Monday, January 24, 2011

Why are there so few evangelists?

I am something of an evangelist. Not a very effective one I fear, but I do have a consistent and growing longing within me to speak about Jesus to those who do not yet know him.

I spoke a while back to a liberal Bishop in the C of E and he asked me what I loved about ministry. This was an easy answer for me. I told him I loved it when people get saved and shared with him one or two recent 'salvation' stories. Recently, I preached on idolatry (page 3) and a man was born again (see my recent discussion post on what this might mean). There is no greater joy. At the end of our conversation, I was left with the strange sense that this dear and kind Bishop had absolutely no idea what I had been talking about. The theology of such Bishops might explain why there are rather few evangelists leading churches in the C of E. What you believe drives what you do and who you recruit to lead.

But the wider question is really why are there so few evangelists across the board- even in evangelical churches? Well, I think you need to understand two things to be an effective evangelist. They seem contradictory and at odds but you need to get both of these straight in your head.

The first is you need to believe in the reality of Hell. If you don't currently you might find reading this helpful. You need to believe that there is no greater horror that awaits a human being than to come under wrath and be cut off for all eternity from Jesus. Read Rev 19:11-21 for an insight. You need to get the fear of the Lord deep into your bones and see that God doesn't want to but will send unrepentant people to Hell.

In this very interesting survey only 37% of evangelicals in the UK believe in hell but 54% believe in inerrancy. Work that one out (views on annihilationism, the view John Stott holds may account for this?). At least liberals are consistent and clear, albeit wrong. That just tells me that British evangelicals believe in the Bible but aren't reading it,  which is probably true. If they aren't currently reading, then they should at least make time to watch some good theology.

If you think Jesus is nice and cuddly and pastoral and relaxed about holiness then to be honest liberals have it right-why bother with evangelism and the need for conversion. The truth though is the bad news is terribly, terribly bad and when you really get this in you the evangelist starts to awaken.

The second crucial thing is you need to know the incredible longing of God to welcome us into heaven and into the father's arms of love. The evangelist must love Jesus and cultivate a burning love for others and this comes through prayer. Ravenill helped me so much on this. The bad news is very bad but the the good news is very very very very very good. There is such rejoicing and joy and wonder and love and pleasure over one sinner who repents. He welcomes sinners. God is a Prodigal God and if you don't know this then why not take yourself, your small group or your church through these six weeks. It will transform them, I promise.

Our God is one who welcomes back

I am so thankful for his mercy and grace.

Enjoy this which someone recently sent me.

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