While getting coffee the other day, I had a conversation with a local pastor. This pastor talked to me about a church that he had planted four years ago. He explained how they had started, the associations which they are apart of, and who some of the men were that he looks up to in ministry. He went on to explain that he was still having some difficulty attracting congregants and was interested in seeing numerical growth in his church. As he shared some of his frustrations and discouragements in ministry to me, I asked if he planned on attending a large pastors conference early next year that will be held in his city. He responded by saying that the upcoming conference would be centered around preaching and he was “already good on that.” This pastor went on to tell me that what he was looking for was a conference focusing on how to attract more people to the Church.
Sadly, he is not alone in implementing this focus for his church. Now I do not know this man personally, and I only had one spontaneous conversation with him at a coffee shop. His problem, however, is not a difficult one to diagnose. He is interested in evangelizing the lost and building up his church by the edification of the saints, all the while looking for the next best church growth strategy, marketing trend, or smash hit program through which he intends to make this all possible.
The only way either one of these goals can ever be reached is through the recognition that Scripture alone is sufficient to both reach the lost and to build up the faithful saints within the Church. Scripture alone is sufficient for this. No program is needed. No marketing ploy is necessary. No hipster mentality will help draw more people to Christ.
If you take the focus off of the faithful proclamation of the inspired Word of God and expect great results, you will experience disappointment and failure every time. Effective evangelism comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Rom. 10:17). There are many ways in which we can edify each other as followers of Christ, but the main way in which we do that is through Scripture and reminding each other of the truth held in it’s pages. We are also edified by our elders and pastors and their commitment to faithfully teach and to preach the Word of God. Paul, when writing to the saints in Ephesus, said: and he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ (Eph. 4:11-12).
Why do we get caught up in this lie that 21st Century humanity needs to be approached differently when it comes to the the Bible, the Church, and the means by which we share gospel? Are we to believe that the human heart has changed and is no longer able to be impacted by hearing the Word of God without the assistance of some kind of new system or program? If that is so, are we to believe that God was unable to preserve His written word for mankind in a way that would be sufficient and authoritative for all humanity until the return of Christ?
Psalm 19:7-9 tells us that the law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.
The word of God is sufficient for all things. To place the focus anywhere else is to reveal that ultimately, you do not believe that. Our emphasis needs to be on continually expanding our knowledge of Scripture, using that knowledge to keep ourselves unstained from the world, remaining faithful to our first love which is Christ, and bringing honor and glory to God in everything that we do. We can be assured through Christ’s redeeming work in our lives that His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence (2 Peter 1:3).