Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Where do we reach them?

Here are some insightful quotes from Jim Elliff that I came across today that encourage the importance of GO-ing to where people are and sharing the words of life with them on their “turf”. This is done while gaining encouragement and strength to do so through the Holy Spirit in corporate worship and daily dependence in Christ our Savior.

On New Testament Corporate Worship

…the early church gathered on Sundays for believers to worship God. The emphasis
is that the design of the meetings was for believers. Unlike so many worship
services today, no real emphasis was given to the nonbeliever. They did not
spurn them, of course. And if they came in they might be convicted by what they
heard (see 1 Cor. 14: 24-25), but the church was not focused on attracting
outsiders during these services. Because of this they could pray long prayers,
hear long sermons, get on their knees, etc., all practices which would not be
appealing to the outsider. In other words, worship and evangelism were consider
two different things. The Lord's Day gathering was about worship. The rest of
the week was about evangelism. Jim Elliff - Copyright © 2006
On New Testament Mass Evangelism

…the early church, to my knowledge, did not plan any meetings for attracting
nonbelievers. The history shows that they always borrowed the crowds of others.
Over a dozen times, for instance, the early Christians went to the Jewish
synagogues to spread their message. Sometimes they conversed or reasoned with
the people for months in these settings. Even in Athens, Paul went to the
synagogue first. They also used any mob settings where people would gather in
opposition to them. They sometimes saw crowds gather through the apostolic
miracles or by just preaching in the marketplace. Again, they went on the other
man's turf. Jim Elliff - Copyright © 2006
On Modern Mass Evangelism

Unlike the early church, the major way evangelism is done today is by
arranging various gatherings for the nonbeliever. When you design meetings for
evangelism, you have to ask the further question, "How do we get them there?"
This is what is driving the whole entertainment evangelism movement. At first,
churches would use any means as long as it was close to the gospel. That is,
they might use music as a primary means. But now, anything goes, whether it is
systemic to the gospel or not. And, because people generally don't want to hear
the gospel preached, the methods are getting more and more unusual and dramatic.

This has the following results, in my thinking. First, it trivializes
the gospel message. Coming to Christ is a very serious thing. A person is damned
and is going to hell because he or she is rebelling against God. But now they
are reverting from that whole way of life to enter into relationship with
Christ. Entertainment does not mix well with such a serious message. The result
is that the message suffers.

Second, I believe that it produces spurious results. When persons
respond to such a message that is so intermingled with entertainment, they often
misunderstand the calling of God given in the gospel. An emotional appeal at the
end of an emotion packed and excited period of entertainment causes people to
act without clarity and sensibility. At times, even a kind of group response to
the gospel can take place. Many of these so called converts fall away and show
no signs of really entering into relationship with Christ. Jim Elliff -
Copyright © 2006
We must Go and compassionately share the grace of the Gospel without neglecting the hard words of Jesus such as judgment day and righteousness. It is the Father that draws men to the Son (John 6:44, John 10:29) through the preaching of the Gospel (1 Cor. 1:21) by those He sends (John 17:18) which are those He has already saved (2 Cor. 5:19). It is the Son that when lifted up in the Gospel proclamation that draws men to Himself (John 12:32) which is the only way a man can come to the Father (John 14:6). Any other way to the Father apart from Christ will reveal the person to be a thief and a robber (John 10:1).

If we draw men through any other means, hoping they will come, what will it be that they come to if indeed they come at all? Will it be a clouded message that obscures the Gospel which is the power of God unto salvation? May nothing obscure the greatest message of all eternity for it is through the Gospel and the clear teaching of it that men can even begin to understand the unending glory of God and the richness of His mercy.