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).