Selfishness as Sin 6

While I am not dealing directly with the quote by Emmons as I have been, for the next few posts under this heading I will be dealing with an article published in Baptist Press and other SBC magazines. It is a very clear example of what happens when you push evangelism without dealing with the sinfulness of souls and without taking the character of God into account. It was written by Ronnie Floyd who is president of the Southern Baptist Convention and a pastor in northwest Arkansas.—what-happened-to-evangelism-in-the-sbc

What happened to evangelism in the Southern Baptist Convention? It was our commitment to evangelism in the past that set us apart from all other denominations. The events and experiences churches offered to their community were done with the specific intent of winning others to faith in Christ. What happened? Where did this go?

Could it be….
Could it be that we have scrutinized the evangelism of others so much that we have cut the heart of evangelism out of our pastors and churches? Could it be that we so fear what others think about the ways we reach others because we fear being misunderstood, we have ceased talking about evangelism with our pastors and churches? Could it be everything else in our convention is more important than evangelism? Could it be that we recognize and reward many other things before we ever recognize evangelism through our churches? I pray not, but could it be?

These are fascinating and insightful questions. Sometimes asking a question can be at least as revealing if not more than making a statement. While it is a fact that the heart of evangelism has been cut out of pastors and churches, it may not be because evangelism has been overly scrutinized. The reason that the heart of evangelism has been cut out is because true theology has been cut out of the pastors and churches. Pastors that focus on evangelism are neglecting to preach the whole counsel of God because we don’t see a focus on what Floyd is calling evangelism in the Bible. When pastors and churches focus on evangelism, they are no longer focused on what the Bible focuses on and evangelism becomes man-centered and humanistic. The heart of evangelism is cut out when people focus on evangelism rather than the glory of God which is central to the Gospel. In other words, when the glory of God is not the focus and the focus is on the glory of evangelism, the heart of true evangelism is gone and people are going around with much zeal for what they term evangelism and yet that is a zeal without knowledge. It is also a form of evangelizing without the true Gospel.

It may be that many things in the convention are viewed with a greater importance than evangelism, but where do we see Jesus and His apostles making evangelism the ultimate priority? A business which does nothing but focus on sales (like Arminian evangelism) will go out of business fairly quickly. The reason is that a business also must focus on the quality of what it is selling and taking care of the customers. The business must take care of its employees or disgruntled employees will cause major problems. This is just to point out that unless God has commanded that all else be put to the side and people go out and evangelize as Floyd wants to that it is very unwise to do so. No, what the epistles focus on are things within the churches. The Church is God’s method of reaching the world and the Church is how things should remain balanced and theology, truth, and love are to control the Church.

There are reasons that in the history of the Church preaching has been the understood method that bring men to Christ. When men come and are under the teaching and preaching ministry of the local church (assuming that it is biblical), they should hear solid teaching about the sinfulness of men and of the truths of Christ as a whole. It is when they hear this preaching of Christ that they are given faith in Christ. It is not in saying a prayer at some canned little message, but it is when men are under the preaching of the whole Christ and the whole Scriptures that they hear the truth. When preaching begins to focus on getting people to say prayers and walk the aisles, it has moved away from what true preaching should be and as such people will not hear the true Gospel. When preaching (so-called) focuses on evangelism (modern types) it is not feeing the people of God with Christ and the truth of God. True evangelism, then, is what happens in the church as the church is being the church. It is when there are Bible studies held to teach people about sin and about the attributes of God. If people did follow Ronnie Floyd’s suggestions, the local church would be like a business which had nothing but a team of salesman. When evangelism becomes that much of a priority, the evangelism will be from a false gospel and it will do nothing but produce a burned over district as Finney did in the 1800’s. What churches need to do first and foremost is to get back to preaching and teaching the Bible with the glory of God in the face of Christ as the message and as the intent and love. God will have nothing to do with anything that He is not the center of. When God is not the very center of evangelism, then evangelism is nothing more than an idol. It is that serious.

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