The vast majority of local churches in America are not growing.
This should break our hearts. This statistic means that more and more people in America don’t know the redemptive power of Jesus Christ. This fact will increase divorce, addiction, injustice, greed, sexual immorality, idolatry, oppression, and a multitude of other sins that destroy people’s lives. We need evangelistic local churches, fueled by Christ-followers who see themselves as missionaries. We need “good news” local churches filled with “good news” people.
So what does high-definition evangelism look like? Here are three characteristics of gospel-centered evangelism for a multiethnic world:
1) Evangelism must be rooted in a gospel-centered vision. What is the good news? It’s the announcement that Israel’s Messiah has accomplished what He came to do. Jesus has defeated sin, death, and evil through His sinless life, atoning death on the cross, resurrection, and ascension to the right hand of His father, where He is now our high priest.
Jesus now rules His kingdom at the right hand of God the papa. By grace alone, through the Holy Spirit’s power, people who trust in Jesus are swept up into his glorious kingdom. This redeemed, multicolored people become a “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,” proclaiming the “excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9–10).
2) Evangelism must be rooted in gospel-centered worship. Gospel-centered worship is not simply singing, but a lifestyle submerged, interwoven, and united to Jesus’ very life. When worship is a lifestyle, evangelism is not an activity but an identity. A congregation that sees all of life as worship is a passionate, Spirit-enabled missionary/evangelist community. When we live this way, we see ourselves as fishers of men in our workplaces, schools, and homes. The love of Christ compels us to live a life of worship in all that we do.
3) Evangelism must be rooted in gospel-centered discipleship. Discipleship isn’t knowing more information about Jesus, but knowing Jesus personally and being transformed into His image through the constant exposure of the gospel of grace in the context of a local church. Jesus’ life and mission becomes ours as we live by faith in Him in the everydayness of life by the Spirit’s power as His Church. The deeper a person’s discipleship, the deeper he or she goes into the culture to reach lost people.
A disciple becomes like the teacher, and our teacher is Jesus who came “to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Our teacher said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19). We believe that spiritually mature people love Jesus and want lost people to love him, too.
Evangelism in the 21st century is the same as the 1st century: saved people longing to see unsaved people come to know Jesus.