Small, conservative churches today generally are not known for their evangelistic fire, especially when compared to the larger, mainline churches. The mainstream, left-leaning denominations have built their entire spiritual and doctrinal infrastructure after sociological and commercial models designed specifically for bringing in the unchurched. So, it can be hard for a small church to “compete.”
Yet, there was once a day where the theologically conservative led the charge in spreading the gospel, like Jonathan Edwards in the Great Awakening and his taking the gospel to the frontier’s Native Americans, or George Whitefield and his fiery, open-air sermons. But unfortunately, this is not the case with many conservative churches today.
With the exception of a few, these churches have largely been characterized by outsiders as being cold, stagnant, closed off, irrelevant, or even that they have an aroma of exclusivity and a sense of pride for being what they are. It would be foolish to brush off such criticism as a harsh misunderstanding without taking an honest look within one’s small church to determine if this criticism is true, because there certainly can be a coldness and the like in some churches that is causing them to be poor witnesses to the gospel.
It may be a struggle for small churches with limited resources and knowledge to reach a lost population that believes in things that are so contrary to what conservative churches believe. So, in the face of such a challenge, there is an often-succumbed temptation to remain “as is,” meaning, there is no real attempt to spread and grow.
The reason for remaining “as is” may vary from church to church, but the problem, admitted or not, may lie in one or more of the following things:
That we are too comfortable with the people in our church and resist any change that might “mess up” the social dynamic;
We lack the desire to speak the gospel to any outsider;
We have an “us versus them” mentality and desire to leave them to their own devises;
That if they want the truth, they will come in and get it;
We lack the confidence to speak the gospel because we lack a deep of knowledge of it;
That we are ignorant of evangelism’s rich, doctrinal importance for the Christian’s life, and ultimately the church’s life.
Whether or not a church recognizes any of these as their excuse for not evangelizing, there are demotivating factors like this at play somewhere in the individual church’s outlook. There is the question of how to get a church that may struggle with those things to be motivated to evangelize? Since from the heart flow the issues of life, then a right theology of evangelism should be the appropriate spark to motivate a congregation to evangelism. It begins with an understanding that if we truly love God, we will love our neighbor as well in an evangelistic way.
That being said, this discussion will first examine the believer’s love to God as a motivation for evangelism and then the believer’s love to man as a motivation for evangelism.