Church Today | Church Growth: Active vs. Passive Evangelism
I remember one summer afternoon in Alaska when I had visited a beautiful area to enjoy an afternoon of fishing. I was overwhelmed by the emotion I felt from the sheer beauty of the mountainous location I had chosen to spend the day. I found a nice, smooth rock that had been rounded by years of flow, laid my fly rod down on the bank, and opened my backpack to eat the lunch I had packed myself.
I sat there contemplating the church I was blessed to pastor, being a fisherman not only of fish but also of men. I was mesmerized by the ministry that God had allowed my family and me to participate in. However, I was not prepared for what God was going to do that afternoon. It was not an audible voice, but it might as well have been. God spoke to me at that moment and said, “Prepare yourself. This is your last summer in Alaska.”
Needless to say, I was caught off guard. To leave a church when things were going well? It seemed impossible. God had been blessing us with growing Bible studies and attendance rates. My wife and I couldn’t believe that God would choose to move us in this way, at this time. It didn’t make sense. But soon, we would indeed receive the call to come to Indiana Bible College, and the rest is history.
There is no such thing as a permanent residence in God’s kingdom with ministry. We are not unmovable rocks; we are planted on the Rock. We are called to be flexible, to go wherever God wants us to in His timing. Ministry is not housed within four walls – there are byways and alleyways, of sorts, that God may commission us to travel in different seasons.
Our understanding of this points to a revelation of our identity. Our calling to ministry is not about what we can get out of this world. We are Apostolics who are committed to the call of God. We know what our future looks like. Even if we never acquire earthly possessions that hold much value, we are headed for mansions in heaven, streets of gold, and gates of pearl.
This knowledge helps us to be secure in who we are as Apostolics. We have the freedom to be secure in His calling, wherever it may lead us. This also gives us the freedom to remain within the boundaries of His Word. This security allows us to have a clear voice coming from our pulpits, to remain the people of “One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” (Eph. 4:5)
As Apostolics, our understanding of our identity is tied to others’ identities as well. We know the story of the prodigal son. In the stench of the pigpen, he had a revelation of his identity. He had ruined his life and spent his inheritance, but he knew whose son he was. He didn’t come back to a father who had abandoned the homestead or compromised his identity. The prodigals coming home must find us in the same condition. This can only happen if we are secure in our Apostolic identity.