There are more than 300,000 Protestant churches in America.
Virtually every city in the United States has an abundance of Bible-believing faith communities.
Why? Here are seven reasons:
1. We have outsourced the work of evangelism.
We have delegated, relegated and abdicated our outreach efforts to those who have the “gift” of evangelism.
We wait for the next festival or outreach to come to town before we even think about this God-given duty. After all, evangelism is the domain of the greats like Graham, Palau and Laurie, not common people like Larry, Curly and Joe Schmo. Right?
Instead of “leaving it to the professionals” we need to take THE Cause of Christ personally.
Let’s stop waiting for the bigwigs of evangelism to roll into town, and start going ourselves to make disciples of our own next-door neighbors, co-workers, family and friends.
2. We have lost our sense of urgency.
Take hell out of the equation, and evangelism seems like a nice, but not necessary, activity. Put hell back in, and suddenly everything changes.
Suddenly, souls are at stake and time is a wastin’. We start to reach out like there is no tomorrow … because there may not be for those who don’t know Jesus.
And simmer down, my dear Reformed friends. It was the great reformer himself (aka, “The Apostle Paul”) who asked, “How will they hear without a preacher?” right in the middle of his longest explanation of the doctrine of election (Rom. 9-11.)
It is possible to believe in election and to be motivated to snatch others from the fire and save them (Jude 23.)
It happens when we stop trying to connect dots that were never meant to be connected.
It happens when we stop trying to reconcile God’s sovereignty and our responsibility.
It happens when we choose to live in the tension and share the Gospel like lost souls depend on it.
3. We are ashamed of the Gospel.
I believe many Christians are secretly ashamed of this catalytic “narrow-minded” message.
To tell someone Jesus is the only way to heaven and faith is the only means to Jesus is to say, in effect, all other paths lead to hell. We live in an inclusive culture that values every path, so when we proclaim Jesus to be the only path, it can lead to mockery, marginalization and mayhem.
And nobody likes being mocked … so most keep their mouths shut when it comes to evangelism.
But Jesus himself reminds his disciples in Matthew 5:11-12: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Instead of being ashamed, we need to boldly proclaim the Gospel with gentleness and respect. Let us embrace every sarcastic response to our evangelistic efforts as a hug from Jesus Himself.
4. Many Christians can’t explain the Gospel.
Put a microphone up to the face of most church-going Christians and you’ll discover most can’t clearly explain the Gospel message in a simple way.
It’s hard to share a message you can’t explain clearly yourself. Napoleon had three instructions for his wartime messengers: “1. Be clear! 2. Be clear! 3. Be clear!” We need to heed his advice by mastering the message of the Gospel (1 Cor. 15:3, 4) and then clearly articulating it to those we encounter (Col. 4:4.)
5. Church leaders are not leading the way.
Most church leaders I have encountered are not actively leading the way for evangelism in their faith communities.
They may pull off an outreach every now and again. They may bring in some professionals to exercise their gift of evangelism in their church services once or twice a year.
But most are not actively leading in evangelism on a personal or public level. Ask your pastor, youth leader or even outreach pastor to tell you the people they are currently engaged in an evangelistic conversation with, and you may be surprised … and disappointed.
As the old statement goes, “When there is a mist in the pulpit, there’s a fog in the pew.” This is true of both bad exegesis and non-existent evangelism.
If the spiritual teachers in the church aren’t sharing their faith personally, then why would we be shocked if their students are failing at Evangelism 101. As Jesus said in Matthew 10:24, “No student is above his teacher.”
6. We have forgotten how to pray.
For years I relegated intercessory prayer to little old ladies and crazy people. Why?
Because the intercessors I knew were older than 80 years old or seemed like they needed Ritalin. But God slapped my hand and shut my mouth when he brought me to my knees four years ago.
The Great Recession taught me how to pray.
At first it was for financial provision for our ministry, which had been hit hard by a loss of major donors after the stock market crashed. But then, as God provided financially, He turned my prayers toward the Mecca of ministry. I started interceding, not just on behalf of Dare 2 Share (the ministry I lead), but on behalf of my unreached neighbors and friends.
When church services spend more time in announcements than intercessory prayer, then you know something is broken. If we want to reach every person in this nation with the good news of Jesus, we need God to act on our behalf. We need Him to soften harden hearts and open closed doors. We need to pray like we mean it.
7. Churches don’t mobilize their young people to share the Gospel.
The vast majority of those who come to Christ do so by the age of 18. So why aren’t more churches inspiring, equipping and unleashing their young people to engage evangelistically with their peers?
If I were selling a certain product, and I knew a certain demographic was most likely to buy my product, then I would use the majority of my marketing dollars to get in front of that particular demographic. This is only common sense.
While we, as Christians, aren’t selling anything (we’re actually giving it away!), we know the demographic most likely to believe our message is young people.
But, instead of focusing on training and unleashing Christian teenagers (who are searching for a cause) to reach non-Christian teenagers (who are more open to the Gospel), we spend the vast majority of our money on buildings, budgets and Bible studies to minister to adults. This doesn’t make common or kingdom sense.
It’s time we drop our lame excuses and reach this nation for Jesus Christ. Who’s with me?