Evangelism and retention myths
After leading and teaching evangelism for 25 years and in several countries on three different continents, I have seen some misguided views about the practice of evangelism. I call them myths. What follows are a few of them and why they are misleading myths.
Myth # 1—Evangelism is an event
For the Christian, evangelism is a lifestyle—thus, a process. For the local church, evangelism will consist of a well-orchestrated plan that may include community outreach, prayer for the lost, friendship contacts, Bible studies with nonmembers, youth and school evangelism, and other components.
Myth # 2—The objective of reaping meetings is to have them
Many pastors and church members believe that the objective of evangelism is to be able to say they held meetings. But the objective of evangelism is not meetings; the objective is a transformation! Everything should focus on giving people the opportunity to make decisions. When decisions are made, a transformation is possible.
Myth # 3—Two to six nights of meetings is sufficient
Many churches hold public evangelistic meetings for two to six nights. They do so, in part, because they believe that having more meetings will meet with resistance from the members because everyone is always busy. But this is a very dangerous myth. It is nearly impossible for people to make decisions for Christ, His teachings, and His church in such a short time and with so little exposure to God.
Myth # 4—The extended series of meetings no longer work
Years ago, most fields had meetings several nights each week over multiple weeks to cover all the major teachings of the Bible. If evangelism is a carefully planned process and the messages are biblical and Christ-centered, the Holy Spirit will make sure to send guests, as well as members, to attend. People will keep coming. People need enough exposure to the Bible to make lifesaving decisions.
Myths # 5—Weekend-only reaping meetings are good
Having meetings only on Sabbath and Sunday may be convenient for the church members and pastor, but it is not good for those we want to reach. People need consistent and sufficient exposure to God in order to decide to follow Him. So reaping meetings should be held at least four times a week, and for at least two weeks. And on Sabbath, at least two meetings should be held, dealing with two different topics.
Myth # 6—Public evangelism is no longer necessary
Many today believe that since “Christ’s method alone” has to do with personal evangelism (see The Ministry of Healing, page 143), there is no needfor the public preaching of God’s Word. However, when people hear the preaching of the Word, their chances of making eternal decisions are increased consider-ably. Public appeals in the church work hand in hand with personal appeals in the home. The Holy Spirit works in a special way for those who hear the faithful preaching of His Word.
Myth # 7—People cannot come for evangelistic meetings during the week
We may think it is too much to expect people who work long hours to go to evangelistic meetings after work. But people seeking answers will adjust their schedules. If they are prepared to make sacrifices, shouldn’t we?
Myth # 8—Practical topics on family or health are best for public meetings
Some Adventists assume that because they have heard prophetic preaching many times, it would not be of interest to nonmembers, therefore we should offer only health and family life presentations. However, this is misleading. God raised the Seventh-day Adventist Church as a last-day church of prophecy. It is our sacred duty to share the prophecies of Scripture with everyone.
Myth # 9—The biggest challenge to evangelism is lack of time and resources
It is true that lack of time for church members and lack of resources in the church are challenges. But the biggest challenge to evangelism is the Laodicean condition of the churches. True spiritual renewal is our greatest need. Once Jesus is first in our lives, others will become important to us. And regardless of lack of time or resources, we will find the time and the way to reach out to others.
Myth # 10—Converts from public evangelism leave the church soon after
Statistics show that many more members leave the church who were born to Adventist parents and raised as Seventh-day Adventists than people who became Adventists through public evangelism. It is true that some leave the church after conversion, but that is often due to lack of proper indoctrination or careful assimilation of the new believer. In many cases, the fault lies with the church. If the pastor pro-vides a good mentoring plan for new believers and seeks to engage them in ministry soon after their baptism, most new converts will remain active in the church.
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*This is a condensed version of “Evangelism and Retention Myths” first published in the November 2018 issue and “Dangerous Myths about Evangelism” in the December 2018 issue of the NSD Ministerial Newsletter. Used with permission