advisor has helped me to think through how it can be applied in real life. With God's help, we'll attempt to do things right.

dale said...

God bless you and your family this wonderful Christmas season, Andy.