by David Kemper
LANSING, MI – We spend a lot of time, energy and effort trying to find new methods for church growth, rather than simply trying to carry out our “Commander-in-chief’s” last orders.
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20 NKJV)
Two commands and one promise in those orders:
‘Make disciples’. Lead people to a born again relationship with Jesus Christ.
‘Teaching them’ to obey.
‘I am with you’ the promise is, that in doing this, He will be with us until He comes again.
He didn’t tell us to make church members. He didn’t tell us to make Baptists. He didn’t tell us to come up with clever and innovative ways to grow crowds. He told us to convince people to be followers of Jesus Christ (disciples). And He told us to teach them to ‘observe’/obey all that He has ‘commanded’ us.
Having been in ministry for almost fifty years, I have seen many changes in culture, methods and even gimmicks to build churches. I think it would be a great idea if we started once again to focus on just getting the clear message of the gospel out to the people in our communities. In my opinion, it is God’s word and the power of the Holy Spirit that actually brings people to Christ.
Be committed to God completely.
Even for those in the ministry, it is an ongoing work to stay as close to the Lord as we possibly can. We all have stresses and temptations that interfere with our ability to effectively communicate the gospel. I am sure that the closer we stay to the Lord the more powerful our efforts will be in outreach and personal witness.
Understand the gospel thoroughly.
It may seem strange to say, but effective communication of the gospel requires a clear understanding of it. Many times we think we know it clearly but that is only because we know the ‘vocabulary’ of the Christian and the Bible, and don’t realize as we attempt to share the gospel that it is not that clear at all to one who has been unchurched all their life. If one only memorizes a ‘plan of salvation’ and doesn’t understand all of the nuances involved in that from the Bible it becomes very hard to extend the conversation to the point of salvation. Using a ‘plan of salvation’ is essential, but understanding it is much more than ‘a plan’.
Learn to communicate the gospel clearly.
I have found that the best way to communicate the gospel is to keep it as brief and simple as possible. When I first did ministry as a director of a Junior Church in Nashville, I learned quickly that the only way to communicate to the kids was to keep it simple and as brief as possible. That five year experience has helped me a lot in learning how to keep complex subjects easy enough for a child to understand. That’s how we must work if we are to communicate clearly.
Possibly the most important part of sharing the gospel is to be faithful. And absolutely ‘don’t quit’. If our efforts are not always visibly fruitful we can become discouraged. Be certain, God uses every effort we make to add souls to the kingdom, even if we personally never see the results.
“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
My name is David Kemper. I retired as a systems analyst from Dart Container in 2011. I am now in my third year as the pastor of the Discover Life Church in Lansing, MI.