In Rico Tice’s book ‘Honest Evangelism,’ he talks about ‘the pain line’, the point in the conversation where we move from topics that are socially acceptable – the sport, home improvements or our next holiday – and into territory that’s much less comfortable: to speak about our faith in Jesus.
Against the backdrop of such a strong secular agenda in our society today, that pain line is getting more painful, isn’t it? Where UFM workers are serving, the pressure not to speak about Jesus is even more acute. And it’s not just from ‘out there’. There’s a growing temptation in the church to push evangelism down the agenda.
There are 144 evangelical mission agencies based in the UK and our friend Eddie Arthur has been doing some research about them recently*. How many of those 144 evangelical mission agencies do you think are involved in evangelism in some way? Just 56, less than 4 in 10! More than half of the evangelical mission agencies in the UK today see no place for evangelism in their work. For many, evangelism has become part of the package, not the focus. For some, it has been replaced altogether by a list of other important things.
More than half of the evangelical mission agencies in the UK today see no place for evangelism in their work.
As Christians we’ve got to hold our nerve on this one. As we serve together in mission, we’ve got to see that the task of evangelism is absolutely necessary. And we see why, so clearly, in Mark 4 where Jesus tells his disciples that the kingdom of God is going to grow as the seed is scattered. What is that seed? Mark 4:14, “The farmer sows the word.” The kingdom of God, Jesus says, grows as the word is scattered.
Why is evangelism absolutely necessary? God’s kingdom grows as God’s word is spread. Lives are changed as God’s word is shared. Evangelism – proclaiming the gospel to those who are listening – is the God ordained way people are to hear the good news, and his kingdom grow.
God’s kingdom grows as God’s word is spread. Lives are changed as God’s word is shared.
As we go on in our mission service together, let’s remember the reality that according to Jesus, there are two kinds of people in this world. When it comes to God’s kingdom, you are either in or out. When it comes to your sin, you’re either guilty or forgiven. When it comes to eternity you’re either facing heaven or hell.
The only thing that divides those two groups is our response to Jesus – the one who lived the sinless life we can never live; the one who cried out, “my God, my God why have you forsaken me?”; the one who took the punishment our sin deserved; the one who can give us his right standing before God; the one who sits at the right hand of the Father, who can save us from hell, for heaven.
Friends, we need to hold our nerve. To keep evangelism at the heart of our mission is not to narrow our scope, but rather to have confidence that the gospel message has power to change lives.
Michael Prest, UFM Worldwide Director
*A Study of Mission Agencies, https://www.kouya.net/?p=9839