What does it look like when our Christian communities buy into a door-to-door salesman approach to Evangelism where religious goods are traded and sold as though mere repetition or recitation mean authentic acquisition of the inheritance promised through and in Jesus Christ? Mark Dever in The Gospel & Personal Evangelism picks out four examples of the fruit of bad evangelism;

  • worldly people feeling assurance because they made a decision one time
  • real revival being lost amid our manufactured and scheduled meetings that we euphemistically call “revivals” (as if we could determine where and when the wind of God’s Spirit will move)
  • church memberships markedly larger than the number of those involved with the church
  • inaction in our own lives, as we ignore the evangelistic mandate – the call to share the good news

As I read through these four I had to hold my breath and say ouch, particularly the third one. Imagine if a true sign of conversion was involvement in the ministry of the local church….I’d think almost every church would have to move their membership numbers to one forth their capacity.

What if the ‘root’ of this bad ‘fruit’ is really due to a faulty sense of the nature of the gospel, its scope, and its end inside our local churches? What if the reason there are so many faulty evangelistic methods in the church today is because the church is herself a mixed bag of genuine disciples of the way of Jesus, and ‘club-card’ members of their local spiritual-community center?

Not very fun questions to raise…