What Does the Bible Say About Outreach?

reaching out

Reach out to your community

Here is another great article by Brian Tubbs as to why, as the church, our focus should be on growth. Growth is an indicator that we are making an impact and reaching people for Christ. This apples to both individual churches as well the entire church as a whole.

What Does the Bible Say About Outreach?

Biblical Passages for Church Growth

Many pastors and church leaders have a tough time persuading their congregations to pursue church growth. This is especially the case with established congregations, who have become comfortable in their size, culture, and traditions.

There are, however, no small churches in the Bible commended for remaining small. In fact, those churches most committed to the Christian faith were growing churches. In light of this biblical truth, how can pastors and church leaders persuade congregations to embrace and work toward church growth?

The Great Commission

Anytime one considers the subject of church growth, it’s important to start with the commissioning of the church. What does Jesus teach about church growth?

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells his disciples to “teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:18-20, KJV).

Jesus’ Great Commission to the disciples (and, by extension, his entire church) is a three-step process:

1.Evangelism – Teaching all “nations” (or people groups, nationalities, races, etc.) about the “Gospel” (or “good news”) of Jesus’ atoning death and resurrection.
2.Baptism – The first step of obedience for those who have received Christ, and the act that publicly confirms them as members of a Christian congregation.
3.Discipleship – The process of teaching Jesus’ new followers doctrine and Christlike living (Acts 2:42; Ephesians 2:19-20).

Though the “church” of Jesus is universal in scope, it is locally organized, and each congregation is to commit itself to this three-fold task.

What Does Jesus Teach About Church Growth?

The scope and strategy of Jesus’ Great Commission is captured in the first chapter of the book of Acts, when he tells his disciples to begin in Jerusalem, expand outward to all of Judea, then to Samaria, and the “uttermost parts of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Evangelism is to be comprehensive, all-fronts push outward. The kingdom of God is to be advanced city by city, nation by nation, throughout the entire world.

Prior to his crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus modeled the passion and commitment to which he calls his followers. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus is seen talking with sinners, tending to the sick and disadvantaged, and preaching to great crowds. He is unswervingly committed to reaching people and changing hearts.

Theologian Millard Erickson carefully examines Jesus’ ministry and his Great Commission, and says the “call to evangelize is a command” and that “if the church is to be faithful to its Lord and bring joy to his heart, it must be engaged in bringing the gospel to all people.” (Erickson, Millard. Christian Theology, 2nd edition. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1998).

Scholar Wayne Grudem says the “evangelistic work of declaring the gospel is the primary ministry that the church has toward the world.” (Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000).

Growth of the Early Christian Church

While some Christian congregations languish in mediocrity or decline today, this was not the case with the first century church in Jerusalem. Following Jesus’ ascension, the eleven remaining disciples gathered with the wider network of Jesus’ followers.

At the time of Pentecost, about 120 of Jesus’ followers were praying in the “upper room,” when the Holy Spirit came down and empowered them (Acts 2:1-4). Pentecost saw 3,000 men and women added to the Jerusalem church. Talk about church growth!

The early church continued to grow, spreading well beyond Jerusalem. Churches sprung up in Greece, Rome, Africa, and throughout the known world.

What Does the Bible Say About Outreach?

The bottom line is that the Christian church is commanded to evangelize and expected to grow. Those Christians who refuse to pursue evangelism or outreach are not in line with Scripture. Those congregations that refuse to embrace church growth are not in step with the Great
Commission.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20

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About Chris Sonksen

Chris Sonksen is the founder and Lead Pastor of South Hills Church and has an exceptional ability to inspire both secular and non-secular audiences. Under his leadership, South Hills has experienced phenomenal growth and in just a few short years has grown from a handful of people to nearly 3000 in attendance today. Today South Hills has become a thriving, multi-service and multi-site church. Chris has a magnetic, captivating and humorous style for motivating and inspiring all audiences. As a motivational speaker, he has spoken both nationally and internationally in companies such as Verizon, Securitas and Home Depot, and there is no doubt that by applying his teachings, his audience will improve the quality of their lives! Chris is the author of two books In Search of Higher Ground and Handshake. Chris is the founder of Celera Church Strategy Group an organization with an unwavering commitment to excellence in all things, with the goal to “raise the national average of church attendance,” by equipping church leaders with resources and coaching. Chris brings high-energy focus and a passion for vision and leadership to encourage and equip the local Church. Chris is a native Californian, born in Long Beach and currently resides in Corona with his wife, Laura and their two children, Grace and Aidan.

Posted on April 27, 2010, in church growth, Connecting, Developing Healthy Churches, New Testament Church and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Shayne Skarda

    Hi, Chris, hope you are well. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on evangelism. Honestly, I found your website because I’m currently under the impression that we overemphasize evangelism, in my experience. One simple reason I find for this is that “The Great Commission” is the piece of Scripture always referenced on the topic…because its kind of the only one! True, we are encouraged to be salt & light, always be prepared to give an answerto anyone who asks us about our hope, etc..but “The Great Commision” is the only explicit imperative to evangelize I can think of. (What other Scripture would you point to?) Yet, there is a staggering amount of emphasis on evangelism from many pastors & teachers, it seems. I guess I’m thinking about this because I am in a place now where I believe really my only focus needs to be abiding in Christ, in a very real, relational way. That means no agenda or rule following or strategies but being dependent upon Him moment by moment. It seems this perspective allows the Holy Spirit to bear His fruit in my life, which sometimes is evangelism (or giving or praying or helping…). But this is very different that just focusing on evangelizing. Just curious about your thoughts on the matter. Take care!
    Shayne

    • Chris Sonksen

      While living a good life and being a good example are great, that is not the extent of what we are called to do. I understand how you can look at the great commission as the only direct scripture about evangelism, however there are multiple areas where evangelism is referenced. For instance, when Jesus said “Go into the highway and compel them to come in…I want my house full.” Or the parable of the Lost Sheep or the Lost coin or the Prodigal son. In addition we are called to carry out the mission of Christ which he said was “to seek and save that which was lost.” Finally, the idea that Jesus was sent by God for the redemption of man tells us that it is the heart of God that lost people find Christ. A matter of fact the very first assignment given to disciples was to go 2×2 and share the gospel and Peter himself was told “I will make you fishers of men.”

      These are just some small examples of the importance of evangelism…hope it helps.

      Chris

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