We believe that Christianity is an evangelistic faith. The Lord Jesus has commanded us, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19,20).
We must proclaim the gospel to all people. Salvation is only through faith which is in Christ Jesus (Acts 4:12). Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6).
We apply these doctrines as follows
Methods of Evangelism
The gospel “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:1:16). We can proclaim it through a variety of means. These include the public proclamation of the gospel, literature distribution, gospel meetings, home Bible studies, correspondence courses, camps, Sunday school classes, vacation Bible clubs, prison ministries, home visitation, and the use of the media. We should adapt our methods to meet the needs of the people of our day, evaluating the effectiveness of each form of evangelism.
Many people come to Christ through a friend or family member. We should, therefore, not neglect friendship evangelism while pursing more formal means. Christians should invest in relationships with non-Christians, sharing common interests, enjoying gatherings with them on special occasions, and showing them the love of Christ. They should make use of annual events that bring people together for wholesome purposes, even if these events are not on the same spiritual level of the activities of our church, being careful not to communicate a judgmental attitude. Paul wrote to the Christians living in the worldly city of Corinth: “ I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some. . . . Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of the many, that they may be saved” (1 Corinthians 9:22; 10:32,33). We should avoid over-activity in Christian programs and socializing only with other Christians. God has called us to live separate from the evil of the world, not isolated from the people of the world (1 Corinthians 5:9-11). As the Lord Jesus, we should be a friend of sinners (Matthew 11:19).
The local church is at the center of God’s missionary work. We see this in the missionary work of Barnabas and Paul recorded in the book of Acts. The Holy Spirit sent them out from the church in Antioch (Acts 13:2,3). Where they preached the gospel, they planted churches and appointed elders (Acts 13:4-14:25). They then returned “to Antioch, from which they had been commended” (Acts 14:26). There they reported to the church what God had done through them (Acts 14:27).
In a similar manner, we believe that the church today should formally recognize the Holy Spirit’s call upon individuals that He is setting apart for missionary service. We call this commendation. Often the elders lay hands on the outgoing missionaries and pray for them. This public identification expresses the relationship of the missionaries to the church as an extension of it and the missionaries’ accountability to the church. It is also a commitment on the part of the church to support the outgoing missionaries with prayer, practical assistance, and financial support as the Lord provides. The elders should give the missionaries a letter of commendation that states their support for their calling. This letter can be useful to the missionaries in introducing them to assemblies of Christians they meet along their way.
God may also call some Christians to serve in their home churches as commended workers. Before Paul went out as a missionary, he was recognized as being among the prophets and teachers of the church of Antioch (Acts 13:1). After his first missionary journey, he served a long time in the assembly in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord (Acts 14:27; 15:35). Following Paul’s example, those working at home in their local church should give much of their time to “the equipping of the saints for the work of service” (Ephesians 4:12), just as should missionaries on the foreign field. Rather than the home worker taking sole responsibility for the public ministry of the Word, he should make every effort to train others and give them opportunity to gain experience. In this way the church does not become dependent upon one man.
Christians of all nationalities and ethnicities should work together in their common goal of reaching the world for Christ. This must be an international effort in which we give liberally of our time and resources. We must also be diligent to support those whom God has called to serve as missionaries. Often these servants of the Lord must go out at great personal sacrifice, leaving their families and home country for the sake of the gospel. Scripture tells us “to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. For they went out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support such men, that we may be fellow workers with the truth” (3 John 1:5-8). Churches should especially support those who look to the Lord for their provision and faithfully serve in accordance with the principles of the New Testament. They should also be faithful in supporting mission agencies and service organizations that are assisting their commended missionaries. These provide invaluable assistance, particularly to those called to difficult fields of service requiring special training and support.
Missionaries should answer the call of God in faith, looking to Him for their financial support. They should have as their goal to make disciples through the preaching of the gospel and to establish independent local churches. Paul states this two-fold purpose in his letter to the Ephesians. Referring to the mystery of the church, Paul described his ministry as “to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery” (Ephesians 3:8-9). Missionaries should establish churches based upon the principles of the New Testament. The churches should be self-governing—overseen by local men appointed as elders of the church (Acts 14:26). They should be self-financing—dependent upon God, not foreign funds (2 Corinthians 8:1-15). They should be self-propagating—trained to continue the expansion of the gospel through the ministry of the local Christians (1 Thessalonians 1:6-10).
We must be committed to intercede in prayer for the people of the world and for the missionaries who are serving in ministry to them. The great missionary apostle wrote, “Brethren, pray for us” (1 Thessalonians 5:25). We must also pray for more workers. Jesus taught, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Luke 10:2).
Evangelism includes more than simply preaching the gospel. We are called to “make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matthew 28:19,20). This requires that we follow up new believers, helping them to become grounded in the Christian faith. A good starting point is a review of the gospel to make sure the person understands what it means to be saved. The Christian worker should explain the biblical basis for assurance of salvation. He should tell the new convert of the importance of confessing Christ publicly in baptism. He should also help the new Christian to understand the biblical means of sanctification, including obedience, prayer, and spending time with God each day, meditating on the Word. Finally, he should help the person become part of a good local church that he might be cared for and continue to grow in Christ.