Having just returned from helping to run the STAND 2012 Conference in Howick, Auckland (www.standforthegospel.org) – I have the main plenary speaker, Conrad Mbewe’s words, still ringing in my ears.
He spoke from Romans 10:10-17 and pointed to God’s message that:
1) Jesus Christ has already prepared the only way back to God, ie, through His death and resurrection – and that all mankind can do is tocry out to Him to save them – No more and no less!
2) That we, as Christians and the church are to proclaim the Gospel message FIRST, that Jesus forgives and saves, as the only message to unbelievers – over and above any social action or aid that we may also approach them with (as opposed to the present popular idea that our actions of love and aid can suffice without us having to voice the very specific challenge of God’s stated way back to Himself).
3) That we are toactively and deliberately evangelize the lost in our communities – not just as some half-hearted add-on or afterthought but in a well-planned and deliberate effort at obedience to God.
4) That we as Christian churches are to deliberately plant new churches in areas in our communities where no effective evangelical churches exist – so that there may be a broad and growing network of light in the darkness. This, in contrast to just being busy with our own religious activities and programmes or growing bigger and bigger churches – while the community around us remains in spiritual darkness. This may result in additional social outreaches (as in a Zambian example of converting a tip site into an area of sport and recreation with weekly gospel challenges to the participating community).
The challenge? Many churches, in Zambia – but also here in New Zealand, have stepped away from these core mandate missions of the church and have embraced social programmes and “religious practices” which do not have the Gospel at their core or God’s-work-done-in-His-way as their foundation.
The result? Weak and enfeebled Christians; an ineffective influence in a local community; the church becoming “voiceless” – not just in the community – but in national concerns which have moral consequences; dying churches – and more coffee shops in their buildings…
No – the task ahead is not easy! We have to approach it with a realism which is biblical (with the example of the opposition to the OT prophets and NT Apostles spelt out) but also in the knowledge that we have as our strength and at our head, One who is Almighty and who knows the end result for His Church triumphant – Christ Jesus!
This was originally posted at: http://calvynjonker.blogspot.co.nz/2012/10/the-return.html