Ed: It’s hard to deny that we are living in challenging times culturally. The church’s influence is fading and we are struggling to find answers to some hard questions. What’s your take on the health of the church today, especially as it relates to our witness?
Trillia: Recently, Ligonier Ministries published a survey about the church that was quite alarming. It didn’t have anything to do with the public square, if I’m recalling that correctly; it was about what the church believes about our faith—theology and doctrine.
The results revealed a great lack in teaching and equipping, a lack of knowledge about some of the most basic aspects of our belief such as the character and nature of Jesus. That causes alarm in me because what we believe about God affects everything. And I want to be clear, I’m not talking about every church, I’m addressing the church in America and more specifically evangelical churches.
I think I’m much more concerned about this than I am about whether the church has influence. If the people in the church don’t have knowledge about God or a true understanding of the gospel, then we have bigger fish to fry than whether or not we are influential.
Ed: Evangelism has especially fallen on hard times. It seems that everything else—even good things like discipleship—has overwhelmed our passion for sharing the love of Jesus with others. What does evangelism look like today and how can we begin to develop a passion for showing and sharing the love of Jesus on a daily basis?
Trillia: I don’t know what evangelism looks like today except to wonder if people actually do share the gospel. I know it has to be happening because people are still getting saved, but I wonder if the evangelical church in America has lost the zeal and desire to share the gospel.
In many ways, I wonder if we are looking for programs to change people or systems and not the gospel. Is the gospel enough to change a heart? I believe in the power of the gospel, not because it’s theoretical, rather because it’s in God’s Word—it is the power of God to bring salvation. But I’ve also experienced this power in my own life, becoming a Christian as young adult. My hope is that we’d have a renewed vision for the power of the gospel.
Ed: You are a plenary speaker at our 2019 Amplify North American Evangelism Conference next summer, and you will be talking about “A Gospel for all colors and backgrounds.” Tell me about what a gospel for all truly looks like—one that transcends and brings us to a place of unity and one witness.
Trillia: A gospel for all nations looks like Matthew 28 and Ephesians 2 and the book of Acts and Galatians and Revelation. We see that the gospel is for anyone who would believe throughout all of the Scriptures. The gospel is race-transcending because Jesus came and died for every tribe, tongue, people who would believe.
What it looks like to share the gospel is another story.
God calls us to go and make disciples of all nations, but if we are honest, the “all nations” is often ignored. We say it, but are we actually pursuing those who are not like us? I think many of us would say no. It takes great effort and intentionality to reach out to those who do not look like you. It takes faith to believe in the power of the gospel to break down the walls of hostility and faith that God can use even you in his master plan to save those who do not look or sound or act like you.