What is evangelism? Is it inviting people to church? Is it sharing the gospel? Is it about helping the suffering?
Christians have used different methods of evangelism. Willow Creek and Saddleback are prime examples of the “come and see” approach, where a large gathering is used to attract people who do not normally attend church. On the other hand, some younger churches are starting to focus on a “go and tell” approach, where evangelism is incarnational and all of life is seen as an opportunity for evangelism.
But I wonder, do we really need to pick between the two? It seems like a debate between two good approaches that are not contradictory to one another. Does an engaging worship service exclude the possibility of missional living? Not at all. In fact, each should motivate the other.
Throughout the history of the Church, there have been examples of non-Christians being amazed of Christian worship. They came, saw, and believed. Back in 988 AD, for example, some converts had testified to the power of experiencing Christian worship. They reported that, “We knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth for on earth, there is no such splendour or such beauty and we are at a loss how to describe it. We know only that God dwells there among men, and their service is fairer than the ceremonies of other nations.” (Moreau 102) What was true a thousand years ago is still true today. Countless people have come to Christ through the “come and see” approach.
At the same time, we fool ourselves if we believe that droves of non-believers will attend Christian events within our church walls. Compared to the growing population, fewer and fewer people are attending church. This is not due to a lack of programming, but a lack of interest in the culture at large. There is a growing animosity towards the church. So our churches must not only welcome seekers, but our churches must become the seekers — going into the world, seeking the lost, and offering hope outside of the church walls.
Rather than dividing sharp lines between us, therefore, we should see the value of both approaches. We should continue to invite non-Christians to experience genuine and true worship; it can forever change their life. But at the same time, we need to seek those who will never step inside of a church; we must reach them where they are at.
Thankfully, God doesn’t limit us to a single approach. With so many creative ways to reach others, we should do everything we can to share Christ’s love with as many people as possible.
COME AND SEE… JESUS
In many ways our pastor at Cambridge Springs Alliance Church is like the senior pastor at Saddleback.
He is contemporary in his preaching style and does not wear a tie or jacket.
Our church is using the “come and see” approach.
To get the lost in our community to come inside our doors, we use a strong weekly children’s program.
People in our church have been rounding up children from unchurched families and bringing them.
What happens next is the parents start coming to see what the children’s program is all about.
Many then start coming to our Sunday services with their whole family.
Since we started this approach about a year ago our worship service attendance is up over 125%.
There is a growing number of people coming to Jesus for salvation followed by an increase in baptisms.
Weekly giving is up and giving to the Great Commission Fund is off the charts.
We are now looking into a possible building program… All for the Glory of God.
Our pray is… that people will continue to come and see Jesus.