The Church: What's the Goal?
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Article: We Evangelize Together
By Brandon Hammond
What does it look like when God uses the church to bring people into the kingdom?
Meet Chris (Chris represents a real person, but I've substituted his real name for privacy). Chris is an individual that just moved to town for school. In the first days in town, he meets some folks from his class who are believers. These folks invite him to a cookout. As they get to know each other, they share parts of their journey of faith. Chris appreciates the friendships that are forming, and he engages in the conversation around faith as he is spiritually searching himself. His friends then invite him to church, where his experience of God is broadened as he meets more believers and sees firsthand what it is like for the church to gather. Conversations and questions continue over meals, study time, and hanging out.
Maybe you have been a part of a story like this one. Perhaps you helped someone like Chris in their spiritual journey, or maybe you yourself were like Chris. There are three modes of evangelism that show up in Chris's story that I'd like to dive into as we look at how God uses believers (the church) in reaching out to those who are not yet believers. It is helpful for us to realize that God is at work in a variety of ways in one's life as He draws them into Himself. The three modes of evangelism coined by missiologist Keith Davy are body witness, natural witness, and ministry witness.
Ministry mode happens when a believer or group of believers organize efforts to meet and build relationships with a new group of people or target audience. In Chris's case, the effort to give new students a place to have some food and play some games through a cookout laid the groundwork for relationships to form. Maybe Chris would have met these folks in other ways, but the primary connection was due to the organized target approach toward students.
We see this form of ministry take place in the scripture with examples like Jesus going to new towns in Mark 1:38-39 and when Jesus sends out the 72 in Luke 10. Whatever the ministry mode looks like, whether beach evangelism, homeless outreach, or a neighborhood cookout, the goal is trusting God for an opportunity to share the gospel and/or a relationship to form.
Natural mode occurs as believers intersect with the people in their everyday lives. From family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers that you know already, to the waitress at your favorite restaurant, these are people that you have the chance to interact with where you live, work, learn or play.
Chris’s friends were just that - friends. They spent time with him and in the process sought opportunities to learn about his faith background or spiritual journey. Naturally, the opportunity arose to share their own faith journey of trusting in Jesus. Sometimes this happens quickly like in Chris’s case, while other situations require more trust to be built.
Examples of natural mode ministry can be seen in John 4 as Jesus interacts with the Samaritan woman. Their interaction was brief but natural. Colossians 4:5-6 commands us to make the most of our opportunities with outsiders as does 1 Peter 3:15.
The last mode is what we call body witness. In the article The Modes of Evangelism, Davy writes that “when the body of Christ is gathered together and functioning, as it should, it has the potential of being a powerful witness to unbelievers who are exposed to it.” This can take place in the context of a formal gathering like Sunday worship or informally like a community group. Chris not only got to interact over his questions about God with his friends but also with people he just met when he came to the church gathering. He saw people, strangers to him, singing praise to God - maybe he saw you worshiping, singing, taking notes from the message, extending a warm hello.
This is what we see per the result of the Acts 2 community, people were attracted to God by seeing others worship God (Acts 2:42-47). Jesus also speaks directly in John 17:22-23, “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”
It is a joy that God would use us in creative and distinct ways in the process of drawing others closer to himself, especially in evangelism. Not everyone goes through each mode as I have described Chris’s journey. I simply used it as a way for you to see a bigger picture of how God can use each environment. Hopefully, through the framework of the three modes, we can recognize that God is at work in a variety of ways. This variety gives us a great opportunity to participate in reaching out to those who are yet to know him as a church.
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