While we’re winning the world, let’s not forget the local church.
The slogans we use to express the importance of the evangelization of the world are impressive and memorable. A sample of some of them indicates the seriousness with which we approach our task: “Let the earth hear his voice”; “New life for all”; “The great commission in this generation.”
Our slogans are backed up by a creative collection of evangelistic methods by which we hope to carry out our goal: satellite broadcasting, massive evangelistic crusades, and the increasing use of media of all kinds.
But where is the local church in all our strategizing? How closely are our slogans and evangelistic methods tied to the creation of strong and vital local churches?
Some leaders of the missionary and evangelistic movements of our time seem to imply that we can produce significant church growth and the evangelization of the world in our generation simply by a faithful use of such methods.
I am not going to argue that the use of these methods has not had a truly significant impact on world evangelization. But undue preoccupation with strategy can, I am afraid, make us forget a more important principle.
After more than 15 years of analyzing the effectiveness of our evangelistic efforts throughout the United States and the world, I have to conclude that our preoccupation with strategy and methodology can obscure the fact that evangelistic success and church growth must be outcomes, not goals. In other words, I am convinced that the building of a healthy church that will function as salt and light in the world must be the key to world evangelization in a far more central way than it is now in most cases.
If I may make my point in a more figurative way, we are like an army ...1
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