In the first century, multitudes of people abandoned their lives of sin and wickedness and obeyed the New Testament pattern (Acts 2:36-42; 4:1-4; 5:12-16). Today, the absolute necessity of teaching the same redeeming power of the gospel to every accountable person is just as urgent. Are we preaching the same pure gospel that the apostles preached? If we are abiding by Galatians 1:6-9, the answer would be yes. The seed of the kingdom is still the Word of God, and the soil upon which the seed is sown is still the hearts of men (Luke 8:4-15). Has the seed lost its potency? Absolutely not (1 Pet. 1:22-25). In order for results to occur we must, therefore, get the seed upon the soil and plant the Word of God in the hearts of men in the most effective way possible. In view of the ongoing challenges facing the growth of the local church, our methods of evangelism must never grow stale or become ineffective. If our methods are not effective, we must prayerfully and properly examine ourselves and find the most expedient manner of fulfilling our obligation to evangelize.
When considering all of the aspects and prospects of evangelism, no expedient method, person, or group of people can be excluded. Effective evangelism must occur in places other than within the walls of our building. More often than not, the majority of the families living in the houses surrounding our buildings are lost. We need to visit them in their homes and encourage them to attend our services. Door knocking is still an effective method of evangelism. We must never doubt the battle-tested ways of former years (Jer. 6:16; Acts 5:42). We might be pleasantly surprised at the effectiveness of a well-organized summer afternoon spent knocking on doors and setting up Bible studies in our local communities. Different methods of evangelism can indeed help the small local church to grow. However, we must always be diligent and prayerful in our endeavors. We must be steadfast in asking our Father in Heaven to help us in our evangelistic efforts (James 4:2). We must realize that faithful prayers alone cannot take the place of obedient action coupled with a spirit of humility (James 2:26; Luke 17:10).
With these thoughts in mind, let us consider the following four different methods of evangelism that should aid in the growth of small local congregations of the Lord’s people:
- Restoring our wayward brethren is one method of evangelism in which the small local church can grow. The word “evangelize” simply means to announce the good news to another. The good news to our erring brethren is that they no longer have to continue in their terrible state of rebellion. There is hope if they repent and confess their error (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9). Some wayward members of the church have been away so long they may not even remember why they stopped attending. Others never forget past mistakes, nor allow anyone else to forget. We need to take the time to patiently explore the matter and continue seeking the proper avenues of correction. Was their departure due to a former preacher’s poorly worded sermon, or feelings of apparent neglect from the leadership, or possibly financial stress? Perhaps there was no particular reason at all. Regardless of the circumstances, these individuals are souls that are lost and need to abide in the doctrine of Christ in order to have fellowship with God (1 John 1:3; 2 John 9). They have obeyed the first principles of the gospel and need to be restored to the fold (Gal. 6:1-2). Therefore, we must evangelize our erring brethren.
- Equipping our faithful brethren with the whole armor of God is a second method of evangelism in which the small local church can grow. Every aspect of the armor of God is in reference to understanding and implementing the gospel of Christ (Eph. 6:10-18). The good news directed toward our faithful brethren is that, when properly equipped, they can accomplish greater things for the Lord in His kingdom than they ever thought possible. Can we grasp the concept of an entire congregation of the Lord’s people in which every member is prepared to give an answer for the hope that is in them with meekness and fear (1 Pet. 3:15)? Imagine the difference that would make in our workplaces. Instead of being unprepared to answer the denominational and worldly quibbles, we would be ready to calmly and patiently discuss and refute any and every Bible topic without hesitation. Great are the opportunities for evangelism in the workplaces of well taught members of the church.
- Advertising all upcoming events taking place at the building is a third method of evangelism in which the small local church can grow. We generally send our gospel meeting flyers to the congregations in the (somewhat) surrounding area, and yet fail to place flyers in our local businesses. Although we love for our brethren to attend our meetings, our hearts would rejoice to have just as many or even more visitors from our local communities. We pray that the day and hour has not come in which we have gospel meetings only out of habit and not due to a sincere desire of seeing souls snatched out of the fire (Jude 22-23). Adequate advertising in the local community can be a greater asset than we believe. This is an excellent opportunity for some lost soul to see a welcome invitation to hear sound doctrine! We never know who is searching for something better or who may be receiving the House to House/Heart to Heart publication and visit our services for no other reason than sheer curiosity. Brethren, we must sow righteousness abundantly in order to reap righteousness abundantly (Gal. 6:7-9)!
- Perfecting our love toward one another is the fourth method of evangelism in which the small local church can grow. You may not think this to be a method of evangelism, but it is an important one. Imagine for just a moment that you are a visitor at the congregation where you regularly attend. Is there a feeling of tension in the air? Do you observe individuals who do not shake hands or even look each other in the eye? If we can see it, our visitors can as well. Visitors have a knack for being aware of tensions that are unnecessary in the assemblies of the saints. Our manner of life must always be in harmony with the gospel of Christ (Phil. 1:27). There is nothing more discouraging than for visitors from our communities to detect disharmony among the Lord’s people. The disharmony amongst us will cripple our efforts of evangelism. The Bible commands us to love one another (1 John 4:21). What doth hinder us?
We must always strive to find the most effective way to accomplish the greatest good for the kingdom. We must be convinced that the fields are white unto harvest (Matt. 9:36-38; John 4:31-38). James says we must be “doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22). When the love of evangelism gets into a faithful congregation of the Lord’s people, the results will be evident and everlasting.
Lexington, NC Church of Christ