A Grace Approach to the Great Commission
The Philosophy, Practices, and Master Plan of Evangelism for Grace Lutheran Church
Philosophy & Practices
Definition: Evangelism + ‘Goodnewsing’. To proclaim the good news of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ so that people may have opportunity to respond in faith. Mark 16:15-16
Mission: The Church is a ‘missionary church’ by definition. Evangelism is essential to its purpose and identity. Matthew 28:19
Scope: The mission is worldwide, beginning at home and ever expanding. Acts 1:8
Message: ‘The gospel is the good news in which God tells me what He has done for me through Jesus Christ, especially in dying for my Sin and rising in Victory over death and Satan. ‘The law is that teaching of the Word of God which tells me what I am to be and what l am to do and not to do’ (Explanation to Luther’s Small Catechism Faith and Fellowship Press). God’s law is not the gospel and the two are not to be confused. Through the law, the Holy Spirit prepares people for the gospel, exposing their failure to be and do what God’s holiness requires and thus their need of the salvation the gospel proclaims. Romans 1:16-17; 3:19-20
Motive: The love of Christ for His lost people compels evangelism. II Corinthians 5:11-21
Ministry: Evangelism is the privilege and responsibility of all God’s people, each involved as the Holy Spirit uniquely gifts and directs. The local congregation is ‘evangelism headquarters’ where the people are taught and trained, their efforts supported and the results discipled. Evangelism is not only directed to those outside the Church, but also to those within the Church, for all are in continuous need of hearing the good news. Ephesians 4:7-8, 11-16
Ministries: Each ministry within the congregation identifies its unique responsibility to the larger evangelistic mission of the Church and plans its work accordingly.
Evangelist: The Holy Spirit gives some believers a special ability to lead people to receive salvation. This may be a public or private gift. .The evangelist uses the gift to serve the majority of the congregation, who may not possess the gift, but are involved in intentional, person-to-person relationships with neighbors. The evangelist also gives leadership, training, and support to the congregation’s work of evangelism. Ephesians 4:11-12 Acts 10
Works of Service: All God’s people are called to do good works in Jesus’ name, not simply as an evangelistic tool. Christians naturally wish to share the good news as they do their good works. Evangelism itself is the chief of good works, for salvation usually leads to changes in destructive lifestyles. Colossians 3
Cooperative Evangelism: We may participate in cooperative evangelistic endeavors with other congregations when their message and methods are consistent with ours. When Para-church organizations serve the congregation in the work of evangelism, not becoming a substitute for it or a distraction to its ministry, they may also be encouraged. Luke 9:49-50
World Mission: Supporting world mission efforts are an important part of our work because our mission is worldwide in scope and The Church must be planted where none now exists. Romans 10:14-15 Acts 13:1-3
Methods and Message: The methods we employ to reach those who do not yet believe the good news must be consistent with our message. Salvation is free and to be received freely, without compulsion or deception. Our methods should also be compatible with the personality of our congregation in order to be sustainable. I Thessalonians 2:1-8
Public Worship: The worship service is designed to enable the worshiping community to do so as one voice ‘in spirit and in truth.’ It is not its primary purpose to appeal to those who cannot worship in truth because they don’t know the Father. The Church must be the Church, not conformed to the culture in order to appeal to it. Otherwise the culture will not meet the Father in truth. Yet the good news is central to our worship and worshipers proclaim it to one another and celebrate it in the Sacraments. Those who do not yet believe are welcome, even invited to witness the work of the Holy Spirit in our presence. We conduct our services ‘in decency and order’ so that visitors to our fellowship will not be scandalized by what they observe. I Corinthians 14:20-33
The Role of the Congregation is to be ‘Evangelism Headquarters’ under the overall supervision of the Elder Board.
The Role of the Individual
The most natural and effective form of evangelism is ‘neighbor to neighbor’: the people of the congregation inviting those in their circles of influence, personally, intentionally, one by one, to hear the good news. John 1:35-51
- We identify those in our personal world who have no church to call home.
- We pray for them, asking God to draw them to Himself, offering ourselves as bridges Jesus may cross to meet them.
- We seek opportunity to build a relationship of trust with them.
- We invite them to appropriate ministry events.
The Role of Leadership
Leadership that combines those with the gift of evangelism and those with a gift of administration provides the necessary support for the congregation’s evangelistic ministry. Their responsibilities include:
- Proclaim Jesus’ Great Commission continually in the congregation.
- Provide training, encouragement, and personal ministry in support of the congregation’s evangelistic ministry. Provide necessary materials and resources.
- Organize prayer support.
- Provide for publicity of events, such as newspaper and radio ads, posters, flyers, website, and the like, which serve, but cannot substitute for personal invitations.
- Provide for the welcome and follow up of visitors.
- Provide for the discipling of new believers.
- Plan events specifically designed with those the congregation is seeking to reach in mind.
- Promote outreach directed ministries.
- Assist the various organizations of the congregation in setting annual goals and designing plans to achieve them that have evangelism in mind.
- Insure that the gospel is continually presented in effective ways in the ministry of the congregation.
Adopted by the Grace Lutheran Church Elder Board in 2004