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Relational Evangelism: Do I Reject It?

Too most this is what relationship evangelism means. Hanging out and having a good time…

Relationship or friendship evangelism, I am often asked why I speak out against them so often. Clearly, I speak about it a fair bit if I am asked if I reject them. So, I suppose the best way to address this is to begin to define terms and I want to start with relational evangelism.

What Is Relational Evangelism

In a previous article I gave a brief summary of what relationship evangelism looks like in the modern church. I don’t want to be accused of building strawmen just to burn them down. However, I will give a brief outline of what modern western relationship evangelism looks like.

Chiefly, relationship evangelism is the practice of first establishing ties to a person. Whether it is through work, proximity to one’s home or through friendship. Once one has developed that relationship and displayed that they are genuinely interested in getting to know the person and share in their lives, the Christian can then proceed to talk about their faith. The author of a recent book about evangelism suggested asking permission to share the Gospel with your friend.

This methodology is often defended by reciting the adage “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care…” The implication is that a person will not be interested in the Gospel unless you display interest in them.

The Problem With This Model

The biggest concern I have with modern relationship evangelism is that it rarely leads to actual Gospel proclamation. This seems to be backed up by several recent polls. These polls indicate that almost ninety plus percent of Christians have never shared the Gospel with anyone. Of course, statistics are easy to come up with, but not always easy to support.

However, if we look anecdotally across the USA we are seeing sharp declines in formerly strong and healthy denominations. In one case the SBC, the largest protestant denomination in the USA, reported that they are seeing progressively fewer baptisms annually. This happened because the SBC has moved away from the roots of her founders. It abandoned solid men who were strong on Gospel work. The SBC went towards the seeker sensitive model of relational evangelism.Even the Roman Catholics are reporting dwindling numbers.

So, based on the way relational evangelism is practiced today, yes, I do reject it. Modern relational evangelism is the tool of the pragmatic. Whatever it takes to get the decision is what we will pursue. This is antithetical to the Scriptures, the early church fathers and to even more recent theologians. Whitefield is oft quoted as saying, “God forbid I should travel a quarter of an hour with a stranger without speaking of Christ to them.” Make no mistake, when Whitefield says speaking of Christ he meant the Gospel.

The Answer To The Question

Now, to the true question. Do I reject relational evangelism? No. However, it must be defined according to scripture. Biblically defined relational evangelism is a wonderful tool. Not all of us have the opportunity or gifting to go into the public arena and preach the Gospel. Women are forbidden from open air proclamation because it is a form of preaching. Preaching is reserved for men. However, no one is precluded from one-on-one evangelism in the public arena.

However, all of us have relationships. If you don’t you are dead. In the context of those relationships the Gospel should be in the forefront of our minds. In the same article I mentioned previously I spoke about front-loading the Gospel into all relationships. What I didn’t do is define that in a tangible way.

Front-Loading The Gospel In Relational Evangelism

Peter in his epistle to the Jews speaks about how we are to live our lives. He is commending holy living to us. Peter is telling us to conduct ourselves in such a way to provoke questions from unbelievers around us. This provoking is intentional. It has as its’ end goal the advancing of the Gospel into the world around us. This is how you define relational evangelism biblically. This is front-loading the Gospel into each of our relationships.

Yet, we can front-load the Gospel in more direct ways as well. In the first example front-loading the Gospel is always on your mind. Like a person playing chess you are thinking several moves ahead. You are looking for an opening to ostensibly position the person in checkmate. Not because you only see them as a goal. Biblical love motivates us to look out for their best interest. In the second example you are starting the relationship off with the Gospel.

Are You Of Christ Or Of Your Occupation

In our culture it is normative for us to meet a new person and identify ourselves by our occupation. Often this stems from our deeply abiding passion for the work we do.  A woman blessed to be a stay-at-home-mom will often hear “So what do you do?” Her passion for the well-being of her children will often gush out of her in that moment. She will respond “I am a stay-at-home-mom and I home-educate my children!” Doctors and lawyers rarely need prompting to tell others what they do. (As a side note neither do Cross-fitters or Vegans…)

Yet think on this. What if we Christians practiced leading with the reality of our relationship with God through Christ. Imagine meeting a new neighbor. As you exchange pleasantries they say “I work at XYZ Inc and I am the vice-president of Sales. What do you do?” Instead of telling them your occupation you say “That sounds very important. What do I do? I am Christian who is passionate about reaching others with the message of Christ.”

That sounds awkward and difficult doesn’t it? Yet, tell me why it is so easy for us to identify with our occupation? Why is it so hard for us to boldly proclaim our faith? Could it be that it is easy for us to recite Romans 1:16 but not so easy for us to believe it?

I Fail All The Time

Look, I am guilty of this too. I recently met a neighbor for the first time. The introductions quickly turned to our careers. We discovered that we work for the same entity, just in vastly different capacities. Frankly, I led with my occupation. I didn’t lead with my missions work.  I didn’t identify myself as belonging to my Lord and Savior. It was the perfect time for me to do what I am commending to you my dear reader. Yet, I didn’t. Am I in sin? No. Furthermore, either are you. However, what are we doing to remedy this? Who should we be identifying with? Our employer or our God?

What Does Relational Evangelism Really Look Like

I recently had the occasion to have two conversations that stemmed from my openness about my faith. In the first instance an individual was watching a sitcom. There was a character in that program that was flaunting their sexuality. The person watching the program asked, “Man Todd, what is that makes this so in-your-face these days?” I asked him to explain. “Well you can’t turn on the TV. You can’t open a book or listen to the radio without someone bragging about being gay. Why is that?” he asked.

Always Ready To Give An Answer

Praise God for that question. I didn’t see it as a means to bash homosexuality. Instead I saw it as a road-map to the Gospel. He knew that asking me would result in a spiritual reply. Why? Because he had heard me speaking about my faith in the past. So, what did I do? I took him to Romans 1 and used that to launch into the Gospel.

“…Instead I walked her through the Gospel and explained a better hope…”

Another situation arose a few days later. It was with a young lady that knows me to be Christian. She doesn’t claim to be a Christian, but she has expressed interest. On this occasion she told me that her favorite verse from the bible is “for I know the plans I have for your says the Lord…” This led to a conversation that lasted several hours. During that conversation I was able to explain to her why that verse doesn’t apply to her. Instead I walked her through the Gospel. I explained why she had a better hope if she would turn to Christ and live.

In both of these encounters the conversations took place because I had front-loaded the Gospel. They knew me to be a Christian and they knew my replies would flow from that.

My Challenge

Here is my challenge in this area. Are you content to be identified by your occupation over and above Christ? If so, why? If not, what are we doing about it?

I really want you to think about this. Do you truly desire biblically defined relational evangelism? Or do you much more prefer having just the relationship? Are you holding out hope that someday that person will recognize your Christianity?

Does every conversation with every person need to centered on the Gospel? Not in the least. Yes! Take an active interest in the life of the other person. Yet, always have the Gospel in mind as you converse and look for the window when it opens. I have lost friends and family members, not every conversation with them is “Repent and believe!” However, you can rest assured there isn’t a lost friend or family member that I haven’t proclaimed the Gospel to. At least not one I interact with on a regular basis.

In Conclusion

Truly biblical relational evangelism has at its core the desire to see every person we know converted. If that isn’t your heart for every person you have a relationship with you have a heart problem. Furthermore, if you aren’t actively pursuing the advancement of the Gospel into the lives of the people you are in relationship with, what you are practicing isn’t relational evangelism, it is merely friendship. Therefore, you have a heart problem. And that is what I reject…

Soli Deo Gloria!

Todd

My Confession: I’ve Been Too Hard on Others

“Therefore, part of my confession is to seek forgiveness from those who I have been abrasive towards when it comes to Gospel Advancement…”

The Depth Of My Confession

My confession is probably obvious to others who know me best. I’ve laid out some heavy accusations against people, including believing family members. That being said; this isn’t going to be a retraction of my view on Gospel Advancement. I will not retract my view that a believer who fails to proclaim the Gospel to the lost on regular basis is in sin. I will always point back to James where he says, “The one who knows to do good and doesn’t do it is in sin.”

Failing To Do Good Is Sin

Therefore, my confession needs some explanation. Consider a young child. A child does not need to be taught to disobey. Due to our fallen nature  the Imago Dei is marred. Therefore sin comes naturally to a child. Have you ever seen a child that gets caught stealing and eating cookies? The evidence can be all over their face. Chocolate smears could streak their hands and arms; crumbs scattered all over the floor. The parents will still ask, “Did you take a cookie?” The child will still look them in the eye and lie, “No. I didn’t take the cookie.” As an astute theologian once said “We don’t become sinners when we sin. We sin because we are sinners.”

Instead, the young child needs to be taught to obey. Furthermore, they can’t understand obedience until it is explained and modeled to them. If you listen to the parents of a young child closely you will hear conversations that sound much like this. “Sweetie you need to listen to mommy/daddy. If you do that you could get hurt.” Or in the case of parents saturated with the Gospel, “Sweetie, mommy/daddy want you to listen to them because God says it is good for you.”

I have a beloved brother who has a daughter that just recently turned two years old. I watched one night as he gently educated her on the importance of obedience. He showed her the stove and told her not to touch the surface because it could burn her. He said it to her in several ways. It was clear he wanted her to understand just how important obeying him was for her well-being.

The Failure Of Shepherds

This is part of why I am making my confession. I believe that there are several reasons why Christians in the west are so inactive in Gospel Advancement. The biggest contributing factor is lack of instruction. For all the talk about making disciples the broader church doesn’t model disciple making very well. I sinfully focused my indignation on the wrong crowd. I haven’t been focusing on the root of the sin. Instead I needed to address the failure on the part of elders/pastors to properly disciple their flocks. Furthermore, I have wrongfully focused on the victims of the sin. By-and-large, elders/pastors are not modeling Gospel Advancement to their flocks.

As I have mentioned in a previous article, elders are not called to be fulltime evangelist. Local congregations need fulltime shepherds not fulltime evangelist. Part of discipling the congregation is teaching the sheep to make sheep. Part of teaching is demonstrating the need to be obedient. The congregation is never going to understand the weighty importance of the command of the Great Commission if they are not taught how important it truly is.

I Want To Apologize Personally

Therefore, part of my confession is to seek forgiveness from those who I have been abrasive towards when it comes to Gospel Advancement. I am truly sorry for having pushed so many to do something they have never been taught the importance of. My indignation should have been directed properly. And that indignation needed to be righteous. I implore you, if you are one I have offended or put undue pressure on, please, contact me.

The Lack Of Confidence

Another factor that leads to a lack of Gospel Advancement is the lack of confidence. Confidence in how to preach or share the Gospel. Some folks know the Gospel as it has impacted them. Yet, they do not have the tools to apply it to others in a way that is personal.

Let me explain.

I cut my teeth on The Way of The Master television program back in the winter of 2003 and 2004. It was that program that God used to save me. I had evangelistic zeal without knowledge. That early zeal was neither healthy or helpful.

Having been born-again into that culture I learned the language and methodology. Others I met were the same way. Some of us have moved beyond the repetitive methodology taught by Ray Comfort. Still others haven’t. However even more people don’t out of fear or lack of confidence.

How Not To Do It

I connected with someone locally because of our shared passion for evangelism. He later went on to be an elder of a local church for a short time.Every sermon this friend preached contained the Gospel. However, it was an addendum to his sermon. It was the Good Person Test from Way of the Master, tacked on to the message. He tacked the Gospel on to the end of his sermons. He didn’t weave it throughout. The Good Person test is a wonderful tool to have in your evangelistic tool box. I use it from time to time. However, it isn’t the only means of proclaiming the Gospel to the lost.

Yet, many today, believe The Good Person Test is the end all and be all of Gospel Advancement. The problem with that perspective is that it stifles many in their desire to proclaim the Gospel to loved ones. There is no natural flow in a conversation from simple everyday topics to the presentation of The Good Person test. It is just awkward.

“Hi. I’m Bill. How are you? Do you consider yourself to be a good person?”

That works (not in a pragmatic way) and it has its place in evangelism. But it doesn’t fit well into the scope of Relational Evangelism. Besides, there are numerous ways to get to the Gospel. Furthermore, many of them flow easily as you work to transition the conversation from the natural to the spiritual. This is what is lacking in the western church. Not only are elders/pastors not modeling the lifestyle to their flocks, they are not equipping their congregants properly.

I Want To Be Part Of The Solution

My confession is that I have failed to properly equip people that I have pushed hardest towards evangelism. I have not worked to prepare them for the task. I’ve shouted at them, in the proverbial sense, cajoling them for not being obedient. I have never truly explained why their lack of action is sinful. Thus far I haven’t invested the time to teach them or equip them for the task. I want to be part of the solution.

Introducing C.A.S.T.I.N.G.

My confession of sinful harsh judgment of fellow believers means nothing. I must seek to make right what I have done wrong. To that end I want to introduce the educational portion of If Only Even One. Years ago, before If Only Even One was even a thought, I came up with an acronym; CASTING:

Christians

…Being fishers of men meant casting a net, not using bait…

Arresting/Apprehending

Souls

Terribly

In

Need of

God

At the time that I conceptualized CASTING I saw it as a neat way to encourage people towards Gospel Advancement. Furthermore, I wanted to emphasize the truth that when Jesus called people to be fishers of men it wasn’t about using bait, it was about nets. As time went by I considered how to use the acronym as a tool to teach people how to evangelize. Several years went by and nothing ever came of my idea. I set the thoughts off in a dark corner of my mind to gather dust and go un-utilized.

See A Need Fill A Need

Fast forward, here I am writing out my confession and recognizing a need. As the old saying goes, “See a need fill a need.” So, If Only Even One wants to actively engage in equipping the saints for the work and the ministry of the Gospel. Consider it my act of contrition.

I humbly recognize that most evangelical Christians don’t engage because they have never been taught it is sin not to. Instead of assuming fear of man is the reason people aren’t engaging, I will seek to err on the side of love and ask how I can help. Furthermore, I will seek to teach my fellow Christians how to be bold Gospel witnesses. Furthermore, I will work to aid others in this whether the context is a relationship or a onetime encounter.

In Conclusion

My confession is a long time in the making. From now on I will seek to challenge the pastors/elders that are failing their flocks. I will push on them to reflect on Hebrews 13:7. I will ask those elders/pastors to consider if their congregants are a reflection of their conduct in Gospel Advancement. Because, rest assured, they are.

Again, my confession is too long in the making. To those that I have pushed on too hard, I sincerely and humbly apologize. Please forgive me. Elders/pastors, examine yourselves and see where you fit in this problem. Are you leading from the front or are you contributing to the James problem? Reach out to the ministry. If Only Even One is here to help…

Soli Deo Gloria!

-Todd

Why I Won’t Do “Fulltime Missions”

There Aren’t Enough Evangelist…

Not Enough Evangelist

When I decided that If Only Even One was going to be more than a YouTube channel I also committed to not going the route of “fulltime missions”. The landscape in my region is bleak. I mean that without any sense of drama. When it comes to an active Gospel presence in Southeast Minnesota and Northeast Iowa, it is a barren wasteland. There are places in the United States where solid evangelists are tripping over one another. A dear brother recently moved to southern California. When he got there, he decided to start going out and hitting the streets with the Gospel. His first excursion led to him meeting a like-minded evangelist.

That isn’t the case in my region. There is Ryan in Lacrosse Wisconsin, ninety miles away, who I’ve yet to meet face-to-face. Then there is my dear brother Kevin, in Davenport Iowa, almost four hours away. The next closest is Kris, five hours away in Fargo. Are you starting to see the picture I am painting?

More Than Enough Work To Do

When I converted If Only Even One into a missions ministry I could have begun to solicit funding. I could have justified a fulltime missions schedule. There are hundreds of target rich environments in my neck of the woods. The opportunities are endless and the work daunting. Yet, I couldn’t move myself to even start looking in the direction of fulltime missions work.

It isn’t a lack of desire. To be frank, most days, all I want to do is be out on the streets preaching. I love the time I spend with my family and friends, I would never give that up. Yet, when it comes to my work, I would much rather be using those hours to advance the Gospel. Nothing would be more satisfying than to be involved in fulltime missions work.

Why I Think It Is Selfish

However, fulltime missions work requires fulltime pay. Fulltime pay requires a massive number of supporters. Therefore, those supporters by necessity send their money to fulltime missions. Those monies go to support a missionary and often an entire household. Most missions supporters (Evangelical Protestants)are themselves paycheck to paycheck families. These families give sacrificially to their own local churches and then pour out even more to support countless other ministries. Furthermore, from a personal perspective, I would find it incredibly selfish to ask people that already scrimp to live; to support me. Imagine the way supporters would feel if they are giving hard earned money and then see a post from me about an expensive vet bill for my  dog…

I am not questioning the heart motivation of any person who is engaged in fulltime missions work in the USA. That isn’t my place. However, I do want us to think about the example of Scripture. Do we see a clear example in Scripture of men who are completely dependent on others for their support as they advance the Gospel into the world? I would suggest no. Certainly elders are worthy of their hire and double honor where the case warrants. That being said, elders aren’t called to fulltime missions. They are called to shepherd the local flock. This means that they should be training up men and women, to proclaim the Gospel in their day-to-day lives. Ya know, that whole Great Commission thing.

Whose Job Is It

Even Paul, as an apostle of Christ, did not claim the right to make demands on people for support. He labored among the people earning his own keep. Furthermore, he did this while proclaiming the Gospel to the world around him. Furthermore, Paul was more concerned for raising money for struggling churches than he was for himself. Paul was the very model of fulltime missions.

This does not preclude pastors/elders from being evangelists. A good pastor will model this behavior to the people God has placed under his care. However, what I am saying, is that the responsibility to go out into the world, does not rest solely on the shoulders of the pastor. Therefore, the concept of fulltime missions being supported by the local church; especially in the USA, seems utterly foreign to Scripture.

Is Fulltime Missions Work Even Biblical The Way We Do It Today

Let’s consider if fulltime missions in foreign countries is biblical. My favorite of all missions groups is Heart Cry Missionary Society, think Paul Washer. One of my reasons for this is their philosophy of missions work. They believe in sending out qualified men to areas devoid of sound doctrine. Once in those areas those men preach the Gospel faithfully. They then labor to train up men from the indigenous population to take over the work of fulltime missions. By training up indigenous men to be sound preachers the missionary is freed to move on. This is thoroughly biblical. Masters Seminary does the same thing through their ministry called TMAI.

Why I Won’t Do “Fulltime Missions”

Therefore, I couldn’t build If Only Even One as a fulltime missions ministry. I personally don’t see the support for it in the bible. I have a family, God has called me to work to support them. God has called me to work to provide. He has called every man with a family to work to provide for them. Will I turn down any offers of support for the missions work I do? Not on your life. However, rest assured, any support that comes in to the ministry will go to missions work( the board will see to that), not to support my family.

There is yet another reason that I am not going to ask for fulltime missions support. My overriding concern is that missions support has become an

“Don’t look at me I already gave to the missions fund…”

excuse for the broader evangelical church to wash their hands of obeying the Great Commission.

For many, sending money to a missionary alleviates the imperative of the command contained in the Great Commission. The view is such that any effort put towards spreading the Gospel into the world meets the command. Therefore, there is no need for them to be obedient to the command itself. It becomes a mere suggestion in their personal lives and not the deeply personal imperative that our Great Lord and Savior intended.

I Don’t Want To Contribute To A Problem

Seemingly the attitude becomes one of either disdain or sloth. Fulltime missions work is perceived as something that is done in other countries. Downtrodden countries, struck with wars and violence and financial blight, need the Gospel far more than the USA ever could. Missionaries need to spend their time in China and Africa and India or someplace that isn’t the USA.

Consequently, this tends to lead to an attitude that the missions work isn’t conducted in the USA and that we don’t need the Gospel the way those other countries do. Frankly, it smacks of the same attitude that the Pharisee had when he prayed in the temple alongside the publican. The evangelical church tends to get a bit of the “I am so thankful that you didn’t make me a foreigner” attitude going on.

Certainly, some do go on “missions trips”. Sadly, a majority of those are to countries that keep us in our comfort zone. Even more rarely is the Gospel actually proclaimed. Instead, we dig wells and build toilets. Even worse, very few ever enter missions work inside the bounds of the USA. Fewer still ever actually preach the Gospel.

Two Growing Spiritual Epidemics

Several things are taking place in the United States now. For the first time in the history of the Western Church, we are sending less missionaries to foreign nations than are being sent to the West. South Korea, by itself is on fire for missions. This is huge when you consider the size of South Korea and the history of Christianity in that nation.

The second is that aberrant groups are on the rise and working overtime to proselytize Americans. Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses aren’t the worst  offenders. Apostate groups such as Time to Revive (these folks are dangerous) and the Black Hebrew Israelites are out in droves. Time to Revive professes to be Christian but they are a dangerous NAR linked cult that uses manipulation and tricks to “preach the Gospel”. The BHI are recruiting thousands all over urban centers in the USA and they are radically racists and dangerous on a physical level.

Furthermore, as these two things happen, American Christians shrink back from the duty to evangelize. This shrinking back isn’t happening because of the prior two issues, the prior two issues are happening because the American Church is failing to do the good it knows to do, and it is in sin.

What Is The Answer

We don’t solve the problem by pulling even more Christians out of the work place to be on mission. The answer is for churches to get back to the assignment of sending ambassadors out into the communities around them. Only the Gospel will stop the cults and their influence. This has to take place on several levels.

My End Goal

This is why I consider If Only Even One a missions ministry, but not a fulltime missions work. My desire is not only to reach my region of southeast Minnesota and Northeast Iowa. My desire is to reach out to local churches and help them rediscover the joy of Christ in the work of spreading the Gospel. I want to train up evangelists in every town and city and burg. I want  stateside fulltime missions work made obsolete.

My end goal, is for If Only Even One to become a relic of a Facebook page and a YouTube channel that is so far out of date that it won’t be relevant anymore. Contact the ministry if you are interested in helping out. I will direct you to my board. If you have a desire to see your local church equipped to advance the Gospel into the world around your community, contact me, I will gladly speak with you.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Todd

I Want To Adorn The Gospel!

“About one month and ten pounds in to my fight to adorn the Gospel…”
July 7th 2018

My Idolatry

I want to adorn the Gospel, that is why I decided to start losing weight back at the end of June. It wasn’t on a whim either; it was a conviction. I wasn’t ultimately concerned for my health. While my health is an added benefit, I am far more concerned with what my weight says about the Gospel. As I have been engaging in mission work I have been harangued for numerous reasons. Several times over the last few years those rebelling against God have called me out for being overweight.

I was never the kind of overweight that lands a person on a reality TV show. However, I was clearly out of shape. I often joked “I am less in shape than I am in shapes.” I even said things like, “I would rather die fat and happy over skinny and miserable.” I wasn’t interested in whether my physical appearance told others I wanted to adorn the Gospel.

“I am less in shape than I am in shapes…”

What hit me at my core was how idolatrous that attitude is. While I never acted the part of a glutton, I certainly looked the part. Yes, it certainly could be said that some people responded the way they did out of conviction. They called me fat because it was easier than facing their guiltiness before God. At-the-same-time that would have been too easy for me. Furthermore, how I looked wasn’t showing anyone that I wanted to adorn the Gospel.

My Conviction

So, it started to rest on me and I came under some serious conviction. I am not sure if those comments were being used by God to prompt me to live a healthier life. Yet, what I did become sure of was that I didn’t want to look the way I was looking any more. This wasn’t some vain empty concern for my appearance. I haven’t yet gone full CrossFit.

Something else started to happen to me as well. I noticed that it wasn’t just me; there are droves of other street preachers that are very much overweight. Furthermore, there are many pastors that are as well. It cut me rather deep. Shouldn’t we all want to adorn the Gospel; especially when in the public eye?

My Hypocrisy

You could find me preaching against sin and wickedness in the world. In fact, I preach the Gospel in front of several strip clubs in my area. I challenge people, many of them professing Christians, about engaging in and endorsing such wanton immorality. Yet God calls gluttony a sin as well. God makes it clear that along with the fornicators and liars and murderers, the glutton is headed for serious trouble. So, I began wondering if how I looked showed that I want to adorn the Gospel, or if I was merely a hypocrite.

“I’m genetically predisposed to being overweight…” Come on brother, be real!

I would sooth my burdened conscience with soft answers. “You aren’t a glutton Todd, you are just getting old.” “It costs too much to eat in a healthy way.” Some justify their gluttonous obesity by blaming their genetics. Some hypocritically point to God and claim He made them prone to being overweight. However, these same people would balk at the homosexual who claimed God made them that way.

The Struggle

I will not state that there is never a legitimate reason for a believer to be overweight. There can be any number of contributing factors to weight gain, some of them truly medical. I have several friends that are handicapped in one way or another. It would be quite understandable for them to battle being overweight. Some of them do actively fight that battle. I believe that God is merciful and gracious to them in that. Furthermore, in that struggle, they adorn the Gospel.

Adorn The Gospel

However, the Gospel minister, be he an elder in the local church, or an evangelist on the street, has no cause or right to be overweight. In his first letter to the church Peter talks about our adorning in chapter three verses three through five. His primary focus in that passage is on the women of the church. They had been succumbing to worldly pressures to adorn themselves with fineries and fancies even while gathered for worship. Therefore, the focus stopped being about worshiping God and became a beauty pageant instead.

Peter was appalled. He had to correct the trend. So, he addresses the heart desire behind why those women would want to adorn themselves in such a way. Peter is loving and kind, but he doesn’t hold back at all. He points them to a better adorning. He tells them to long for a better adorning.

Gospel Motivation

This is what pushed me to lose weight. I had become comfortable in my body without giving a thought to how I was adorned. I never questioned whether my weight was communicating my desire and passion to magnify God. At no time did I take a moment to think that how I look to the lost doesn’t adorn the Gospel.

Several years ago, I became familiar with an itinerant revival preacher. This man travels from local church to local church preaching against fleshly living. He is a hellfire and brimstone type. I watched with awe as he would shout people into changing how they lived. He was good at it. He got me once or twice.

“On one occasion he called hellfire down on those who were regular attenders of the church but “couldn’t be bothered” to show up for the “special meetings…”

Yet, I also noticed that he was bordering on morbidly obese. This never seemed to faze him as he stood behind the pulpit sweating as he pounded on it to emphasize his most salient shouted points. He would castigate the congregation for not spending enough time reading the bible or praying. On one occasion he called hellfire down on those who were regular attenders of the church but “couldn’t be bothered” to show up for the “special meetings”.

Still the irony was unsettling. He could preach against going to movies. Against drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes. He would preach against everything. Still, he never preached against gluttony. All these years later I must wonder why that was. I saw him eat on several occasions because I made him several meals. I saw his eating habits. He was the epitome of a glutton. He was never going to preach against a sin he was wrapped up in.

Don’t Be That Guy

I don’t want to be that type of person. I want to adorn the Gospel well because I want to be able to address every sin. Gospel ministry shouldn’t be hindered because I have a pet sin I am holding on to. Sure, it is easy to have hidden sins and preach against those openly. Christian men addicted to pornography can still preach against adultery. However, there is something far more irksome in seeing a man preach against a sin he is clearly wrapped up in.

So yes, I want to adorn the Gospel. I want all areas of my life to be bedecked with the Doctrines of God. I do want my conduct and my appearance to commend the Gospel to the lost I am preaching to. That should be the motivation of each of us. Yet, above that, those of us who feel the call to missions work in our own regions need to be keenly aware of how we look to the world. I am not talking about catering to them, I am talking about how we adorn the Gospel message.

What Is It You Adorn

In whatever way this reaches your heart I am hopeful that it compels you to change. For me it was my weight. I will not settle until I have made the proper changes. For you dear brethren, it may be another area. As I mentioned in a recent article, we often say more with our actions than we do with our words. All I can ask is that you examine yourselves and consider how you adorn the Gospel. Rest assured, you are adorning something. If it isn’t the Gospel, it very well may be something you do not want to consider.

Soli Deo Gloria!

-Todd

Please Stop Inviting the Lost to Worship

“Please Stop Inviting the Lost To Worship…”

…Do Your Duty First…

Well if the title didn’t grab your attention , please stop inviting the lost to worship. I am deadly serious right now. I could not muster any more severity regarding this topic than I am already feeling.

“But Todd,” you ask, “How on earth can you say that?”

I know it seems counter intuitive and certainly counter-cultural to modern evangelicalism. The apparent end all and be all of Relationship Evangelism is to penultimately invite someone to “church”. If you don’t invite them to “church” how will they ever hear the Gospel?

This topic is near and dear to my heart for many reasons. A conversation I had with several folks on Facebook proved to me just how bad this problem is. I wrote on this topic once before for a different blog; but I felt it necessary to write about it again after that conversation. My desire is to bring my experiences to bear on the topic.  I want to convince you to stop inviting people to worship if you know they are lost. I want you to do your part first.

What is it I mean by “your part”?

I mean that your part is evangelizing the lost. I know this sounds so straight forward and simple, but I am often surprised by those who complicate it. Inviting the lost to worship isn’t preaching the Gospel to them.

…The Excuses…

You can argue this point all you want. I have heard every objection and justification…

“I don’t know how to answer their questions…”

“What if the person points out contradictions and I can’t explain it?”

“I can’t share the Gospel with my co-workers while I am working. I have to invite them to come to church with me.”

“If I share the Gospel with my neighbors they may get mad and never talk to me again. It’s just easier to invite them to church.”

I could give other excuses that I have heard from many different people in many different congregations. I will give my all-time favorite. “Well we aren’t all called to be evangelists, that’s not my gift, but my pastor sure is gifted that way.”

The reality, as I stated in my first article Evangelical Compromise, is that most Christians have never shared the Gospel with anyone. They are too afraid to do it. Truthfully, it is terrifying. Yet aren’t we called to do hard things that we don’t feel equipped to do.

C.H. Spurgeon, maybe the greatest of all evangelists, called it an irksome task. Ray Comfort of Living Waters calls it “As exciting as root canal.”

This is the crux of the matter. At the end of His earthly ministry Christ leaves the few reaming disciples with a command. His command was to go and preach the Gospel to all creatures.

…What Have We Lost…

Somehow this has been lost to most Christians in the west today. They beg-off by claiming that they preach the Gospel in the context of relationships. They consider this the fulfillment of the great commission. Most often they aren’t preaching the Gospel, the relationship has become paramount. Yet they genuinely desire to see their friends, co-workers, and family members saved.

In that desire they sink their claws into the idea of inviting the lost to worship. They think that inviting a lost person to “church” they would hear the Gospel and believe. This places the burden on the elders to preach evangelistically in any given corporate worship setting.

…The Scopus…

Yes, the Gospel should be present in the content of any sermon. Every sermon should have Christ as its focus. The Reformers called this the Scopus. It is focusing on Christ and His accomplishments that the Church needs to hear every worship service.

However, it is that completed work, that elders need to focus on in every worship service; not the lsot. They need to teach what is in accord with sound doctrine every week. (see Titus 2 for more on this) Elders should strive to prepare and preach sermons that are geared toward believers. These sermons are meant to draw believers into a deeper understanding of God. Believers should be compelled to in-depth worship of the God-head.

Unbelieving can’t comprehend true worship. These types of sermons are profoundly spiritual, and therefore spiritually discerned. The Gospel must be interwoven throughout such a sermon creating a beautiful redemptive tapestry for the believer to be blanketed with. Yet, the unbeliever will only behold such a work the same way I look at modern art today, with utter and complete confusion.

“Yet, the unbeliever will only behold such a work the same way I look at modern art today, with utter and complete confusion…”

…Please Stop Inviting the Lost to Worship…

Therefore, when we settle for by-passing the preaching of the Gospel to our friends, neighbors, and co-workers; we are doing them a great disservice. Frankly it is quite disobedient to the Great Commission. As a dear brother recently said to me (and as a side note he is not personally inclined toward my missions work, very supportive just not inclined), “I finally recognize that we need to actually be about the work of going and preaching the Gospel as we go.”

Romans 10 lays out the formula for what this looks like for us quite succinctly. Please allow me to paraphrase Paul here:

“How can the lost person believe if they have not heard the Gospel?

And how can they hear if you do not preach the Gospel?

But how can you preach if you have not been sent?”

…My Plea…

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, that is the SOP (standard operating procedure) for evangelistic work. Sheep make sheep!

This may look different for each person. All of us had better be preaching the Gospel in the context of the relationships we have. Whether at work, in our neighborhoods, in our friendships, or in our families. Still others of us, like me, feel compelled to localized missions work. For me this is on top of preaching the Gospel in the context of relationships.

The narrowly defined point of the Great Commission is that we are to all be about the work of Christ. Don’t you recognize the urgency of the command? Your elders are to send you. So, please stop inviting the lost to worship. That is until you faithfully proclaim the Gospel to them first.

Missions Exist Because Worship Doesn’t

If God is drawing that person to Himself through Christ, they will respond to the Gospel call in God’s timing.  Yet how sweet that moment would be if as you preached the Gospel, God would save them. Then they will join you in singing praise to the One Who purchased them. It is blasphemous for the lost to lift-up their voice to sing songs of praise that fall on deaf ears. It is wrong for them to think that going to “church”, puts them in good standing with God.

“The center of Christian life is the worship of God…”

No, my beloved Christian reader, please stop and think on this.  Please do not invite lost people to worship. As John Piper so sweetly said, “Missions exist because worship doesn’t.”

Soli Deo Gloria!

-Todd

What Does Your Lifestyle Say About How You View Christ?

Personal Confession

I often ask myself what does your lifestyle say about how you view Christ? I need to be honest about some things. As painfully obvious as this is to others; I am far from being a perfect example of what it means to be a Christian. Because this has been the case for many years, it became especially burdensome to me as after my true conversion.

I have made a wreck of my testimony in far too many ways. Much of that before I came to saving faith in Christ in February of 2004. I still bear the burden of that guilt and the lasting scars of sinful self-centeredness of my false-convert days.

Sadly, even after my conversion, I struggled with making wise decisions. Living as if I was living to the Lord was hard for me. The worst place for me in this regard has been owing people/businesses money. Recently I’ve taken steps to remedy these situations and even to apologize to those I have slighted in the past.

It would be so easy for me to make excuses here and claim unforeseen circumstances. However I would be lying to you and to myself. I just can’t do that to you or to my God. I welcome any questions about this issue please Contact Me.

Personal Shame

Some days the burdens and the shame of my past sins are overwhelming to me. Considering some of the sinful activities I took part in I am thankful that God was merciful to.  I am thankful He spared me from being tossed in jail and having a criminal record.

On the surface no one would have ever suspected I was that bad. I lived a morally upright life in the sight of most of society. Yet, I knew just how bad much of what I was in secret really was. I can think of at least four occasions when I could have been arrested and jailed. This is a sobering thought to me. There are still moments when I fear who and what I was will be dragged into the public light.

Scripture tells us that our sins will find us out. As I recently heard, it is because sin wants to be known more than we want it to stay hidden. Sin relishes being exposed because it loves destroying us. Sin loves to tell lies about how we truly view Christ.

No Condemnation

I know that Christ has promised me those sins are forgiven. I know there is no condemnation for me because of His completed work (Romans 8). Yet, I hate who and what I was then. At times I often hate who I still am having striven to be different since God so graciously saved me.

I know I am called to the mission field in my region. I struggle to be obedient to that call for the shame of how I have failed. It was Spurgeon I believe who said, “Let the hypocrite at home walk out his door to preach the Gospel and then keep going until he comes to the next village, and once there let him remain silent.”

This is how I perceive myself and what runs through my mind nearly every time I step up to preach the Gospel. It confronts me when I confront a fellow Image Bearer. There is no place that this burden rests on me more than in my own hometown.

My mind cries out to me over and over that there may be those within the sound of my voice that knew me then or even know me now. Yes, I am burdened by a guiltiness that things in my past and even in my contemporary life will tell untruths about Christ. I am concerned that the ways in which I have failed sinfully will cause embarrassment to the name of my savior.

The Challenge 

Yet, if you will allow, I want to ask you dear reader, please be perfectly candid with yourself.  What does your lifestyle say about how you view Christ? I am not asking you if you know the Gospel message. I am asking about how you live. About how you conduct yourself. About what that says about the God you claim to love. Many Christians like to ask, “If it were illegal to be a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict you?” I am not asking that.

Instead, consider this. Every employer expects us to be on time for work. The employee who is consistently or chronically late for work is not just failing their employer, they are communicating to their fellow co-workers and everyone around them that they have a dim view of their employer.

What about the man who claims to love his wife and children?  Perhaps he is so invested in his work that he is never home to spend time with them? Is he not communicating to his friends and family and co-workers a clear message about how he views his family? His lifestyle makes it clear that he does not cherish them.

Perhaps it is the woman with a family and she insist she loves them. Yet with no notice or care she abandons her husband and children to pursue that which she thinks is best for her.  She leaves her them struggling to understand what caused her to leave. Based on her life choices would any of us believe that she loves them having left them in a lurch?

What Does Your Lifestyle Say About How You View Christ?

Do you tell your co-workers and friends that you are a Christian and that you love Christ? Would they know that by how you treat His Bride? How do you speak about those who are in your local church? What things do you say about them to others?

Are your actions towards the local church befitting being a member of the Bride of Christ? Have you abandoned them for selfish reasons or because you feel they no longer can meet your needs? If you have, what does that tell those observing you about how you really feel about your local church? You have given Christ numerous reasons to send you away. Yet He doesn’t. In fact, He has promised to never leave you nor forsake you.

What of Your Worship

What about worship? Does worship take a top priority in your life? I am not asking about singing hymns or worship songs in your car as you travel from place to place. I am not asking about praying or bible reading. All those things are acts of worship, but they are not what I am asking about.

How serious are you about gathering together with your local church for corporate worship? Are you on time? Do you prepare your heart and mind for corporate worship the night before? Do you plan accordingly so that you are able to enter the gathering place with plenty of time to settle yourself and your family and so that you are not a distraction to others? Again, what does your lifestyle say about how you view Christ?

What Does The Bible Teach US

Jesus told us that the second greatest commandment is to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Later in the New Testament God tells us not to look out for own interest but especially for the interest of others. We are to consider them as more important than ourselves. This means that we are to love others in such an exceeding way that our own preferences and desires take a distant third place to theirs.

Will others know that they are more important to you then you are to yourself by being timely for worship? I dare say our lifestyles show more respect and reverence for our employers than they do for our God. It say the same of other believers. We would not dream of being late for work. Consistent failure here would anger our employers and we would lose our jobs.

Abusing God’s Grace

Still, many of us make God’s grace an excuse to treat corporate worship with a lightness. This would see us judged if God were to exact justice for how poorly we planned for the gathering. We treat our Savior as a passive and understanding friend. We do not view Him as the Sovereign Lord that He is when one time a week we cannot put aside our own desires long enough to be to worship on time.

What about how you care for what God has given you? As a Christian you should recognize that everything that you have comes from the abundant providence of God. This means that your house or apartment should be neat and clean. How you take care of those things displays a lifestyle that appreciates what God has provided. Do you have a focus on being  a good steward?

I will tell you the same for your property and land. Do you let your yard become overgrown with weeds and brambles? Do you allow trash to build up outside cluttering God’s gifts to you? Therefore, the people who own Christ as King recognize that keeping up with the yard work and not allowing clutter to gather in their yard shows not mere appreciation for what God has provided, but an extravagant thankfulness for His extravagant loving grace.

My Plea

My dear readers when people know that you are a Christian and they see that you do not keep a neat house or a pleasant lawn or property they will understand just how dimly you look on God’s lavish beneficence. Your lifestyle tells others that you take Christ for granted. That is why I ask you to think about what your lifestyle says about how you view Christ.

Christian what of your work ethic? God has gone to great lengths to communicate to us that work was not merely the aftereffect of the fall. It wasn’t just the subsequent curse that fell on Adam and Eve and their descendants. Work was part of perfect creation in the Garden. In Genesis God directed Adam to care for and oversee the garden and tend to it. It was only after the fall that work became burdensome and toilsome. Because of this how do you approach your work?

It is not being said that every shift you work should be done with overjoyed singing and dancing. Do you work as to the Lord? Remember that in First Corinthians God has told us that whatever it is we do we are to do it to His glory. This should be how we approach our work.

This is applicable to the stay-at-home mom. To the young man or woman just entering the workforce. And to the grizzled factory worker nearing retirement. No matter your work, short of working in a sinful occupation, you should recognize that occupation as a gift of God’s abundant providence. Recognize that He is providing for you and work with all your gusto to His glory.

Wrapping It Up

The reformer Martin Luther said this about work and what it communicates about how we view God, “The cobbler does not glorify His God by making shoes with little crosses on them. He glorifies God by making the best shoes he can make.”

So what does your lifestyle say about how you view Christ?

I could go on with examples to drive my intent home. It want your conscience be pricked. So, if you feel I am singling you out, so be it. As one wise Christian once said, “When you throw a rock into a pack of dogs the one that yelps is the one that was hit.”

As I wrote this I found myself often pricked by my own words, so be it. God is not only good when he comforts us with kindness. He is equally as good when He sends someone to rebuke us. Take these things to heart and where it applies to you. Think on it and look to Christ for your guidance. Was there ever one who knew more about the lavish grace of the God-head than He? Yet look at all He endured for the glory of His Father. Remember this as you consider, what your lifestyle says about how you feel about Christ.

Soli Deo Gloria-

Todd

EVANGELICAL COMPROMISE

Evangelical Compromise: The Church’s Problem

This isn’t my first blog post, not by a long shot. I wouldn’t say I have been prolific in the past, but I have written enough. A dear brother in Christ, Rob, one of the members of my board of oversight, told me I need to blog more often. So, here it is; my first blog post under the heading the ministry. I want to jump in and make sure I grab your attention from the outset. I want to talk about the great evangelical compromise.

Evangelical Compromise

For years, well since I first got saved in February of 2004, I have been fighting what seems to be an uphill battle when it comes to evangelism. Sadly, I have not always fought this battle with patience and long-suffering. People in the “church” simply don’t understand what it is. That isn’t to say that no one understands, but by-and-large, the clear majority, upwards of 97%, believe evangelism is what they do by living their Christianity out in front of their friends, relatives and co-workers. They have taken Peter’s words “always be ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within you” to a conclusion that I just don’t think we should make. However, is this evangelical compromise? I think evidence shows that it is. It is just waiting to be diagnosed. 

There is this perception that we are to conduct ourselves in such a way that people will want to hear our testimony and about Jesus; and that is how you share the Gospel. While that passage is true (it is Scripture after all), Peter wasn’t trying to develop some new evangelistic methodology where you go to work and do a stellar job, or keep your yard nice and neat, to prompt Gospel conversations. Peter was commending living so that lost people would notice that we are different and inquire as to why. This may very well open the door to the proclamation of the Gospel; but it isn’t a passage meant to build a model for how we do evangelism, it is more a command toward holy living; especially in the face of persecution.

The Biggest Problem

The biggest problem with the contemporary model of lifestyle or relationship evangelism in Evangelicalism is that it forgets that many lost people live outwardly moral lives and work hard at their jobs thereby making them indistinguishable from their purported Christian neighbors. I recently had a conversation with a man in my region that exposes why Relationship Evangelism is failing. I met this fine fellow “John” while I was at the local county fair holding a cross that reads “Are You Ready?” and handing out tracts. Now “John” made it clear that he was watching me. He had a somewhat inquisitive look on his face as he stared in my direction from about ten yards away. “John” wasn’t going to approach me, so I beckoned to him and handed him a million-dollar bill Gospel tract.

This allowed me to strike up a conversation with “John” and led to him asking me where I am from. When I identified my hometown, he stated “Well that is a pretty “christianized” town.”  There you have it friends, “John” in one sentence summed it up nicely. The problem is John and I had very different takes on what it means to be “christianized”. John meant it to be a positive and I just don’t see it that way.

Taking It At Face Value

Clearly “John”, much like most of the western Christian world, takes everyone at face value when they say they are Christian. I don’t, and none of us should. Most people in my region consider themselves Christian, but they aren’t. Furthermore, they attribute their work ethic and overall nice demeanor and general morality to God while not being truly born again. This means that while they live next to you or work alongside of you they are not going to notice that you are living and working any differently than they.

Moreover, they may outperform you in any number of areas. Just because you refuse to swear or curse while on the job doesn’t mean you are going to be asked about the hope that lies within you. I speak from example when I tell you that most often this just gets you labeled as the odd man out. Tragically, there are many professing Christians that have very poor work ethics and are a scourge to their neighborhoods when it comes to how they take care of their property and children.

Where The Church Nosedives

I recently read a book by a Christian author that had the intent of encouraging churches to evangelize. Overall it was a decent book, but it fell greatly flat in several places. Furthermore, in one case it nosedived like an engine-less 747. The author was a huge proponent of lifestyle evangelism and building that into the culture of the local church.

In one chapter he suggested that we should ask permission to share the Gospel with the person we are in a relationship with. Yes. You read that correctly, ask permission to share the Gospel with someone we know to be lost. This is utterly foolish and irresponsible and much like “John’s” statement above, this speaks to the overall problem with lifestyle evangelism. Lifestyle Evangelism places the emphasis on the relationship and values it over the Glory of God.

Missing The Forest For The Trees

In a church that I was a member of, the senior teaching elder/pastor was enthralled with lifestyle evangelism. He saw it as the ultimate model for advancing the Gospel into the world. This was so much a part of who he was that he took it to the Nth degree. In one case he invested upwards of a year visiting a local restaurant with his wife when their favorite server was working. They went back again and again and again, waiting for just the right time to start to tell her about Jesus.

Eventually this young lady and her boyfriend appeared to have come to Christ in repentance and faith. This sounds like a success story, and time may show that it is. However (isn’t there always a however?) this is the only means of evangelism that is fostered in that body. My concern with this and with any church that fosters lifestyle evangelism over genuine early church model evangelism  is that people are lazy. They will look for excuses to never step out of their comfort zones. They have already bought into evangelical compromise. 

Today’s Churchmen

Today’s churchmen are convinced that they are preaching the Gospel to their friends, family and co-workers by living upright lives. I cannot count the number of times people have quoted “Always preach the Gospel and when necessary use words” to me. This oft quoted statement,attributed to Francis of Assisi, is the magic incantation of the “Gospel-less Christian”. The one who cannot bear the thought of ruining their reputation or relationships. One Christian from the aforementioned church, told me specifically that he values his job and friendships too much to share the Gospel. One of the elders of this same local church stood up to show how to present the Gospel in thirty seconds and his presentation was “I just want to invite you into my joy in Christ.” That isn’t the Gospel and it doesn’t even come close. This is problematic on a small scale, when compounded exponentially across the western “church” it becomes a pandemic. Furthermore, it highlights the illness of evangelical compromise.

It is churchmen like this that are the fruit of the problem. Moreover, the longer that evangelical compromise goes on, the more churchmen like this will show up.

Christian Laziness

Yet I am convinced that there is a deeper problem with churches that encourage lifestyle evangelism. What could that be? Is it the laziness of Christians and their love for comfort here in the USA? No, that is a concern but not the one I am thinking of. Is it a lack of Gospel saturated minds that cannot clearly articulate what the Gospel is apart from “Inviting people into my joy in Jesus”? Nope. As bad as that is, it isn’t the biggest of problems. So, what is my biggest concern? Elders and pastors that encourage or promote lifestyle evangelism over and above Biblical evangelism are putting the members at risk for compromise. These types of elders are a symptom of evangelical compromise.

A church where the senior pastor models this type of evangelism is telling his congregants that they need to spend inordinate amounts of time with unconverted God-hating sinners. Spending that kind of time with the unconverted in their environments, partaking in their activities, in-order-to model Christ to them is dangerous. Eventually, someone will compromise. A former alcoholic will start hanging old friends with the intention of telling them about Christ. How often does one do this before they can “earn the right to share the Gospel” someone? Remember the old adage that bad company corrupts good morals? You should, it’s from the bible.

“Christians” Behaving Badly

I will give an anecdotal example of what this compromise looks like. One of the places that I like to go to evangelize is outside of a strip club in my region. All I do is stand there with my cross and wait for people to show up. This eventually allows me to hand out tracts and start conversations. Of course, many people have their consciences pricked by the truth, but I am always peaceful and pleasant. Many of those who object to my presence are professed Christians. They are a sign of a deeper problem. Yet, they also are a sign of deeply rooted evangelical compromise.

After several months of conducting myself peacefully and above board I was approached by the elders of the church. It seems that a local Vineyard “church” had approached one of the elders. The Vineyard expressed frustration with my presence and my methodology. They believed that my presence with the cross was a stumbling block to their ministry.

What was their ministry you may ask? They sent women from their congregation into the strip club to befriend the strippers. Why? In the hope of eventually “sharing Jesus” with them. Yes, you read that right. They sent women from their church into a strip club to befriend strippers as they stripped. This is tantamount to having one of your men go to the filming of a pornographic video. You send him hoping he can tell people about Jesus while he is there. Why not do one if you are doing the other? Isn’t that what evangelical compromise produces?

When The Church Picks The Wrong Team

So, the elders spoke about the complaint. They directed me to stop. Why? For the sake of the relationship with the Vineyard “church” and the reputation of their church. I could no longer take a cross. I could no longer use video if I wanted to be associated with the church. (This opens a different can of worms that I may address in the future.) The relationships became paramount; the end was building the relationship and making the Gospel appealing through their kindness. They wanted to be popular and well liked, yet another symptom of evangelical compromise.

The elders of my former church were keen on this, and keen on the reputation of their church, but not from the Hebrews kind of way. Hebrews tells the believer to live a holy life to not be an embarrassment to the elders of the local church. Furthermore, don’t bring shame on the name of Christ. This means that elders are to watch over the local congregation for their good conduct. Someone that preaches the Gospel to the lost in hard places isn’t an embarrassment to the local church. Moreover, he certainly isn’t bringing shame on the name of Christ. (I have hundreds of videos that demonstrate that I may not always do it perfectly, but I do it faithfully and with humility most of the time.) That person may be a thorn in the side of the compromised church, but they are not an embarrassment. And they certainly aren’t driving people away from God.

Hindering A Good Reputation

Indeed, what hinders the local church from having a good reputation is the failure of the body to evangelize biblically. Penn Jillette of the famous magic duo Penn and Teller has a video out there on the interwebz. In this video he talks about meeting a Christian after one of his shows several years ago. Penn is an avowed and dogmatic atheist. In this video he commends the Christian man for giving him a bible. Moreover he is touched by the man expressing his desire to see Penn turn to Christianity. Penn then goes on to castigate Christians who fail to proselytize. He raises the valid point about failing to preach the Gospel to the lost. Charles Haddon Spurgeon said, “If you have no desire to see souls saved you are not saved yourself. Be sure of that!”

Spurgeon was a prophet, he saw evangelical compromise coming. He was fighting against the Great Downgrade even then.

In Conclusion

This is the problem of the compromise that comes with lifestyle or relationship evangelism. Sooner or later you will be sucked into their sin or you will come to cherish the relationship over the Gospel of God. The Gospel needs to be front loaded into every relationship that you are seeking to build. They need to know from the outset that your goal is their conversion. This can be done in many ways, but it needs to be clear. Let the Gospel inform and grow the relationship. If you can’t do that let the relationship end before you become attached to it in an idolatrous way.

You can read more about this topic by downloading a free copy of the book Apocity written by my dear brother George Alvarado. It will affirm some of you and still others it will rattle. However, isn’t it good for us as Christians to be rattled from time to time? We should want to avoid evangelical compromise.

Soli Deo Gloria-

Todd