Have you ever been in a church meeting on evangelism or “how to grow the church” and then nothing actually ever happens? There’s lots of talking and some good ideas come up, but then there’s no follow up, no evangelism and no growth to the church. If you’ve been active in the church for even a little while, chances are you have been in meetings like this. I once heard a speaker say, “The church should have less meetings about meeting needs and just meet more needs!” Amen! Wouldn’t it be great if we stopped just talking about it and actually started doing it! Just do something! Anything! Any attempt at evangelism would be better than more meetings that go nowhere, right?
If none of us like unproductive meetings on church growth, then why are such meetings so common? Why do we so often talk about the need for evangelism yet never do anything about it? Well there are certainly many reasons, fear being among them. However, I suggest that a primary reason is that we just don’t really care. We know we should do evangelism but we don’t really want to. So, having meetings and talking about it makes us feel a little less guilty about not doing anything. We’ll think, “Well, at least I went to that meeting…”
Do we really care enough to share the Gospel? Sure, we want the church to grow, well, at least we don’t want it to close. Sure, we want young families in the church, well, at least we want them to help pay the bills. Sure, we want people to go to Heaven when they die, right? Or do we? Do we forget that people who die without believing in Jesus go to Hell? Do we forget that without Jesus people are cut off from a relationship with God and are stumbling through the darkness of life unable to turn their lives around? Do we forget to care about them?
To counter our lack of caring enough to actually go meet needs instead of meeting about meeting needs, let me suggest applying three principals:
RESTORE: Do you remember your own salvation? Can you recall the moment you crossed from death to life, and went from not knowing God to having a relationship with him? Even those who have always believed in God can usually recall a moment when their faith became real in their heart and not just something they were raised with. Psalm 51:12 (ESV) says, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” Ask God to restore that joy you had when you were first saved. Restoring that joy in your heart will cause you to want others to experience it too. You’ll want to tell others! Restore your joy.
REMEMBER: These words from Jesus to the church in Ephesus in Revelation 2 may be particularly appropriate to Anglicans today: “I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.” Rev. 2:2-5 (ESV) You have fought hard for Biblical truth. That is great. Now, remember to love Jesus with everything you have. If you don’t love Jesus and aren’t passionate about Him, you won’t bother to share Him with others. Get passionate about your relationship with Jesus. Remember your first love.
RECEIVE: Sometimes we might just be too tired to do one more thing. We’ve used up all are energy going to meetings! Effective evangelism is dependent on the power of the Holy Spirit. Even the disciples were told not to try it on their own. Jesus initially said to wait, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (ESV) And when the Spirit did come on Pentecost, evangelism sure happened and the church sure grew. Have you received the power of the Holy Spirit? Have you asked to be filled up in order to be poured out to others? If not, maybe meeting about meeting needs is all you have the power to do. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to come and fill you with His power to witness about Jesus. Receive the Holy Spirit.
The Rev. Canon Mark Eldredge is Director of Church Revitalization and Coaching for the American Anglican Council.