The first priority of a sending church is balancing Biblical evangelism. Acts 1:8 states, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit is come upon you and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, in all Judea, and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” That is balanced, Biblical evangelism, and it is balanced in at least two different ways. First, balancing Biblical evangelism means that reaching people with the Gospel is a local priority, not just a global one. There is a tendency sometimes for churches to say, “We give tons of money to missions,” but if you asked what they are doing to reach their neighborhoods for Christ, we find that their gospel focus lies in supporting others to do the work they won’t do themselves. In many cases, churches and individual believers find it easier to send money and to send people across the globe than to go across the street. But a church that is truly balanced understands the local priority of reaching people for Christ. A church that doesn’t take the Gospel across the street won’t produce people who will take the Gospel around the world.
Second, a church that is truly balanced in its evangelism sees evangelism as a personal responsibility, not just a pastoral responsibility. Many believers view evangelism as the pastor’s job. In reality, evangelism is every believer living out their life in the context of their workplace or neighborhood and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ in those contexts. Every member is a witness, not just the pastor. There is no substitute for your personal witness through the relationships that God has given to you. As a matter of fact, the Bible says that we owe it to people to share the Gospel – Romans 1:14. David Platt put it this way, “Every saved person this side of Heaven owes the Gospel to every unsaved person this side of hell.” It’s true. We owe it to people to share the Gospel of Christ with them. We have a long way to go here as the body of Christ in America when it comes to sharing the Gospel. Not too long ago Lifeway Research gave the following statistics: in the next seven years 55,000 churches in the United States will close! Lifeway also stated that those who attend church on any given weekend in the next few years will drop from seventeen percent to fourteen percent. That means that on any given weekend only fourteen percent of Americans will be found in any kind of church. Their study went on to state that only twenty percent of American churches are growing. To make matters worse, of those that are growing, only one percent of those churches are growing because they are reaching lost people. You know what that means? Most church growth is simply shuffling Christians around. Most churches that are growing are attracting Christians from other churches, perhaps because they got upset about what was happening in their church and decided to go to a “growing” church. That’s not really church growth. Real, Biblical conversion growth is when unbelievers are coming to faith in Christ and following the Lord in believer’s baptism.
Recently I spoke with a ministry leader who provides direction and counsel to a fellowship of churches organized on a state level. He shared his burden for the Baptist churches of his state. One of the greatest burdens he shared was related to this matter. As he visits and helps local churches, he regularly asks a very penetrating and important question. It goes something like this, “When was the last time you saw an adult trust Christ as Savior, get baptized and join your church?” Guess what the two most common answers to that question have been! “We can’t remember the last time that happened,” or “It has been a long time!” What an indictment on the condition of our churches! Remember, a church that doesn’t take the Gospel across the street won’t produce people who will take the Gospel around the world. We must take the responsibility of reaching souls seriously if we ever expect that burden to be caught by others who will be passionate about taking the Gospel across the street and around the world! Biblically balanced evangelism must be priority one!