Rethink How You Go
Three pillars drive the ministry of Gospel Life Church: grounded, growing, and going. God has gathered this body of believers to be grounded in the Gospel, to be growing in the Gospel, and to be going out with the Gospel. These pillars center us on the Gospel and focus the ministry of the church around the Gospel. These pillars aren’t unique. Many other churches that I have been a part of over the years have had similar outlooks on ministry. These churches have all been theologically sound and biblically centered. They emphasized expository preaching and Bible-centered ministry. They were similar to Gospel Life Church in those regards, but not only in those matters. What was true of those churches, I have also found true at Gospel Life Church. A great deal of time and energy are devoted to the first two pillars, with little energy expended on the third pillar.
Numerous factors likely contribute to this reality. Fear, complacency, and distraction are just a few of the numerous components inhibiting our willingness and commitment to go. But, as I argued in this past Sunday’s message, our lack of evangelism may be due to regarding going as an activity, rather than a natural outflow of receiving the truth.
Too often, Christians narrow going to one idea embedded in Jesus’ great commission in Matthew 28:19-20: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” He told them to go, and go we must! We go to the mission field. We go to our neighborhood to knock on doors. We go downtown to street witness and preach. All of these activities are good, and may be necessary, but when we envision going solely in terms of activity, we end up rarely going. This is not too hard to see as a problem in the contemporary American church. To be a going church entails more.
I believe reshaping how we think about going might create a more natural advancement of evangelism in our churches. Realize that I am not suggesting that this is the silver bullet to our struggle, but rather a helpful reorienting of how we think about going. Rather than narrow going to just evangelism, paint going with a broader brush. Going ought to characterize our response to all truth that has been entrusted to us.Let me explain what I mean through Paul’s instruction in 2 Timothy. 2 Timothy contains Paul’s last words to his spiritual son and overseer of the church in Ephesus, Timothy. In it, he shares his heart and final instructions. What he has to say to him, though maybe only directly applicable to elders, becomes applicable in principle to all Christians.
In 2 Timothy 1:14, he tells Timothy to “guard the good deposit” that was entrusted to him. This good deposit refers to the “sound words” of the previous verse. These words were entrusted to Timothy by Paul, and can be summed up as the Gospel. It was this entrusted Gospel that Timothy was to guard. Timothy was to protect it, understand it, and grow in it. But that was not all. A few verses later, Paul writes in 2 Timothy 2:2, “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men.” Guarding the deposit was not enough. He was to pass it on to others. He had been entrusted with great truth, accompanying with it the great responsibility of passing it on to others.
Paul’s instruction to Timothy conveys an important principle to all believers—a principle that should shape how we think of going. Going takes all that has been entrusted to us and passes it on to others. Every time we are entrusted with truth, whether it be through formal ministry like a Christian Living Class or through less formal ministry like life on life discipleship, we should be entrusting that truth to another. We go with the truth we have been given, and give it to another. We are to be conduits of truth. When we make it a habit to go with all that has been entrusted to us, as a faithful conduit, we can be sure that we will be sharing the Gospel with the lost.