In order to help us apply the appropriate ‘tests’ to the gospel work in which we are engaged a number of probing questions need to be asked.
1. Are we placing the responsibility on the believers to evangelise or on the unbelievers to come and be evangelised?
2. Do our church members in their daily witness see themselves as the principal agents in evangelism, seven days a week and all hours of the day, or do they think that the chief responsibility lies with the preacher in his ‘one-hour-a-week’ gospel service and sermon?
3. Are all our church members capable of giving a ‘reason for the hope’ that is in them? Can they with simplicity and accuracy articulate their faith? If not, why not? Where does the fault lie? We have seen that John Bunyan, shortly before he became a Christian, was greatly impressed by the ‘three or four poor women sitting at a door in the sun…talking about the things of God’. Are we to regard these women as peculiar and exceptional, in view of what the scripture requires of us? How can we ‘loose our stammering tongues to tell his love immense, unsearchable?’
4. Are our church membership and congregation socially representative of the community in which it is located? If not, why not?
5. How far has our gospel outreach become ‘introverted’ evangelism?
6. Are our methods of evangelism unfairly selective? Have we been guilt of a form of favouritism without realizing it? Apply this question to your own work among adults and also among young people.
7. In our evangelism generally do we make it our policy, as far as possible, to introduce people to the gospel first before we seek to introduce them to the church? Is it spiritually realistic to expect an unbeliever who is without spiritual life and understanding to share meaningfully in the worship aspects of an evangelistic service in order to hear the gospel?
8. If our church is located in a community which is partly or predominately working class, do any aspects of our evangelism take into account the phenomenon of ‘solidarity’ which is an important feature of working-class culture?
9. Do the methods of evangelism we currently employ reflect an awareness of the need to have a careful balance between ‘instruction’ and ‘persuasion’? Ideally we need to explore or create opportunities for ‘feed-back’ following our preaching or witness. We need to be able to gauge whether or not we have carried our hearers with us in an understanding of the gospel …
10. … Do we in our local churches have any policy for regularly reviewing the opportunities that we have and thought we ought to use? Are we able to make a calculated and spiritual assessment of the opportunities presented by a number of forms of evangelism? (149-151)
Urban Harvest is available here from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. This month IVP are publishing my latest book, Unreached: Growing Churches in Working-Class and Deprived Areas, was written with the Reaching the Unreached network.