Faithful reader Shane Dodson commented the following:
[Frank Said]"I think the people attracted to Paul and his ministry are not as much like he is in this respect. They only see the passionate plea to be reconciled to God and to see sin through the lens of the Law -- they don;t see any of the hard work of discipleship that comes after that."And this, I think, is the utterly-fair question: what is wrong with the way I am doing evangelism right now – especially if I am a follower of WOTM or the method most perceive as the Paul Washer method of preaching to lost people? Am I not Gospel-faithful?
Based upon what do you think this?
I am very interested how you arrived at that conclusion...but allow me a follow-up statement.
FYI, I was sitting out in the room when you gave this message. It left a few street preachers scratching their heads. I defended the totality of the message, and I think--overall--it's an important one.
However, if you could answer the above question and then explain exactly what role street preaching/street evangelism plays in the paradigm you laid out...I would appreciate it.
For the record, I have already said this:
I am not about to say that there is no value in personal evangelism or open-air preaching. I am not saying you ought not to declare the Gospel, and also never to be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that is in you. Evangelism is necessary and important. But Evangelism that saves people to a solitary life of independent Bible reading and no connection to other believers, no way to mature in the faith, no accountability to Elders and to other people who love them and Christ is a recipe for failure – and a model found nowhere in the New Testament.And that ought to clear it up. That paragraph, in fact, deserves deep reflection by anyone who cares about the other topic of last week’s conference – discernment of false Gospels and false Discipleship.
Think about this with me for a minute: let’s say that you personally are a lost person on the streets of Little Rock, and I have taken my convictions to the street to evangelize the lost – to do something like ministry – rather than merely blogging to the choir. And let’s say that our paths cross on a Friday, and I preach to you under the authority of Jesus Christ the good news concerning His death and resurrection. And let’s say that, by the grace of God, you receive that message in right-minded Berean fashion and both repent and rejoice – you accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior.
Then I hand you a Bible, hug you in joy, and go on to the next person. You have a feeling that something else ought to happen, but you also have things to do today so you fold the Bible to your side and carry on.
Tomorrow, you wake up and remember that yesterday you knew for certain that Jesus was both Lord and Christ. And you have this book now which, it seems, was supposed to have something to do with that. Now what? What do I do with this book? The wiseguy back there is about to publish the comment, “READ IT!” which, fair enough: so you start reading it. You actually start in the beginning, and you read 3-4 chapters, and there’s no Jesus in there. There’s this talking snake, and then there is this brother who kills his brother because somehow the murdered brother was accepted by God, and the angry brother wasn’t. It seems both strange and compelling at the same time, but you can’t tell why. So you put the Bible down, and you pray a completely-novice prayer: “Jesus? God? Yesterday I was sure you’re my only hope, and today I am confused by this Bible. Help me to understand it better because I believe what I learned yesterday, but today I need to know you are still there. Help me please. Amen.”
Evening and Morning, as they say, and another day passes.
Sunday comes around, and you think maybe you should go to a church – but which one? You pick the nearest one, which turns out to be a Catholic church (for example), and it’s really strange enough that you realize that what they were talking about and what that Street Preacher was talking about aren’t the same – so you slip out before the lines in the aisles dissipate so no one notices you leaving, and you go home.
And now you’re a little confused – you’re not sure what you got yourself into. So you turn on the TV, and you find this fellow in a suit with a Bible open in from of him, and he says the name “Jesus” a lot, and he seems excited about it, and he uses the word “deliverance” a lot, and he talks about how much good God wants for your life, and he seems like a nice young man. He has a great smile, and a convicting way of speaking without being judgey. His name is Joel Osteen, and it turns out a lot of people listen to him – he has the most popular podcast on iTunes under “religion,” and he has a huge church, and he’s sold a lot of books which you can find in the local (non-Christian) bookstore. If a lot of people are following him, it has to be right to do it yourself …
My rejoinder to that objection is this: then please tell me where all these people come from. Osteen has sold more than 20 million books, and something like 7 million people watch his TV show every week. Those people are coming from somewhere, and I suggest to you that it is not from healthy churches or from under the sound teaching of godly elders. Are they all coming from street evangelism? Not hardly – I’ll bet most of them are coming from unhealthy churches and careless journeymen religious pep-talkers. But here’s the rub: there is no way to know what happens to these people after you have preached to them if they are not turned over to a healthy local church.
In my talk, I said that Peter’s hedge against people having a false faith was to put them inside the local church through baptism and fellowship. What about Paul – the hero to every street preacher who ever waved a Bible on the street corner? What did Paul do? Did Paul just get an act of contrition from people? Or did Paul go out and establish churches which were lead by elders and pastors so that these people who now had a new faith were put in a safe place to mature so that they didn’t simply get choked out by the cares of the world?
And most importantly for the sake of Shane’s question: What does Paul Washer do? I asked Paul this question over dinner the night before the conference, and while I do not have his permission to share that conversation with you, here’s what it says at HeartCry Ministry’s web site:
The HeartCry Missionary Society functions as a partner with and facilitator between the autonomous churches and individual donors in the West and the indigenous church in some of the most un-evangelized areas of the world, to the end that the Gospel might be preached to every creature, the elect might be gathered from every tribe, tongue, people and nation, and strong local churches might be established among them. Our specific calling is to partner with indigenous churches of like faith and practice in the training and sending of missionaries for the establishment of mature autonomous local churches.Let me tell you something: this final objective if frankly absent from most open-air ministries in my experience. If you do not share this objective, you do not understand the preaching or the ministry of Paul Washer. You are not like him. You may not be a heretic, but you are not a person who is concerned about the discipleship and orthodoxy of others.
And to this end, I reiterate the words I quoted from John MacArthur in my message:
The best way to evangelize is to produce one reproducing disciple. You got that? Paul knew that this running around creating spiritual infancy all over everywhere and leaving a whole lot of spiritual babes lying on their backs screaming was not the way to go at it because they weren't mature enough to reproduce but better to spend yourselves on some individuals that they might become mature and that they might carry the Gospel. You know Jesus didn't speak to large crowds very often and even when he did he spoke in parables and they didn't understand it. He spent most of his time with 12 individuals, didn't he? That's really the heart of evangelism. He was committed to the priority of maturing the believers. He himself knew that was his calling.If that was Christ’s calling, what sort of disciple are you if that is not your calling? If you are truly concerned about the Gospel, you must be concerned about all its necessary consequences, and being a family member under the Fatherhood of God is absolutely one of them.
Comments are open. Mind your manners.