Evangelism


27 Aug

On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur there was once a crude little life-saving station. The building was just a hut, and there was only one boat but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea, and with no thought for themselves went out day and night tirelessly searching for the lost. Some of those who were saved, and various others in the surrounding area, wanted to become associated with the station and give of their time and money and effort for the support of its work. New boats were bought and new crews trained. The little life-saving station grew.

Some of the members of the life-saving station were unhappy that the building was so crude and poorly equipped. They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge of those saved from the sea. They replaced the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in the enlarged building. Now, the life-saving station became a popular gathering place for its members, and they decorated it beautifully and furnished it exquisitely, because they used it as a sort of club. Fewer members were now interested in going to sea on lifesaving missions, so they hired life-boat crews to do this work. The life-saving motif still prevailed in this club’s decoration, and there was a symbolic life-boat in the room where the club initiations were held. About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boat loads of cold, wet and half-drowned people. They were dirty and sick and some of them didn't look like most of the people in the club. The beautiful new club was in chaos. So the property committee immediately had a shower house built outside the club where victims of shipwreck could be cleaned up before coming inside.

At the next meeting, there was a split in the club membership. Most of the members wanted to stop the club’s life-saving activities as being unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal social life of the club. Some members insisted upon life-saving as their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a life-saving station. But they were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to save lives of all the various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own life-saving station down the coast. They did.

As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old. It evolved into a club, and yet another life-saving station was founded. History continued to repeat itself, and if you visit that sea coast today, you will find a number of exclusive clubs along that shore. Shipwrecks are frequent in those waters, but most of the people drown.

We have worked through some core convictions this summer and we finally come to the last one in this series: Evangelism is most effective when the church acts like the Church outside of the building on Sundays. 

This is a truth we must be convinced of if the church is to move forward and be used by God. Too often the church is viewed like the lifesaving station in the story above. There is a tendency to simply hope that people see we are Christians and will want to come to our church or worship Jesus because we do. We want anything or anyone to lead someone to Jesus as long as we don't have to open our mouths and profess our faith. We are the frightened ones rather than the faithful ones.

    Evangelism is about telling others the good news of all Jesus has done. This is proclaimed from the pulpit of faithful Gospel-centered churches but it should be proclaimed everywhere a Christian goes. Some look at the pastor as the person paid to "get people in the doors" and to "grow the church". After all, isn't that part of his job? The Biblical truth is that the pastor is an equipper. A mobilizer. A person who prepares others to minister and serve. (Ephesians 4:!2) In other words, my job is to get you ready to go out and share Jesus with people who don't come to the building on Sunday. In fact, the work of the church doesn't even really take place on Sunday! We worship yes, but the real work of the church, "going into all the world making disciples, baptizing them and teaching them to observe all that Jesus commanded" (Matthew 28:19-20) is done Monday through Saturday.

     Are you willing to share your faith in Jesus with people around you? What is holding you back from going on a lifesaving mission Monday through Saturday? 

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