Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Evangelism in the 21st Century

Evangelism is the lifeblood of the church. Those who know say a church must grow 10 % a year just to maintain itself. The Great comission, one of the last things Jesus commanded the Apostles sets forth clearly their directive (and ours, as we imitate them) to preach the Word to every person. But how can we do that today?

There was a time when many non-Christians would come to Gospel meetings just for something to do, hear the Word, and be converted. In those days TV was not a factor, nor where the various sports activities for every member of the family, club meetings, etc. In "those days" (not to say the "good old days") it was common to have 10 or more visitors to a Gospel meeting, with at least one baptism, frequently more. Today many churches have a time getting their members to attend a Gospel meeting, much less visitors.

There was a time when radio programs sparked a lot of interest--everyone listened to the radio--no ipods, stereos, boomboxes, etc. so what was said on the radio was heard throughout the whole community. While radio seems to be making something of a comeback, it just doesn't have the influence it once had.

We must acknowledge that the world we live in has changed--people are busier, have much more entertainment/distractions, and even have less time to think or meditate. Does that mean that evangelism no longer works or as it is commonly phrased "nobody wants to hear the truth anymore"? Do we need to make changes in evangelism, and if so what kinds of changes should we make?

The nitty gritty of conversion has always been (and will always be) people sitting down and studying the Bible together, with an open heart to learn what God would have me to do. The needs of mankind have never changed, so God's Word has no need to change either. The only way people grow in faith is by hearing the Word of God. There is no substitute for Bible study, particularly guided Bible study to help a sinner see what His condition is before God and what God expects of him. No, Bible study cannot be changed.

On the other hand, our ways of making contacts probably will change. Talking to people you already know and have some influence with, is always the best way to find those willing to study. Often times we just need to ask them--quit beating around the bush and ask them. But if you are diligent you will eventually run through that group of people, so where do you go next? In times past door knocking worked fairly well, or radio programs, even ads in the newspaper, but these don't seem to work as well as they once did. That doesn't mean there is no interest in spiritual things, nor that nothing can be done. It merely means we must explore other ways of sparking interest in the non-Christian.

The internet is a wonderful tool for teaching. There are a couple of websites among brethren, in several languages, that receive over 100,000 "hits" a month--that many people go to the website and look at at least one page. Obviously most of them don't continue, but some do. A well done website can produce results, not only locally, but throughout the world. Our website is priglesiadecristo.com. We have articles and sermons in both English and Spanish, along with powerpoints, etc. We encourage you to come check it out.


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