Most churches say that they care a lot about evangelism, but the truth is they really don’t—all you have to do is take a look at their budgets.
How much money do they have devoted toward reaching the lost? What are they investing in to further the kingdom? When you ask, the usual answer is to look down at the ground and say, “Evangelism is hard.”
You know what? That’s not a good excuse. Evangelism is hard for everyone. No matter if you’re in the South where everyone’s inoculated to the gospel, in the Southwest where everyone worships the sun and is too busy making money for community, in the Northeast where Christianity is all but a fossil relic, or in my home area of the Pacific Northwest where everyone is running around naked, eating vegetables, and trying to make their buildings greener—evangelism is hard work.
I come from the Reformed tribe, and we’re the worst at evangelism. Sure we had guys like Spurgeon, but he’s been dead for a long, long time. A big buzzword in my tribe is “missional,” which usually equates to having tattoos, drinking beer, smoking pipes, running a blog, and throwing parties. But it rarely equates to converts. The reality is that in the reformed world theological debates are often a source of more passion than reaching the lost for Jesus.
Here’s the big idea: you can’t be in love with Paul’s theology without having Paul’s lifestyle. Paul’s focus was on both doctrine and evangelism. The most “reformed” section in the Bible may be Romans 9–11, which is about predestination, election, and God’s choosing to save sinners. But right in the middle we read this in Romans 10:14–15:
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
Yes, God is sovereign over salvation. But, his sovereign plan includes sending us to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and see who responds in faith. Rather than arguing about election, we should be preaching the gospel and see which elect people respond. Paul knew that God was sovereign over both the ends and the means. Salvation is a sovereign work of God, but so is preaching to unbelievers.
So, since we’re not the best at evangelism, I went ahead and reached out to someone outside our tribe who’s the best at it: Greg Laurie.
Greg is in my opinion the greatest living evangelist in America today. He spends more time and energy on evangelism than anyone local pastor I know. His Harvest Crusades have preached the gospel to more than 4.4 million people and seen thousands of converts. And he’s not even content with that! Greg just announced that his next Harvest Crusade event will also be simulcast to over 1,400 churches, businesses, coffee shops, and more on August 26.
I’ve personally had the chance to meet with Greg, and I can tell you that he is a humble, wise, and godly man who loves Jesus and loves to see people meet Jesus. There are even members at Mars Hill Church who got saved at Harvest Crusades in Seattle and now are vital parts of our church life. I’m thankful for Greg and his work, and I want to learn from him. And I want you to learn from him too.
Here’s something we can all agree on: hell is hot, forever is a long time, and people need to meet Jesus. My hope is to light a fire in you for lost people in your life. For this reason, I’ve invited Greg Laurie to the 2012 Resurgence Conference to speak on evangelism and preaching Jesus. I encourage you to come and learn from Greg.
Some of you may want to get know Greg a bit better. I get that. So he’s graciously accepted an invitation to do a Google+ Hangout On Air chat with me on Monday, August 13 at 1:30 p.m. (PDT, GMT -7). I’ll be candidly talking with Greg about his testimony and his ministry. It will be a great time to get to know him better and see firsthand his love for Jesus and for people.
It’s time to stop making excuses and start making plans to see more people meet Jesus, to have a heart for the lost, and to have faith that Jesus will work through us as we act faithfully for him.
So, join us for the Google+ Hangout live on August 13 at 1:30 p.m. (PDT, GMT -7).
And make sure to also join us for the Resurgence Conference October 9–10 in Irvine, California to hear Greg on evangelism and preaching Jesus.