The Changing Trends between Church and Culture and its Effect on Evangelism, Past, Present, and Future
The coming of Christ was prophesied in the bible by several prophets who are found in the Old Testament. Jesus Christ appeared to people to proclaim the good news of how he had come to save humanity. After the Death of Jesus Christ, the news of the goodness of God was still spread by those with faith in Christ. The apostles were left behind with responsibility of spreading the word of God to the whole world. The gospel has been written in the four gospel books which are namely; Mathew, Luke, Mark and John. The books were written by the Disciples of Christ, who independently wrote according to what they had seen. The scenes witnessed were used to spread the word of God to the masses.
From the gospel books, evangelists get their references while preaching to the people. In reference to Romans 1:4, Jesus Christ was declared the Son Of God through the Holy Spirit and by His resurrection. His followers bore witnesses of the excellence of the Jesus Christ. Evangelism is regarded as a process and not an event that happens in an instance. It is for several reasons that the Disciples of Christ went around bearing witness about Jesus and his great works. The reasons were that the disciples had deep and abiding faith in God and Jesus. Jesus Christ had commanded them to take the good news to the entire world. The promise by Jesus was always to be with his people as they carried out the command.
Today the church is viewed as being evangelistic and a modern advancement of the evangelism that took place within the first centuries after the death of Jesus Christ. Some believers of Christianity are moving to further places with the sole purpose of sharing their Christian faith. Other Christians have sacrificed their entire life to do church missions outreach because they value the power of evangelism in growing the number of believers. There is a category of Evangelism referred to as individual evangelism. Individual evangelism is practiced among believers who share their individual faith with acquaintances or allies. However, evangelism today seems not to be much effective, since many believers fear seclusion by non-believers who at times happen to be their close friends.
Evangelism in today’s church may be viewed as having a misunderstanding on salvation. The reason for misunderstanding of salvation has been brought out as deliverance from guilt rather than deliverance of sin. Though the purpose of the church is not mainly evangelism, it is considered to be the best medium to proclaim the salvation to other people. The reason for salvation has also been diluted and left many reluctant towards believing the words of evangelists. The evangelism should largely consider taking the gospel as a full package to both believers and non-believers; who have become victims of ignorance, compromising associations and ignorance.
The word evangelism conveys many meanings, all at the same time. When the word evangelism is used, many people seem to envisage a preacher asking them to turn to God in a shrewd manner and stating all manner of ultimatums. Gospel crusades are also likely to come into mind when you mention the word Evangelism. However, it is truly important to understand what evangelism means in detail. Well, Evangelism is persuading other people to trust in God through Jesus Christ.
Evangelism may also be defined as the proclamation, announcement and preaching about Jesus Christ and the gospel as a whole. According to etymology of English words, the word evangelism comes from euaggelion that is a Greek word. The Greek word means “good news” or “gospel” depending on the context of use. The verb form of the word in Greek, euaggelizesthai, means “to tell good news” or “to announce”. Marturein is another Greek word that means “to bear witness.” Theologies state that the Greek word has appeared more than fifty times in the Bible to mean differently. Evangelism includes warnings, explanations and calls in the communication of the gospel.
The good news evangelized concerns the promises by the messiah. The promises were set to bring salvation to the people of God, make the salvation available to the gentile world and to have Jesus Christ as the Sovereign King of everybody indiscriminately. Apostle Paul, from the bible, was seen to walk from one city to city another preaching the good news about the Lord Jesus Christ. He would give testimonies and by that spread the news about the love of God. This events were in the early days of evangelism and may be referred as the period of the cradle of evangelism.
Clarifying the Importance of Evangelism
As part of many works of the church, Evangelism is paramount but it is often overlooked. Evangelism should be prioritized by the Church of Jesus Christ since it is most effective in proclamation of the good news of salvation to the masses. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said that he intended to build his church. He laid a good foundation with His ministry as well as His life. Jesus Christ focused on saving and seeking the lost since he was the savior. In the same way, Christians are tasked with the same mission of spreading the news of salvation and the gospel as a whole. The good news spread by the Christians is intended to encourage everyone to respond to the call to salvation, as well as build on the number of followers of Christ.
The importance of evangelism has been forgotten besides been clearly stated in the bible. It is due to the ignorance, by many Christians, that the purpose and effectiveness of evangelism in honoring the command by Jesus Christ has been overlooked. Verses in bible, Matthew 28:19 & 20, portray The Great Commission which is a message and the command by Jesus Christ pertaining evangelism. Statistics sadly show that very few members of the Christian Church are taking part in evangelism. Many people worldwide are ignorant of the good news of salvation. The evangelists are ones who reach some of these people to let them learn about the salvation brought to the world by Jesus Christ.
Evangelism is an important part of God’s mission to save us from sin. The original purpose of evangelism since the first century Anno Domino was to bring many people to spiritual light. Evangelism plays a big role in letting people have a chance to choose the righteous path of salvation. Jesus defined God’s mission as one that would bring good news to the poor and lost. He, Jesus, was sent to proclaim the release of every human being from captivity as well as the recovery of sight from spiritual blindness. Evangelism, therefore, ensures that the purpose of enlightening the ignorant gets to be fulfilled.
Evangelizing entails the task for every Christian to spread God’s word. This fact makes evangelism the best media to be used by God’s messengers. The message of salvation has made several impacts on lives of many since many people have found hope in eternity. It is the hope, and desire of God that all of mankind should be saved, and thus it is out of love that he sent Jesus to die on the cross for the sins of man. However, not everybody accepts salvation. It is the effort put by evangelism that brings more people to accept salvation.
Therefore, it is important to state that the coming of Jesus is also the reason that evangelism is important. Jesus left instructions and asked everybody to live in respect to the will of God. The Christian teachings clearly explain that; evangelism is important since believers will be held accountable for souls that perished as a result of the believer’s failure in playing his or her evangelistic role as a Christian. Evangelism, therefore, is important since it gives a guide to mankind and helps believers of the word of God avoid the unrighteous path of spiritual destruction.
The Main Problem of Changing Trends of Church and Culture
There have been changes in trends of the Christian Church and culture. There is an immense temptation to disregard the change in trends and their impacts on Christian operations. The ignorance is overwhelming, and it is due to idea that the trends might demand restructuring of the Christian doctrines. The modes of performing various Christian activities are what the culture is. Some cultural practices that have come with time are however dangerous and in dilution of Christianity. Other trends immerge as self-centered and hurtful in the long-run.
Changing trends need to be observed, beginning with the contradictory trends. The number of conversions has reduced by the years, a trend that is not in line with historical trends. The current fragments of evangelism are changing. Many evangelistic parties are turning to starting up micro-grouping with which they divert attention from the spiritual purpose to desires that are earthly. This trend is a problem resulting from self-centrism and rebellion. There is an increasing trend in how social concerns consume churches. The gospel is seen, to some extent, to overshadow the passion of Christians with regard to social justice. For instance, many Christians have forgotten the importance of sacrifice over obedience in serving God.
Another trend that is proving problematic to the Church is the tendency to emphasis discipleship much over the gospel. Today, in Christianity, many evangelists tend to overemphasize on asking people to follow Jesus but leave the word of God with little content spread to the masses. It is discouraging to see that attention by the Church has concentrated on discipleship more than is required of a saved Christian in terms of virtue. Salvation should be considered as self-abandonment for the sake of the deity, mission and the work of Jesus Christ. However, it is commendable to see that most Christians are learning to cope with the change in trends and the general Christian culture.
Some ideas of theology have made part of Christian culture. Though not all theological elements affect evangelism, some have affected it rather diversely. One idea that has adversely affected evangelism is Universalism. Universalism is one theological view that has left many people, especially new converts, perturbed and unable to understand basic values of Christianity. This has made evangelism seem handicapped and less effective in spreading the good news of salvation.
i. Universalism Defined
Universalism is referred to as the theological view that argues that in the end everybody will become saved. Some arguments also suggest that eternal hell or hell per se is inexistent. In Christianity, universalism still holds the position that everyone will ultimately experience salvation through Jesus Christ, in disregard to the faith he or she has in Christ. Universalism claims that the qualities of God’s justice, sovereignty and love full require that everybody should be saved. It also claims that the issue of eternal punishment and suffering is a doctrine that is false. Salvation is further explained as being saved from sin and not from hell as perceived by many people.
Universalism in Christianity seems to majorly take two forms. However, both forms still insist that hell is inexistent. The first form of universalism teaches that the punishment for the unrepentant will in the future occurrence. Their punishment is explained to be of the same proportion as the sin they committed morally. In addition, this teaching does not maintain the theological thought that salvation is merited through punishment. The other form of Christian universalism teaches that the punishment of one’s sins is for the purpose of moral purification. Those who teach this form of universalism hold that the purification is not in any way justification for salvation. However, for those who did not put their trust in Jesus during their lifetime will lose a reward.
The Universalist in Christianity claim to stand by principles of historic Christianity. These tenets include the Trinity (God the father, the son and the Holy Spirit) and salvation by grace. Further examination is needed for the purpose of understanding the diversity in beliefs by Universalists. Universalists claim to assert the inerrancy and inspiration of the Bible, the existence of only one God, and Jesus as the sole Son of God. They also proclaim that the Holy Spirit is God’s theophany and that salvation only comes with the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Universalism in Christianity holds an orthodox position on the issue of the accuracy of the Bible. The Universalist also tend to side with Arianism and modalism. Arianism suggests that Jesus was created, and there is only one God and modalism suggests that God takes various forms that include the Holy Spirit and the Son. In the opinion of many Christians, modalism is considered heretical. The point of Jesus being God’s only son is affirmed by Universalist but in a very twisted manner. They suggest and teach that Jesus Christ is an image and reflection of God’s essence. On the same note, they insist on stating that the Father far much superior to the Son and the Holy Spirit. To some extent the true divinity of Jesus Christ is denied by most of the Universalists, though not all do deny. Others hold the position that; though Jesus Christ is not God he is also divine.
Regarding the matter of Jesus’ resurrection, the opinion is divided among the Universalist. Most of them affirm the resurrection of Jesus whilst others claim that Jesus never rose from physical death but only assumed to dwell with the Father in heaven. This is taken as unacceptable and of denial to basic Christian doctrines. As for the affirmation that the Holy Spirit represents God’s theophany, there is an overwhelming denial over the Holy Spirit’s personhood. Personhood in the sense of the ability to talk, self-awareness, will and reason. However, it is unfair to overlook the position Universalists hold in affirming the third party in the Trinity is the Holy Spirit.
Christian Universalists proclaim there is only salvation in accepting Jesus as the Savior. However, this proclamation is a contradiction of faith since they affirm Jesus as not divine and inferior in relation to God the father. The faith of the Universalists may be deemed to be useless because they are violating the command of worshiping one God (Exodus 20) by worshiping Jesus, who in their suggestion is a god. It is justified to rule out Christian Universalists as non-Christians who are differential in their doctrine and mannerism of worship. On another theological perspective, Universalists to some extent believe that, even after rejecting Jesus in a one’s lifetime, there is a second chance in another life.
It is important to state that some Universalists have rather unique and controversial beliefs. They believe in consciousness after death while others disapprove of this belief and idea. A fair portion of the Christian Universalists believes in a punishment of sinners that is limited only to moral chastising, but not physical torture by hellfire. In addition, the Universalists also believe that the soul is purified in the presence of the Father during the limited punishment period in the afterlife. In conclusion, Universalism in Christianity is unorthodox and fallacious, and it cannot be termed as being Christian. Christian Universalist and their beliefs should be avoided at all cost.
Most ideas derived from Universalism, or better still all, are a threat to evangelism. The ideas breed bad taste in non-believers who end up disregarding the importance of salvation. It is therefore advisable for anyone spreading the word, to stick to the scriptural writings in the holy bible. If by any degree Universalism is engaged in the process of evangelism, the good news will end up undelivered and diluted. It is the responsibility of those spreading the news of salvation to be careful not to refer to this wavering doctrine.
For this research I used several academic sources, most of which were theological. For further research a looked through the internet for a better view on the subject of evangelism. I intended to get the various opinions of the Church fraternity therefore I visited various church-based websites. The books and journals I used provided various facts for my research and helped me deliver substantial content as required. The gathered the information at random by using guidelines of the exact topic I was researching on. I prepared the information by going through the raw content and deciding on which one was relevant.
In accordance to my plan, I gathered information read keenly through each piece of information, wrote a rough draft and wrote this final research paper. I was keen to compare the requirements of the research with what I got just to ensure accuracy in delivery. I encountered various reviews by authors which gave me basic ideas in different topics of my research. I also read the bible for the reason of having a clear overview on Evangelism. I discovered that there was much information about the subject matter of which I was grateful since I am able to give enough information.
My research topic is Evangelism. I intend to expound on various areas of discussion surrounding Evangelism. In this research, there are various choices of methodology I will use. I will spare enough time for the research since it is a fundamental resource I cannot overlook. I will do my research using academic material relating to my topic of research. I will also collect my information by inquiring information from professionals in my field. I plan to engage evangelistic parties through their various emails and get their random opinion on the topic of Evangelism.
I will record all my observations and findings on paper and later within the research paper writing period. I will arrange the data for my final copy with intention of having informative and adequate content in terms of quality. In my opinion, I expect a few challenges which I will counter professionally. It is in the best interest of this research that I will readily engage discussions with parties involved in evangelism. Therefore, I am going to exercise my best communication skills for purposes of good public relations and acquisition of information smoothly.
Evangelism is a topic that may be termed as very diverse. With reference to the various publications, it is vivid that the topic of evangelism is averagely understood. Though some publications were very clear overview on evangelism, some seem to have blurry information about the subject matter. The issue of evangelism transition from the past, present and opinion on its future status is one that caught my attention. Spreading the good news of salvation has taken different forms in the past together with the means by which it is practiced. Presently, Christianity puts lesser effort on evangelism than may be seen from past events.
Just like in other researches, challenges may affect the research. In this research, some information withheld by reliable sources was difficult to record in a single inquiry. After doing further research, I learnt that the information withheld was also blurry according to the sources that finally gave me the information. Whatsoever it gave me more reason to research on evangelism and clarify to those who find it rather confusing for whichever reason. Personally, I also discovered that digging deeper on the topic made me understand the topic better. I however commend the current information available since most of it is easy to.
The purpose of this research to discuss evangelism was attainable since the church openly highlights over the same. However, it is important to note that the future of evangelism does not look bright as perceived by many Christians. Categorically speaking, evangelism is noticeably a topic that receives very little attention. This calls for an awakening by Christians all over the world. Leaders of Christianity should readily encourage evangelism as a way to reach out to the non-believer. In this way, the good news of salvation will spread effectively and efficiently with utmost respect for the Church and what it stands for.
Breen, A. C. Evangelism. Armadale: Reformed Guardian, 2008.
Assiter, Alison. Revisiting Universalism. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.
Tuttle, Robert G. The Story Of Evangelism. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2006.
Ayad, Mariam F. Coptic Culture. Stevenage, U.K.: The Coptic Orthodox Church Centre, 2012.
Währisch-Oblau, Claudia. The Missionary Self-Perception Of Pentecostal/Charismatic Church Leaders From The Global South In Europe. Leiden: Brill, 2009.