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.
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:
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.
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!