EvangelismMany courses like Dale Carnegie teach students how to speak well in public. They know that effective communication is a key to persuasion and success in every effort. Even though he’s worried with the correct teaching of the gospel within the church, Paul makes it a point to speak about the mission to proclaim the gospel to those outside of Christ:

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer everyone.
Colossians 4:6 NET

Verses 2-6 deal with evangelism. Evangelism is not mere example in life. If it were, nobody would understand the message. Evangelism is speaking, and speaking well, about Christ.

We all need training in speaking. How to speak more persuasively, more effectively? Christian training happens in practice, daily, in the effort to constantly improve and to never leave off speaking a word and answering inquirers.

 

A Pew Forum poll reveals attitudes of evangelical leaders in the two great divisions of the world. Their attitudes are quite the contrast.

In addition, most leaders in the Global South (58%) say that evangelical Christians are gaining influence on life in their countries. By contrast, most leaders in the Global North (66%) say that, in the societies in which they live, evangelicals are losing influence. U.S. evangelical leaders are especially downbeat about the prospects for evangelical Christianity in their society; 82% say evangelicals are losing influence in the United States today, while only 17% think evangelicals are gaining influence. via National Post.

What might be the percentages among Christians in the Lord’s church in those two areas? That would be a fascinating study.

One American evangelical leader says they don’t have greater influence in society because they worried more with making converts than with making disciples. I’ve heard brethren say the same thing of us.

American churches of Christ are full of baptized people who have yet to follow Jesus. Discipline is nigh to non-existent. Immorality is rampant. Adultery is tolerated. Church baseball gets more time than evangelism. The old criticism about shepherds being the board of directors is still true in many places. Preachers are pastors, and evangelism mostly consists of dragging people to hear Sunday sermons. Preachers “preach for” churches; that’s the very language they use, and no one thinks it strange. Nobody has much idea any more of what the mission of the church is, so just about anything gets pitched under that umbrella, from orphanages to disaster relief. Church attendance is the gauge for membership in good standing. If you don’t have a building, you’re not a viable church.

Is this a caricature? Yes. But accurate enough, in enough places, that it sticks. You can consider it a missionary rant, but hold it up against your congregation and do the comparison.

Why doesn’t the Lord’s church have more influence in society?

Because the salt has lost its saltiness.

“You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost its flavor, with what will it be salted? It is then good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under the feet of men.” –Jesus Christ, Matthew 5:13 NET