Introduction from Michael Cassidy
“Apart from worship and prayer, evangelism, I believe, is the primary task of the Church. Our Lord’s last word in His Great Commission was to go out and preach the Gospel in all the world and make disciples of all nations. And surely his last words must be our first concern. Indeed, the power of the Holy Spirit, as promised in Acts 1:8, is given so that we may be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and unto the ends of the earth. However, many churches are like an ingrown toenail. You have a group of people who have a lovely, ‘clubby’ time together and the toenail doesn’t hurt at first while it is growing in, but after a while it will start to hurt as the ingrownness of the church and its exclusive club-nature begins to be registered. The spiritual body begins to hurt if it doesn’t have a strong outward focus on mission.
“I like to think about the local church as a place out of which evangelism should flow. In fact one might even say ‘overflow’. The fact is that our evangelism needs to be the spontaneous overflow of the dynamic inner life and fellowship of the local church. Thus Acts 2:44 says, ‘All who believed were together.’ Then verse 47 says, ‘And people were added to the Church daily.’ The results of verse 47 were the overflow of the togetherness in verse 44. One can also say that the local church is the best, most logical and most effective vehicle for this activity; it is God’s Plan A. And when the Church doesn’t get on with its task of evangelism, God calls up His Plan B and raises up various types of para-church agencies who go out and do the job. But it is the local congregation that should primarily have on its heart the evangelisation of its community, region, and the world. This cannot be fobbed off on para-church agencies, useful though they may be.
“To help you think this through and to give some practical ideas please take a look at the resources available.
“Incidentally, in terms of personal witness you might find the little leaflet entitled Everyone Wants Answers particularly helpful. Its big plus is that it is very brief and succinct. First of all it explains why every person needs Christ. Then it outlines the Gospel in a nutshell. Then it suggests a prayer of commitment which any seeker could use. Finally, there follow some simple and basic principles about discipleship and growing in the Christian life. This is the kind of leaflet that is quite useful to carry with you or have readily available.”
Listen to: The Two Gifts of Pentecost, Michael Cassidy