“In order for this to happen, we have to move first. The Great Commission starts with the command to go and that is Jesus’ command to us, His disciples today.” Referring to the pictogram he asked, “When you look at this — do you yell across the chasm and call them to come to you? They don’t even hear us! But what if we over here who hear the voice of God respond to Him and actually GO into the world — ready with a defense to everyone who asks, prepared to demolish strongholds … and walk them back to the One who came that they might be saved?”
The Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC)’s 33rd General Assembly is being held this week in Colorado. The theme “In Christ Alone” was emphasized throughout the day on June 19 with a pre-assembly equipping workshop on evangelism and an evening concert of praise.
The Rev. Dr. Jeffrey J. Jeremiah, stated clerk of the EPC, kicked off the pre-assembly equipping workshop with a reminder of the EPC’s GA priorities, which are:
- “Conducting the business of the national church, and
- “Investing time in equipping churches for the effective proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ in our communities, nation and around the world.”
He noted not only the expected record attendance at the General Assembly but also the overflow crowd at the pre-assembly event before introducing the presenters from The Institute at Cherry Hills, a ministry of Cherry Hills Community Church in Highlands Ranch, Colo. [Editor’s note: the original URL (link) referenced is no longer valid, so the link has been removed.]
Mark Mittelberg, co-director of The Institute, led off with a presentation on “understanding the secular landscape” in which he offered a visual presentation of how in addition to the sin chasm between the lost and God which is bridged by Jesus’ death and resurrection, our neighbors today also face an immense cultural chasm. We must bridge that chasm through relational apologetics, going into the culture where they live and no longer expecting them to come to us to meet needs they do not even recognize they have.
After laying the groundwork for his message through a series of powerful stories, Mittelberg offered seven “key elements that will equip and motivate us to better reach our world for Jesus Christ.”
1. People matter to God. Mittelberg noted that “Jesus’ motivation was the love of God for people, real people. If your evangelism is fueled by something other than love you need a new mindset. The fuel that is pure that will bear the right kind of fruit is love. Amy Grant had a song entitled ‘Love Will Find a Way.’ If we could really care about people the way God cares about people – Eph. 5:1 — then we would go and do anything and everything — and love would find a way.”
2. People are lost. Mittelberg admitted that saying so is politically incorrect but that the statement is true. Jesus came because people are lost. We go because people who matter are lost. He said, “No matter what happens, no matter what resistance we have, we are going stay true to the Scriptures and our calling.”
3. Christ alone. Mittelberg said, “All that come before, all the other alternatives, all others come to steal, kill and destroy. Yes, I know this is very politically incorrect — but if we get fuzzy on ‘nothing but the blood of Jesus’ then we start preaching a social gospel that does not lead to salvation. We must keep before us Romans 1:16: ‘I am not ashamed of the Gospel’ because that’s where the power is!”
Throughout his presentation Mittelberg was adding to a pictogram, and the reality of the secular landscape began to come into view. The sin chasm that separates fallen humanity from God is now accompanied by a gaping culture chasm that moves them further and further away from the idea that they need a relationship with God at all. That culture chasm, Mittelberg said, is growing ever wider.
“There was a time when evangelism was an event. Times have changed. The culture chasm is now very wide, and evangelism is now a very long process,” he said, continuing to reveal the elements for equipping and motivating.