I’m starting to wonder if the church has the right concept on evangelism. As I examine the church as a whole around the world, but in particular the American church. I keep asking myself more questions rather than rejoicing in what it is. Don’t get me wrong, I rejoice that we have the church, that Jesus gave His life for it and that we have a means of salvation through His sacrifice and the church is a foretaste of our heavenly home…or is it?
As a young preacher I used to love kicking around that statistic that the church was at one point the fastest growing faith in the world….in the 40’s and 50’s. Now as I have matured and gotten older I look at that and say, whoop-di-do. Why? Because when you look at our pews today, that is not the case and even when it is the case I have found that many people in these large “growing” churches have shallow, superficial faith. You can ask people, why do you follow Jesus? And more often than not you will get a very vague response or the response that is typical. There is no real depth to conversion or obedience.
I asked myself, why is this the case? Simply put…we have failed at evangelism. We are doing a good job at converting people and a poor job at discipling people. So I ask you again, do we have the right concept of evangelism?
Remember Jesus’ words in the Great Commission? He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20). Notice Jesus said nothing, not one word about “converting” anyone, instead He says disciple them! In Mark’s account of the Great Commission he says, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15). Again Jesus doesn’t talk about converting anyone but rather says to start teaching people and obedience for salvation will follow!
You might be sitting there saying, “well isn’t that conversion?” To some degree you might be right, but let me share some thoughts with you. Does the teaching and discipling process that Jesus is talking about mean, “teach them the steps to the plan and get them in the water and now you have a Christian”? I’d have to say no. Discipleship meant way more to Christ than that. Jesus didn’t or expect superficial followers, remember the followers that did it just for food? Jesus rebukes them and tells them if they are going to follow Him they need to do it for the right reasons in John 6:26-27. Sadly, too many people are following Jesus not for the works they know He can do and the relationship they can have but they follow Jesus out of the “what’s in it for me” attitude.
You guys, this has shaken my soul and it has lit a fire in my heart. We have been getting it all wrong for too long. We are so focused on 5 steps to salvations that we forget to teach and show people how to have a meaningful relationship with the Savior. Don’t take this the wrong way, as I am sure some might spin it, I still believe the Gospel plan and that baptism is essential but I think we are so focused on this 5 step rule following and not developing relationships geared towards obedience.
I wonder what would happen if we stepped back, reevaluated why we are sharing the gospel with others, really taught them, discipled them and truly fed them the bread of life, not bread that perishes. Maybe we have just been getting it wrong. Lets quit trying to convert people and start convicting them.
By Andrew Chavarrilla