There are five main areas in the Great Commission that Christ gave the church: evangelism, teaching, worship, fellowship, and service. However, it is important to highlight that, today, evangelism is not only the first but also the most urgent area of the whole mission that we must fulfill.
The reason for this statement is simple: All the other tasks of the church depend on evangelization. What would a shepherd be without sheep? What good would a teacher be if there were no students? Who would be served and with whom would one fellowship if there were no members? Yet evangelism is the least developed area of the church.
In the history of our denomination, the Church of God (Seventh Day), we have placed a great emphasis on the knowledge of biblical truth, and by the grace of God, we have achieved a great theological development. But not in evangelism. Statistics show that our growth in numbers has been scant, and in some cases, null. It is time to reinforce the evangelistic work that each and every member should participate in, considering, among other things, the following points.
- The church is called to evangelize at all times, in all places, and in all circumstances.
Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word (Acts 8:4).
The church of the first century grew significantly due to the work of preaching (4:4). But following Christ implies eventually facing difficulties. Still, the early believers took every opportunity to announce the good news of salvation to the world, even when persecuted. Never in the history of Christianity has the church grown as much as in the first century, when the believers lived in the midst of persecution.
According to an article on CBN News (January 2022), during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, more than 4,000 churches closed in the United States. Thirty percent of believers have not returned to church, and 20,000 pastors left the ministry. This data demonstrates the danger we find ourselves in. Not only are we not winning new souls for Christ, but in some cases, we are losing them.
As a church, we must recognize that God has called us to go out and testify what He has done through His Son Jesus Christ and what He has done in us. There is no time to waste. Evangelization is not a job done one day a week nor in a specific place, nor when the circumstances are optimal to do it.
Unfortunately, many Christians believe that going to worship on Saturday means satisfying our obligation with God, but that is not the case. In reality, the great work of the believer begins precisely when the pastor says, “Amen” at the end of the service. Evangelism is done at work, in the neighborhood, at school, and anywhere we go. As someone once said, each Sabbath the church is gathered to worship. The rest of the week we are scattered to serve.
- The church must understand that evangelism is not only a gift of the Holy Spirit but also a commandment we must fulfill.
The Bible says this about the gift of evangelism:
But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. . . . And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:7, 8, 11).
Also, the Lord commands, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19). Historically, the task of evangelizing has been assigned to a few members of the church — that is, those who have the gift. The rest of us have been merely observers and sometimes even angry critics, claiming that there is little or no growth of the church.
It is time to change our way of thinking. Evangelization is not the responsibility of some, but the privilege of all.
As a church, we have been zealous to keep the commandments of God. Unfortunately, we have not obeyed the mandate to evangelize. It is a forgotten commandment, or ignored by the vast majority of us. And the only way to reverse this reality is for each convert to also become an evangelist.
- The church must first talk to God and then talk about God.
Jesus said to His disciples: “What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops” (Matthew 10:27). First comes the preparation of the messenger and then the preparation of the message.
No one can speak to people about God if they have not previously been in prayer with Him. The fruit of evangelization is produced when the evangelist, filled with the Holy Spirit, gives the message of salvation to listeners. It is God who, through His Spirit, converts people. Human wisdom, good homiletics, or great theological knowledge do not convert the sinner. It is solely the work of the Holy Spirit. The evangelist is the means by which God has determined to complete this work, but the one who converts hearts is God himself. Paul in his own words affirms this: “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:6, 7).
Additionally, the evangelist fights against a spiritual power called sin, and only the power of God can defeat it. Paul says, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).
For this reason, Jesus insisted that His disciples not leave Jerusalem until they had received the anointing of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-8) or the presence of God in their lives. For everything previously mentioned, believers must invest time in prayer to God in order to be invested with His Spirit and become evangelists who bear much fruit in Christ, especially to win souls for Christ.
- Everything that we are as a church has a purpose: to testify.
The apostle Peter says what we are as a church and what we should do with what we are: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9). In this text I emphasized the word that because the two great statements Peter deals with in this passage — what we are and what we must do — are grammatically united by this function word. In this case, that is used to introduce a clause that provides more information.
In short, we are a church to the degree we testify. A church that does not announce the gospel is not a church.
Before Peter’s writing, Jesus promised believers that He would be with us until the end of the world (Matthew 28:20). But this promise is also given in the scope of the mission. This means that Christ is with us to the same extent that we are fulfilling the mission. If we don’t, we can’t assure His presence.
Joining the mission
Speaking of work in regard to the work of God and speaking of workers, Jesus said to His disciples: “Then saith he unto his disciples, the harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:37, 38).
This passage is quite profound. Jesus toured the cities and villages, teaching in the synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and ailment of the crowds. While observing the people, He felt compassion for them because they were scattered like sheep without a shepherd.
Reading the passage carefully, one can imagine Jesus overwhelmed by so much need. Despite being the Son of God, His spirit was moved seeing the crowds disoriented and aimless. Christ was so afflicted that He asked His disciples to pray that God would send the necessary help. Seeing the size of the mission, Jesus exclaimed, “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:38).
Here is another great teaching: There is no mission without missionaries. Let all of us do our part.
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