What Evangelism Is Not

Many people are confused about evangelism. They want to be committed to evangelism, they see the need for it, and they understand their biblical responsibility, but they are confused. Why? Because there are a lot of things that are called evangelism that are really nothing more than poor substitutes. Here are a few of them.

Evangelism

1- Evangelism is not getting someone to repeat a prayer: If your goal is to talk someone in to repeating a (sinners) prayer, then you are committed to manufactured results, not evangelism.

2- Evangelism is not inviting someone to church: This is important, and it may work in conjunction with evangelism, but it is not evangelism.

3- Evangelism is not social work: Again, this is important. It is a task to which all Christians should be committed, but it is not evangelism.

4- Evangelism is not winning an argument: Apologetics is important, and it is necessary to be able to defend what we believe, but arguing or debating and evangelism is not the same thing.

5- Evangelism is not the same as the results of evangelism: It is easy to get the two confused. Someone accepting Christ as their Savior is the result of evangelism. The success of evangelism is found in our faithfulness to the task, not in the perceived results.

6- Evangelism is not a program: It is easy for individuals to rely on a program of the church and, by default, neglect their personal responsibility. Evangelistic programs are great and needed, but they do not replace personal evangelism.

7- Evangelism is not simply supporting overseas missionaries: This is needed, but if this is all we do we are in danger of outsourcing our evangelistic responsibilities.

8- Evangelism is not just a willingness to confront a stranger: If we are willing to knock on the door of a stranger while ignoring our neighbor and the people we see daily, it is not evangelism we are committed to, but a cheap substitute.

What is evangelism? Mark Dever stated it perfectly. “The Christian call to evangelism is a call not simply to persuade people to make decisions but rather to proclaim to them the good news of salvation in Christ, to call them to repentance, and to give God the glory for regeneration and conversion. We don’t fail in our evangelism if we faithfully tell the gospel to someone who is not converted; we fail only if we don’t faithfully tell the gospel at all. Evangelism itself isn’t converting people; it’s telling them that they need to be converted and telling them how they can be.”

5 Reasons Why the Future of the Southern Baptist Convention is Bright

When one looks at the Southern Baptist Convention there are reasons to be excited. This is not to suggest that the SBC is perfect, but that the future is bright. Here are five reasons why I believe this to be the case.

5 Reasons Why the Future of the Southern Baptist Convention is Bright

1- The Seminaries

Someone once said, “As go the educational institutions, so goes the movement.” While, I don’t know who made that statement, I believe it to be true. Educational institutions set the sails for movements and denominations. When one looks at the seminaries of the SBC, there is reason for great confidence. The flagship seminary of the SBC, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY is thriving. They are producing doctrinally conservative, gospel-focused ministers and educators.

As I meet graduates of the SBC seminaries, I am continually impressed with the quality that is being produced.

2- The Focus on Missions

David Platt’s passion for the nations is well-known. Since taking control of the International Mission Board (IMB) it seems that his passion for world missions has been spreading throughout SBC churches. While difficult decisions had to be made in order to move the IMB toward greater fiscal responsibility, the goal of spreading the gospel to the unreached peoples is taking root. This is seen clearly seen in the 2015 Lottie Moon Christmas offering. According to IMB.org, “the 2015 Lottie Moon offering totaled $165.8 million — the highest total in the 127-year history of the offering. The offering surpassed the previous all-time record of $154 million in 2013 by $11.8 million. The 2014 Lottie Moon offering totaled just over $153 million.”

The future of missions is bright within the SBC.

3- The ERLC

The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission led by Dr. Russell Moore is doing a wonderful job helping churches navigate difficult social issues. God’s timing is perfect. Since his election to this position in 2013, our country has seen a barrage of social issues that are difficult to navigate. Moore’s voice within the ERLC has been a guiding influence for which the church should be thankful.

As more issues arise, I pray for the ERLC’s continued gospel-focused influence.

4- The Renewed Focus on Evangelism

If I took anything away from following this year’s convention, it was the focus on evangelism and the need to pray for spiritual revival. This is obviously a focus of the SBC’s new president, Steve Gaines, as it was for his predecessor at Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, TN, Adrian Rodgers.

A renewed focus on evangelism, prayer for revival, and a sincere desire to see God change lives will do nothing but further the Gospel-witness of the SBC.

5- Unity

The biggest storyline from the convention this year was the election of Steve Gaines as the new SBC president. Perhaps that is not the story as much as is how it happened. After two rounds of voting (choosing between Gaines and J. D. Greear) failed to produce a majority vote in favor of either candidate, Greear withdrew his candidacy for the sake of unity within the SBC.

Greear stated, “I’ve spent a good amount of time praying and I believe for the sake of our convention and our election we need to leave St. Louis united. … We are united by a Gospel too great, and a mission too urgent, to let a lesser message stand in our way. I am respectfully withdrawing my candidacy as president.”

This demonstration of unity will go a long way in preserving the unity within the Convention that is needed to further gospel-ministry.

While there are probably other bright spots that could be highlighted, these are five areas I think are helping to propel the SBC forward.

The Tragedy Of Weak Ordination Councils

Not too long ago I met with a group of pastors in Chattanooga at a local church for a quarterly meeting. In these quarterly meetings we spend time in prayer for each other as well as discuss one ministry topic. The topic in this meeting was the importance of ordination. I spent some time thinking about the ordination process in many Baptist churches and believe there are some serious concerns that need to be addressed.

The Tragedy of Week Ordination Councils

I will  readily acknowledge that my opinions are primarily based on my own experiences. But I have also had conversations with other pastors, and I have a feeling this is a wide-spread issue in Baptist circles.

I am afraid that the ordination process in many places has become nothing more than a dumbed down, good ol’ boy, buddy system where men are ordained based on relationships they have rather than the qualifications and giftedness they possess. I recently observed two different ordination councils for men whom I believe have been genuinely called to and gifted for ministry. However, there was not one doctrinal question asked in either council. They each lasted about 30 minutes and served no real purpose. There was no examination.  This is tragic!

Do we have such a low view of the roles and responsibilities of a pastor that we settle to simply assume someone has the correct doctrine? Does the responsibility of preaching and teaching God’s Word not demand a complete and detailed examination? We have lowered ordination standards and then wonder why the tenures of pastors are so short, why there is no power, why there is no impact.  Could it be that our ordination process (or lack-there-of) has placed people in ministry that have no business being there in the first place?

A weak ordination process opens the door to unqualified and uncalled men serving in positions for which they are not gifted. I don’t have all the answers as to what an ordination process should entail,  but here are a few thoughts.

  • It should include the candidate giving his salvation testimony as well as how he is growing spiritually.
  • It should include a complete doctrinal examination. The candidate should have to defend his doctrinal position, not just state it.
  • It should include questioning on general Bible knowledge.
  • The candidate should be required to explain the gospel as well as how to present the gospel to someone who is an unbeliever.
  • It should be done only after the candidate has been discipled by someone in ministry.
  • It should be done only after an individual has completed some biblical training.
  • It should only be done after evidence has been given of a genuine call to ministry.
  • It should only be done after giftedness has been proven.

Regardless of the ordination process your church adopts, be committed to a process of ordination that is thorough, serious, and impartial. The office in which these men desire to serve demands it.