Tag Archives: Evangelism

Circus or Evangelism?

 

A recent article in Credo Magazine sparked my thinking about a troubling trend in American Evangelical churches, namely the culture of entertainment.  The article in reference, Church Gimmicks: Has the Church Sold it’s Soul to Consumerism was written by Brian Cosby and in it he highlights several of the concerns I share with the direction that the local church is taking her mission.  Cosby writes, “Following America’s lead, churches around the globe are spending through the roof trying to attract the greatest number of people into their worship gatherings.  Success is the name of the church-growth game.”  It’s significant here to note that his statement says that the Church is following America’s lead.  Not the other way around.  No doubt, America is an entertainment-driven society, and following the success of this and desire to meet people’s entertainment-thirst, the Church has acquiesced, bending to meet the carnal desires of carnal people.  Observe the following:

“An evil is in the professed camp of the Lord, so gross, so brazen in its impudence, that the most shortsighted of spiritual men can hardly fail to notice it. During the past few years it has developed at an abnormal rate, ever for evil. It has worked like leaven until now the whole lump ferments. Look which way you may, its presence makes itself manifest. There is little if anything to choose between Church, Chapel, or Mission Hall. However they may differ in some respects, they bear a striking likeness in the posters which disfigure their notice boards. Amusement for the people is the leading article advertised by each. If any of my readers doubt my statement, or think my utterance too sweeping, let them take a tour of inspection and study “the announcements for the week” at the doors of the sanctuaries of the neighborhood; or let them read the religious advertisements in their local papers. I have done this again and again, until the hideous fact has been proved up to the hilt, that “amusement” is ousting “the preaching of the Gospel” as the great attraction. “Concerts,” “Entertainments,” “Dramatic Performances,” are the words honoured with biggest type and most startling colors. The Concert is fast becoming as much a recognized part of church life as the Prayer Meeting, and is already, in most places, far better attended.”

The quotation above wasn’t from the aforementioned article by Cosby and it wasn’t penned by an anti-entertainment American pastor.  It was written in the late 19th century by Archibald Brown, protégé of Charles Spurgeon and eventual heir to his congregation at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London.  Brown goes on to address the issue in his own day which sounds remarkable similar to the entertainment blight on churches today, “’Providing recreation for the people’ will soon be looked upon as a necessary part of Christian work, and as binding upon the Church of God, as though it were a Divine command, unless some strong voice be raised which will make themselves heard.”

circus_churchThis is especially true as it relates to evangelism.  Far too often, churches neglect the God-ordained means of proclamation of His Word in evangelism, striving to be “seeker-friendly” by employing various methods of entertainment.  Cosby writes, “If God has already provided the ordinary means of growing in grace as we find in His Word, why do we think that we have the right or the greater wisdom to invent new ways through entertainment-driven, success-oriented worship and ministry?”

In evangelism, the anything-goes model for reaching people has ring masterbeen the go to strategy for some time.  Typically, this involves an outreach of sorts that provides free food and entertainment for the public with the intention (sometimes) of introducing the church to its local community and at least verbally stating an intention of sharing the Gospel.  Perhaps the motivation and intentions are pure.  Perhaps there is a genuine desire to engage people in their context and community and show them the love of Christ.  Why then do we resort to methods that the Bible no knows nothing of?  Were Christ and His disciples less compassionate to the people because they did not set up a carnival in Jerusalem’s center?  Surely not, as Christ is recorded as weeping over Jerusalem and her children.  Speaking to methods of entertainment, Archibald Brown engages the issue from a biblical perspective

“providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in Holy Scripture as one of the functions of the church. What her duties are, will come under our notice later on. At present it is the negative side of the question that we are dealing with. Now, surely, if our Lord had intended His church to be the caterer of entertainment, and so counteract the god of this world—He would hardly have left so important a branch of service unmentioned. If it is Christian work, why did not Christ at least hint it? “Go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature,” is clear enough. So would it have been, if He had added, “and provide amusement for those who do not relish the Gospel.” No such addendum, however, is to be found, nor even an equivalent for such, in any one of our Lords utterances. This style of work did not seem to occur to His mind. Then again, Christ, as an ascended Lord, gives to His Church specially qualified men for the carrying on of His work, but no mention of any gift for this branch of service occurs in the list. “He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers—for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,” Where do the “public entertainers” come in? The Holy Spirit is silent concerning them, and his silence is eloquence.

If “providing recreation” be a part of the Church’s work, surely we may look for some promise to encourage her in the toilsome task. Where is it? There is a promise that, “My Word shall not return unto Me void.” There is the heart-rejoicing declaration concerning the Gospel, “it is the power of God unto salvation.” There is the sweet assurance for the preacher of Christ that, whether he is successful or not as the world judges success—that he is “sweet savor unto God.” There is the glorious benediction for those whose testimony, so far from amusing the world, rouses its wrath: “Blessed are you when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad—for great is your reward in heaven! For so persecuted they the prophets who were before you.” Were the prophets persecuted because they amused the people—or because they refused to? The Gospel of amusement has no martyr roll. In vain does one look for a promise from God—for providing recreation for a godless world. That which has no authority from Christ, no provision made for it by the Spirit, no promise attached to it by God—can only be a lying deceit, when it lays claim to be “a branch of the work of the Lord”.

church-circusPractically, the methods of evangelism, even entertainment-driven worship services, seldom if ever produce the intended result, that is if numerical attendance is not the sole measure of success.  The question becomes how many attended rather than how were we faithful with the message of Christ’s gospel.  Cosby adds, “In fact, one of the most frequent questions a pastor receives is, “How many did you have in worship?” or “How big is your church?”  It seems like buildings, bodies, and budgets sideline Christ crucified, a stumbling block and offense.”  Jesse Johnson, writing at the Cripplegate, wrote recently that, “One of the biggest mistakes pastors make in the area of evangelism is trying to measure their church’s faithfulness to the great commission by the number of (or attendance at) outreach events. This makes evangelism a guilt-laden endeavor, and also unnecessarily weds it to programs which in all likelihood don’t produce converts anyway.”  Archibald Brown concurs that the results of such entertainment-driven methods seldom if ever produces fruit and even if the slightest fruit may be found it isn’t an endorsement for the methods:

“Lastly, the mission of amusement utterly falls to effect the desired end among the unsaved; but it works havoc among the young converts. Were it a success, it would be none the less wrong. Success belongs to God. Faithfulness to His instructions is my only responsibility

Nonetheless, providing amusements for the people is a contemptible failure. Let us see the converts who have been won by amusement. Let the harlots and the drunkards, to whom a dramatic entertainment has been God’s first link in the chain of their conversion stand forth. Let the careless and the scoffers who have cause to thank God that the Church has relaxed her spirit of separation and met them half-way in their worldliness, speak and testify. Let the husbands, wives, and children, who have been saved by church amusements, tell out their joy. Let the weary, heavy-laden souls who have found peace through a pleasing concert, no longer keep silence. Let the men and women who have found Christ through the reversal of apostolic methods declare the same, and show the greatness of Paul’s blunder when he said, “I determined not to know anything among you—but Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” There is neither voice nor any to answer. The failure is on a par with the folly—and as huge as the sin! Out of thousands with whom I have personally conversed, the mission of amusement has claimed no convert!”

I can personally attest to the same conclusion that Brown draws.  In fact, not only have I not seen fruit from these methods employed, and not only have I seen the negative effects on young “converts” (which I use loosely),  but the typical entertainment, carnival-like atmosphere is wholly inadequate, dare I say inappropriate, for sharing the Gospel.  Souls are at stake, yet we are content to entertain them for two hours straight to hell and hope to cast a net under them at the last minute of the event.  They’ve been baited with entertainment, now it’s time to pull the switch and present the gospel.  Carnal frivolity never provides the seriousness necessary to present the dire consequences of someone’s impending future facing the holy wrath of God.  For some reason a break between messy games and refilling ones plate at the barbeque does not soften the sinner’s heart to understand their need for the Gospel.

What then is a church supposed to do in order to evangelize their surrounding communities?

  1. First, we must remember that biblical evangelism is never divorced from the proclamation of the Gospel.  Ever.
  2. God has ordained both the means (the Gospel) AND the methods (proclamation); anything else is shaky ground at best and sinful at worst.
  3. The Holy Spirit is the often missing ingredient in most church outreaches (which are not inherently sinful or wrong in their ideals).  Largely, dependence is on the extravagance of the event and not the power of the Spirit of God to empower and embolden the people to carry out the work of evangelism and His work to soften and prepare the hearts of those to whom the Gospel will reach.

evangelismEvangelism can be a “cold-call” and even function in an outreach environment, if properly focused on the Gospel.  However, more often than not, evangelism occurs through pre-existing relationships or contexts of believers.  If a church is living out the Great Commission, evangelism is not necessarily a ramped up event, it is the practical outworking of believers in their daily lives within the spheres of influence that God has placed them.  That may be evangelism of a stranger on the street.  It may be evangelism of a coworker or neighbor.  It may mean that God requires you to change contexts and become a missionary in a foreign land or your own city.  Regardless, evangelism cannot be bait and switch or the product of manipulation by methods of entertainment.  It must be proclamation of the Word of God such that it exposes the sinfulness of the sinner while magnifying the holiness of God and the necessity of Christ.

The Gospel Messenger

Last time we looked at the Gospel, as summarized nicely in Greg Gilbert’s book What is the Gospel, but largely as expounded in Scripture.  We concluded that God, Man, Christ, Response was a helpful outline for discussing the Gospel message as defined by the Bible.  In this post, I want to look at the marks or characteristics of the Gospel messenger that Jesus provides in Matthew 10.  Before beginning, I’d like to point out a helpful book on this subject entitled Marks of the Messenger, which is one of the best books on the evangelist that I’ve read. 

If we are going to look at what Jesus had to say about the characteristics of His Gospel messengers, namely His apostles, we must first look at 3 assumptions for them, and likewise us.  The first assumption is that the Gospel messenger believes the Gospel.  This is beyond simply knowing facts about the Gospel, or Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, but extends much deeper to an actual acceptance of the Gospel facts and a reliance on the sufficiency of Christ’s righteousness and substitutionary atonement on behalf of the sinner.  It is literally placing one’s faith fully and totally in Jesus and relying on Him and Him alone for salvation from sin and the wrath of God. 

Two, the Gospel messenger must be a student of the Gospel.  What’s interesting, as we will see, in Matthew 10 Jesus makes the transition from referring to the twelve as disciples to apostles.  Disciple means learner or student, while apostle means a delegate or messenger sent forth.  If we followed this idea we would see that this chapter marks a transition from learning the Gospel at the side of Jesus to now going forward and proclaiming the Gospel.  Familiar to us is the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19 where Jesus instructs us to go forth and make disciples, or as we just defined, learners.  Of what?  Of Jesus and His Gospel, which is found in God’s Word.  Being a Christian is not a pass to stop learning, but instead should instill a desire and hunger to learn about God.

The third assumption we must make for the messenger of the Gospel is that they live in light of the Gospel.  Now, let me clarify here that I am not saying one is to “live the Gospel”.  The Gospel is a proclamation and is the good news.  It would be quite difficult to live that.  However, Christians are called to walk or live in light of what they believe, namely the Gospel.  This is the proverbial walk matching your talk.

With these three assumptions firmly grounded, let us look at the passage from Matthew 10.

1 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. 2 The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

5 These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. 9 Acquire no gold nor silver nor copper for your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, nor two tunics nor sandals nor a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. 11And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. 12 As you enter the house, greet it. 13 And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.

16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 19 When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22 and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake.  But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.

26 “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth.  I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. 41 The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”

Now there is a lot going on here, but I think it would be most helpful to summarize or list the characteristics that Jesus defines here for the Apostles, and subsequently us, in their corresponding verse(s).

  • Proclaim the Gospel (vs. 7) “And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”
  • Compassion for people (vs. 8 ) “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons.”
  • Pure Motives. Not Gospel Peddlers. (vs. 8-9) You received without paying; give without pay. 9 Acquire no gold nor silver nor copper for your belts
  • Trust God (vs. 10) [Take] “no bag for your journey, nor two tunics nor sandals nor a staff, for the laborer deserves his food.”
  • Proclaimers not Convincers (vs. 14) “And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town.”
  • Be Wise (vs. 16) “so be wise as serpents”
  • Be Pure (vs. 16) “innocent as doves”
  • Be vigilant  (vs. 17-18) “Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles.”
  • Anxiety Free (vs. 19) “When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour.”
  • Persevere (vs. 22) “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”
  • Gospel student (vs. 24-25) “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.  It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master”
  • Boldness (vs. 26) “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.”
  • Faithfulness to the Gospel (vs. 27) “What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.”
  • Fear the Lord, not man (vs. 28) “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
  • Realize value/identity in Christ (vs. 29-31) “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
  • Confess Christ (vs. 32-33) “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”
  • Steadfast (in the face of opposition, even from family/friends)  (vs.  35-37) “For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.  Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
  • Self-Denial (vs. 38-39) “And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

So what’s a person to do with these qualities?  Memorize them?  Strive to attain them?  No, in actuality if we return our focus to the three assumptions that we defined at the beginning, Believe the Gospel, Study the Gospel, Live in light of the Gospel, then these characteristics will be ours.  Surely there will be stronger characteristics than others, and surely in all of this we must rely upon the strength of the Lord and pray to be fit messengers of His Word, but when we saturate ourselves in the Gospel all the characteristics we need to be faithful Gospel messengers will be pervasive in us.

Book Review: Marks of the Messenger

It’s been a pretty busy 2 weeks for me, so I haven’t been able to post with the normal regularity.  I did, however, want to post a brief review of a book I just finished up written by J. Mack Stiles entitled, Marks of the Messenger.  Most books on evangelism tend to either focus on the message or the methods that the evangelist must say or do.  These generally tend to reduce the Gospel message down to a tract-like message or emphasize pragmatic, results driven means of delivering that message, which Stiles says results in “an evangelism that is twisted and deformed.”  In his book, the focus rests squarely on the shoulders of the “messenger”.  Simply put, this is a much needed book.

The last 30-50 years have been highlighted in this country with a surge in emphasizing the Great Commission, particularly overseas.  While no doubt God has done many wondrous works in the sacrificial lives of missionaries in spreading the Gospel, there have also been many well-intentioned, though knowledge lacking, efforts that have presented an incomplete or incorrect Gospel.  In Romans 10:2, referring to his kinsmen of the flesh, Paul says they have “zeal for God, but not according to knowledge”.  This passage seems to best summarize many of the errant missionary efforts that have taken place.  I’ve often wrestled with the question myself, who should be a missionary?  Just anyone who “feels led”?  The young college student who barely has a grasp of the Gospel themselves?  Is anyone just to jump up one day and take off in any direction and wherever they end up is where God was “leading”?  These questions that I had are ones that get answered in this book.  In his first chapter, “Don’t Peddle the Gospel”, Stiles offers the following summary on this zealous approach by asking an important question, “So why have people jumped into action, in this case evangelistic action, before being people of faith?”  To which he offers, “Maybe it’s because they can.  We have not been watchful enough about the conditions of people’s hearts before we ask them to act, because with the right method or program, the condition of a person’s heart isn’t that important.  We have become pragmatists.”  Summarizing this “pragmatic evangelism” Stiles concludes that it counts, “converts, members, programs, but rarely counts faithfulness to the message or the faithfulness of the messenger.”

In his second chapter, “Students of the Message”, Stiles details the importance of Gospel study and understanding the message of evangelism.  This is where I think it’s important to make the distinction about who we send forth as missionaries and evangelists.  While it’s true, every Christian is to be a witness for Christ and share the Gospel, not everyone is adequately equipped with sufficient knowledge of the message they are charged with sharing and this is to their own detriment.  In this chapter we are encouraged to take the time to study and understand the Gospel message to avoid spreading a false Gospel. 

“Don’t assume the Gospel”.  That’s the subtitle to Chapter 3, “On your Guard” and it was probably one of the most helpful points for me in this book.  Stiles begins this chapter by recounting the story of Kevin Roose, a writer posing as a believer at Liberty University who participated in campus activities, Bible studies, prayer meetings, etc. all in research for his book detailing the lives of evangelicals.  In short, he played the part and talked the talk, but it was all an act in an effort to publish his book.  Roose’s story took a profound turn when he met an agnostic on campus and that student confessed that he was not a Christian and said that most people on campus just “assume you are Christian.”  To this Stiles says, assuming the Gospel is the first step in losing the Gospel and he outlines 4 helpful steps. 1) The Gospel is Accepted 2) The Gospel is Assumed 3) The Gospel is Confused 4) The Gospel is Lost.  Assuming is the first step in losing it.  Think about that.  Don’t assume because someone is sitting beside you in Church they are a Christian.  Don’t assume just because a person volunteers to run a Church program or is zealous about overseas missions that they are a believer.  Because if they aren’t, it leads to Gospel confusion, and the next step is the Gospel lost.  This is precisely what is happening overseas and is quite epidemic in our own country.  Depending on the poll you follow, upwards of 83% of Americans identify themselves as “Christian”.  83%!?!  If that were truly the case, wouldn’t we be the most God-fearing, God-honoring, God-loving country on the planet?  But this isn’t the case, as should be evident to anyone, America is on a moral decline.  Why?  Assuming the Gospel.  It’s assumed that 83% are Christians.  It’s assumed that the person next to you in Sunday service is truly a believer.  It’s time to stop assuming the Gospel and start proclaiming the Gospel.

J. Mack Stiles challenges his readers to walk the talk in chapter 4 and in chapter 5 he focuses on an oft-confused aspect of the Gospel, social change.  So many zealous evangelicals today confuse social change, social action, or social justice with the Gospel.  He rightly asserts the following, “For years Christians have separated social action and the gospel message.  Yet to separate the gospel message and social action is to assume that the gospel doesn’t produce social change.  But the gospel brings social change in and of itself.” (emphasis his)  This is where it seems so many “social justice Christians” go awry.  While it’s wrong to leave off the social aspect of Christianity, i.e. helping the poor, needy, orphans, and elderly, it’s equally wrong (arguably even more so!) to leave off the Gospel from social action.  Preaching the Gospel will bring about social change, but preaching social change is Gospel-less and therefore powerless.

In chapter 6 of this book, the author takes time to explain the nature of conversion and its impact in the life of the believer.  In other words, a change will be necessarily brought about by the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer and good spiritual fruit will be the evidence.  While not only describing conversion as a work of God in the hearts of hearers of the Gospel, Stiles points out those man-made methods which are so commonly used to “generate conversion”, apart from God’s work.  Chapter 7 is an important chapter for any faithful witness of the Gospel, namely the required boldness it takes.  J. Mack Stiles offers biblical encouragement for believers to share their faith, centered around Proverbs 29:25 “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.”

In chapter 8, subtitled “Mistaking the World’s love for God’s Love”, Mr. Stiles offers a helpful discussion on God’s love.  Much like what we discussed here in Lady Gaga, Rob Bell, and Misunderstanding the Love of God, this chapter highlights the confusion that so many have concerning God’s love and offers the following helpful warning, “If we only speak of God’s love while forsaking God’s other attributes (such as holiness, righteousness, and justice), we are tailoring God to a popular image, an idol really, and not the God of the Bible.”

In bringing his book to a close, chapter 9 highlights the importance of the Church and the love that Christians are to show to one another.  Interestingly, this chapter included a list of “16 ways to demonstrate love and unity in the Church and in doing so become a healthy evangelist”.  Highlights from this list include the practice of church discipline, discipleship, respect and reverence for the church, prayer, and reading helpful books such as C.J. Mahaney’s Humility (which I have not read, so cannot recommend) and Mark Dever’s  9 Marks of a Healthy Church (which I plan to read and review here).  Stiles concludes his book with a few actions steps for being a healthy evangelist: 1. Body check, i.e. is anything holding you back, 2. Prayer for those who don’t know Christ 3. Plan, i.e. think through where you’ll be what your doing for witnessing opportunities 4. Think through issues 5. Prepare or practice the Gospel in a minute (God, Man, Christ, Response) 6. Get started 7. Gather, i.e. events, Bible study, prayer groups, etc. 8. Serve 9. Speak of Jesus 10. Pursue 11. Invite.

Marks of the Messenger is a short, well-written, and easy to understand book.  Yet it is profound and timely for a generation of Gospel assumers and Gospel confusers.  This is one of those books that should be required reading for all those in ministry, whether it be the Sunday School teacher, the open-air preacher, or the country church pastor.  You can purchase this book by following the Amazon link below or by using the Recommended Reading tab above.

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