The churches in our area recently hosted a community wide event designed to give groceries and other services free of charge to those who were in need. Also, a tent was set up to share the Gospel with those who came. So far, I’m a fan of the event.
Here’s where it went awry for me. In preparing the volunteers who would be sharing the Gospel message we were told to “make as brief as possible, even the ‘Four Spiritual Laws’ might be one too many.” Now I understand that this was said somewhat in jest (or at least I hope so). But the attitude was still very clear: let’s get ‘em in and get ‘em out as quick as possible and claim as many “salvations” as we can.
Is this genuine evangelism? Can the message of Christ’s birth, life, substitutionary atonement and resurrection, with all that this means, truly be reduced to an assembly line presentation in less than two minutes?
Will Metzger writes in Tell the Truth that: “For Paul, the only right method of evangelism was the teaching method. Therefore, scriptural evangelism has extensive – not minimal – instruction as its goal.”
Metzger also points out J.I. Packer’s comment that the gospel was a message of some complexity, needing to be learned before it could be lived by and understood before it could be applied. In other words, it needs to be taught.
Are we cheapening the message of the Gospel by reducing it to a couple of tidy points about how God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life? What about the truth of God’s holiness, the depravity of man, the need for atonement, that atonement’s provision in Christ and on and on?
Not that we need to make the Gospel look like the IRS code or something, but I wonder if we would be struggling so much with problems in the church due to so many unregenerate “members” if we had been a little more diligent on the front end of things.
Here’s to faithful proclamation of “the whole gospel to the whole man.”