What is the aim of evangelism?

20 09 2006

In our bottom-line, results-driven culture it is often quite easy to get caught up and dare I say even frustrated if the sum of our efforts does not consistently equal or exceed our expectations. One area of ministry where any amount of this cultural influence is especially dangerous is evangelism.

Countless churches are tracking “decisions” for Jesus with the statistical fervor that rivals a baseball game box score. If the decisions and baptisms exceed the previous season high, there is celebration, and if there is a drop, there is frustration. This dangerous bleeding of the secular mindset into practical ministry stems from foundational misconceptions about evangelism.

With this said, what is the supreme goal of evangelism? What is the objective of the evangelist?

Many would answer the question with, “that someone would get saved” or “pray the prayer”, or “get baptized”. While these are not to be dismissed or minimized, when we are speaking in terms of the supreme goal of evangelism, make no mistake about it, it is the glory of God.

We know as Christians that everything we do, even the most routine things are to be done to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10.31). We must be consciously aware and guided by this objective even as we proclaim the only message of salvation, as delivered by the only Savior, Jesus Christ.

This is not a matter of theological semantics; rather it is the very heartbeat of the evangelist. We are to understand that God has created the world, including humanity, for his own glory and pleasure (Acts 17.26-27; Col. 1.16). In addition, we understand from Scripture that all who have not been born again are specifically labeled God’s enemies (Rom. 5.10). Those who remain unreconciled and unbelieving are not giving God the glory He deserves, therefore, the purpose of God in creation is not being fulfilled.

So as ambassadors for Christ, we have an objective, that God might be glorified! We long for the glory of God to be magnified in the hearts and lives of all people. “Be exalted above the heavens, O God; let Your glory be above all the earth” (Ps. 57.5). This mindset is pivotal and it is fleshed out in ministry in terms of how we do evangelism.

If we regarded it as our job and main priority to produce converts, defining success by numbers rather than content then it would not be long before our methods become pragmatic and manipulative. However, if w remind ourselves that it is not us but God that does the saving we will be encouraged by the goodness and sovereignty of God. To guard ourselves against unbiblical methodologies we must take to heart the clear statements of Scripture and endeavor to apply them. Salvation is all of God (Jn. 6.44), it is he that “caused us to be born again” (1 Pet.1.3), no amount of human striving, neither on the part of the sinner nor the evangelist can bring about the miracle of regeneration; the “stats” are not ours but God’s.

Therefore, we are concerned with faithfulness, which is rooted in both the action and the message of evangelism. So we speak Christ, boldly, compassionately, prayerfully, truthfully, consistently and urgently in the sight of God.

Your evangelistic batting average is 1.000 when you can proclaim with the Psalmist, “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to Your name give glory, because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth” (Ps. 115.1).

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7 responses

20 09 2006
javaguy

Good insight. I think there is much that we could do differently as a church and individual believers if we would focus on simply glorifying God. Playing games with Christianity may get people excited, but it rarely draws our focus where it should be. When a person gets saved, the angels rejoice and that would be quite enough for me.

20 09 2006
Jim

Amen! I love hearing this reminder to evangelize for the purpose of glorifying God! So often Christians ask me to justifiy my style of evangelism by the number of converts I have. Yet, I must remind them that I don’t want to convert people to myself, but to Christ. It seems that many do their version of evangelism in order to attract souls to themselves.

21 09 2006
erik

yes Jim it would be interesting to boast in yourself and your ‘results’ while proclaiming a message that is supposed to humble man and exalt God. God seems to be all about removing personal boasting and accomplishing Christ boasting. Something tells me that God was pleased with Jeremiah’s ministry even though he never had anyone respond in a favorable way…in decades! Our job is to serve up the message (without dillution) and God will save the elect.

21 09 2006
Tyler

Is this the post of the Irish Calvinist or JPiper? Sounds eerily similar to the following quote: “Our evangelistic task is not to persuade people that the gospel was made for their felt needs, but that they were made for the soul-satisfying glory of God in the gospel.”

21 09 2006
erik

this is a great quote man. it is actually similiar to what i am hoping to post here quickly about the purpose of the gospel…what book from piper are you reading?

22 09 2006
Tyler

God’s Passion for His Glory. it’s in the Well.

24 09 2006
Justin

I was just reminded of this yesterday which Chris and I were doing door-to-door evangelism. We were talking with a gentleman about the gospel and he kept giving us reasons why he didn’t believe it, like claiming to be a man of “wisdom” (1Cor 1:21) or that he was really a “righteous” person (Mk. 2:17), thus in denying his need for Christ he upheld the truthfulness of God’s word. But at one point in the conversation he made a comment about how he hoped we weren’t frustrate at not being able to convert him, to which Chris responded, “Not at all, we get to proclaim to you the glory of Christ.”

I could help but think how much more enjoyable evangelism is when your sole intention is to declare the beauty and glory of the Almighty and then to leave the rest to Him.

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