Evangelism in the Local Church

This is our first Friday of the month look at one of the booklets that are provided by The Committee on Christian Education (CCE) of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

Today’s booklet is, Evangelism in the Local Church.  There are a few copies of this booklet in the bookcase at the church building in the foyer if you would like a hard copy.  This booklet is not available to read online at this time.  We will also be using this booklet in our Apologetics class that starts September 27th.  

John Shaw, the author of the booklet, is the general secretary of the Committee on Home Missions and Church Extension for the OPC.  Shaw begins by stating clearly that Christ gave the responsibility of evangelism to the church.  He writes, “This booklet has a very specific aim: to describe the primary role of the local church in the ministry of evangelism.”

Paul writes in 1 Timothy 3:15 that the Church is a “pillar and buttress of the truth.”  Shaw writes, “What does it mean that the church is the pillar and buttress of the truth?  The church as an institution is uniquely given the responsibility to hold up the glory, weight, and beauty of the truth of the gospel for the world to see.”

It is through the church and the ministry of the local church and the preaching of the Gospel that many will be saved.  In fact, Paul argues that God appoints preachers and preaching as the primary channel for the world to know Christ.

Shaw brings up an important point that is often overlooked in modern evangelical thought.  In the Bible you don’t see an emphasis on personal or decisional evangelism (the idea of getting someone to make a decision for Christ, separated from being involved in a church).  Instead we see God drawing people into His church.  “Do we believe that the church uniquely carries the message of salvation that people need to hear?  Then we should invite and welcome people into our local congregations, trusting that God will work through the church he designed and called.” (Shaw)

Shaw then divides the remainder of the booklet into two sections:

The Character of Church Life:  “The pastor, along with the elders and deacons, has a particular responsibility for evangelism….Members are not called to preach or even to do the work of an evangelist, yet they are still called to participate in the evangelistic endeavors of the church.” (Shaw)  It is through normal church life that God grows and builds his church.

We need to be:  1) Committed to Corporate Worship.  2) Committed to Word and Sacrament.    3) Committed to Prayer.  I don’t want to give away all of the booklet so you enjoy reading it, but I cannot pass up a great comment here on #3.  “…we should pray for a great harvest in our communities, for that is a request that echoes the Scriptures.” (Shaw)  4) Committed to Fellowship (or Hospitality) and Mercy.  5)  Committed to Testimony.

The second section of the booklet focuses on: The Character of Pastoral Ministry.  “As the Apostle Paul proclaims, Necessity is laid upon me.  Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! (1 Cor. 9:16)” (Shaw)

What should characterize gospel ministry?  1) Confidence  2) Courage  3) Conviction  4) Clarity  5) Compassion

Shaw concludes his message on evangelism with a call to faithfulness.  We need faith congregations and faithful ministers to do the task of evangelism.  He also has a page of recommended resources to read.  I invite you to join us for our study of apologetics as we focus in on how we can be more committed to give a proper testimony to others of the hope within us.