The Obedience/Evangelism Disconnect

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If our salvation were to be contingent upon getting every jot and tittle just so then would one be lost if they disobeyed the Great commission? Technically the Greek there isn’t an imperative but over and over again we understand the Christian mission to be one of going and telling.

There is no more important directive in the Christian life than the call to evangelize the world and, sadly, none that are more easily passed over.

I believe part of this has to do with institutionalizing the church especially through reliance on hired staff. This move, taken to the extreme has made one’s contribution to ministry their literal monetary contribution with the understanding that that money goes into the work of the church. What is missed is that the work of church is the work of the church (aka the people).

So on one hand we press the priesthood of all believers, almost as an anti-Catholic apologetic, while ignoring the implications and application of what that actually means and requires.

What would happen if even 10% of the congregation were actively evangelizing the community? 20% 50% What would happen? For the most part, if we do what we were told to do the church functions in a healthy manner and healthy things tend to promote growth. There is little to no reason that Christianity should be in decline in the West other than that the church gave up on some of the most simple and straight forward things we were told to do.

11 Responses

  1. Good point, but I think you mean “tittle.” Of course, the main question this raises is what, if anything, neglecting local evangelism has to do with our salvation. Is the point of the post to gig the church for its inconsistency or is it to remind the church that it has a divine directive to evangelize and that there will be consequences if it ignores that directive?

    1. I did mean to correct that and forgot to go back! The purpose is two fold. First, for those who pride themselves on being obedient often this is given a pass. Second, it is an encouragement to obedience on one of the most important things God ever told us to do.

  2. In the cofC, almost no one was sure of their own salvation. Many were just struggling to keep all the rules, not sin, and unhappy if not miserable. Some of us had never heard the faith taught, even listening to twice-weekly sermons, and did not know what Christianity was all about. Sure we knew what the cofC taught, but there was more to the faith that wasn’t discussed. Thus, it was hard to teach the faith to someone else.

    In an episcopal church one Sunday I heard the priest say that you’re saved, you should be happy about it and now go and show off the happiness that a Christian should have and tell others.

  3. When I was a minister many years ago, one of the ironies that I consistently felt the gig from was the reminder of a significant number of members that I was not a pastor or a reverend, that I was no different than everyone else; only to hear that a successful “evangelism program” was my responsibility.

    Since then, I have come to the conclusion that a problem within the Church of Christ is the lack of desire to be truly spiritually challenged from the pulpit. Not just challenged to read the Bible more and attend the Sunday evening services and Wednesday night Bible study; but to become more Christ like, to be more of a child of, and for, God’s children. To be so challenged puts many on the defensive, accusing the minister of putting self above the congregation. So, the challenge they throw back at the minister is to bring in new people: “That’s what we’ve hired you for”, becomes the reprimand in the “business meeting”.

    1. When the cofC minister is not a pastor and the elders don’t act like pastors, then who is left? Also, there were just few sermons on Jesus during the year. You can’t get people to be Christ-like if you never tell them how Christ acted and how radical his actions were. I don’t know if your sermons began in the manner of “If you have your Bibles, turn to [one of Paul’s letters, chapter, verse] where we will begin this morning,” but I’m not sure if a cofC sermon could start in any other manner.

    2. You are so right Mark. And to be honest, when I first began preaching I started my sermons exactly that way. But in my last couple of years I prepared my sermons using the lectionary from the Book of Common Prayer, having the related passages from the Psalms, the Old Testament and the Epistles read, that would lead into my sermon from the Gospels. Believe me, when I started this I truly felt for the first time that my sermons were actually “Christian”. I can truly say that I did not receive any complaints from the church. But the pressure of making the church grow “numerically” was there until I was dismissed. Yes, dismissed. And I would be the first to confess that I did not handle the dismissal very well..there was anger and bitterness on my part for quite some time, for which I finally found relief through my own personal growth in God. But, that does not change what I have observed over the years. I’ve payed attention.

    3. What I should have said was, I did not receive any verbal complaints regarding my sermons from the Gospels. But I did strongly sense a distrust from some, as to where they thought I was taking them.

  4. One of the sad things in the coC is that we teach…and we teach…and we teach, etc. We teach that we should do this and how to do this and then expect people to do this, but no one actually says why aren’t we doing this?
    We don’t want to see what we are not doing, because as pointed out, this would be a flaw not just of us individually, but of our church system.
    We have no flaws.
    Our only flaw is that we are too good for the world.

    Part of the problem is that preachers today are paid to preach…primarily to the assembly. This is not what preachers did, primarily they went to the lost and converted the lost. Those in the early church met in homes, so no main preacher, and then the letters were written to the saints in the towns. Where were the preachers? Out evangelizing the lost.
    We need to support evangelist and give them the freedom and incentive to be free roaming, go where ever they need to go preachers and to teach Christ crucified, not coC doctrine.
    The reality is that preachers today are mostly people that correlate scriptures into sermons and then present them to people that should be reading the scriptures.
    We expect the preacher to convert the lost as they preach and teach the assembly of the saints. It is almost sad to listen to an invitation and song given over and over again to people that are saved, just because there might be someone that has drifted in and sat through enough sermons to actually piece together Christ.
    And yet no one comes forward over and over again.
    This is especially strange when we do this on Wednesday night when we have just the core there who are all saved and we ask them to be saved.
    Insanity is doing the same things over again and expecting different results.
    And it is wholly inefficient.

    1. The cofC knew the Bible but only on a single verse level, but not the gospels nor the context nor how Jesus repated a lot of what had been spoken by the Prophets to correct current rabbinic thought. Somewhere, someone decided that this was to be ignored in favor of cofC doctrine every Sunday.

  5. We often comment that the Pharisees didn’t know the scriptures, but they knew them very well, it is just that they concentrated on the points of the law to the point that they themselves became the keepers of the law and truth, pushing and straining the law past what was explicitly written. God was left out, even thought they did it in the name of God.
    Many in the coC have taken up the Pharisee cause without knowing it and even while despising the Pharisees.

  6. The Pharisees made long prayers or hymns among the Greeks to eat up the widow’s living

    Mark 7:6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips [music in Isaiah 29], but their heart is far from me.
    Mark 7:7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
    Mark 7:8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.
    Mark 7:9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.

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