Satisfying the Hunger... is a blog written by the ministry staff of Evangelism & Church Growth
As I continue to grow up in Christ, I pray, ponder, and talk about church life with much more of a sense of urgency. There are many reasons for this sense of urgency, but the most compelling reason is that I am living as a convert. As a person who grew up and was nurtured in traditional church structures, I am being converted by the Holy Spirit from the language of “going to church” to “being church.”
Even though I have always had a heart for seeing people’s lives change in Jesus Christ, I have been formed by a church culture that sees evangelism as the ministry of inviting people to church. This attitude about evangelism affirms that if we simply get people inside the church building, then they will experience Jesus and want to become disciples. My work in evangelism over the past two years has forced me to rethink the ministry of evangelism. Evangelism cannot be the program that helps us grow our church rolls. It must be part of the ministry of growing disciples, which includes building relationships with people outside the church, sharing the gospel, and introducing people to the community of the Body of Christ.
Evangelism must emerge from a disciple-making culture. I am becoming more and more convinced that if we grow up disciples of Jesus Christ, then we will develop people within our faith communities who authentically share faith and serve others. In a disciple-making culture, we experience sharing faith and justice as part of the same gospel ministry of advancing God’s mission of love and restoration.
As I continue to work through The Acts of the Apostles, I am convinced that Alan Hirsch, a leading church planter and missional thinker, is absolutely correct when he says that every church movement must start with Jesus. If we start with Jesus, then we are called into God’s mission through Jesus. As we are on mission, we structure the church, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to carry out this mission. In other words, the worship, teaching, fellowship, and prayer of the community are for the equipping and releasing of people for God’s mission of redemption.
Neil Cole writes in Church 3.0, “I have come to realize that we should stop planting churches. We should plant Jesus, and let Jesus build the church… We have planted religious organizations rather than planting the powerful presence of Christ” (p. 58). After reading these words, I know in my heart that this is the ministry I’m called to pursue. What does it look like for us as to be part of planting the healing, reconciling presence of Christ?
In my own life and ministry, I am committing to pray more with people about what God is doing in our lives and in the community around us. I want to engage Scripture with others and move more deeply into God’s heart for a broken world and mission to restore people, relationships, and creation. I want to be held accountable for my life and the amount of time I’m spending with people outside the church. Through prayer, time in Scripture, community, and serving, I believe that we experience ourselves as the church wherever we are. My prayer for all of us is that we will move more fully from “going to church” to “being the church” wherever we are. And I pray that God will continue to give us a sense of urgency for the mission of reaching people who do not know God’s love in Jesus and bringing God’s justice into a broken and hurting world.
How are you sharing the gospel with the people around you and serving your community? What will need to change in your life to enter more completely into God’s call?