The Bible does talk a lot about public evangelism. In Acts, for example, the apostles preach to large crowds of unbelievers on many occasions. Their preaching is often direct and, even, confrontational. (e.g., Acts 2:14-40, Acts 14, Acts 7:1-51).
However, there is also a component of relationship and community that is evidenced throughout the Scriptures. (1 Thes. 2:7-12, Acts 19:9, 1 Thes. 4:12).
In my own life, daily discipleship is much harder than one-time events. I don’t particularly mind large, attraction-based, event-oriented evangelism (though I question their effectiveness in today’s culture). However, one-time evangelism must be accompanied by daily, sacrificial, authentic, missional living. I find it much harder to mentor a student weekly than take teenagers to camp once a year. It is much more time-consuming to volunteer in the local middle school than throw a Superbowl party. I have to be vulnerable when I share my life with other people and that scares me. When you share life you share success and failure, strengths and weaknesses.
By God’s grace I will strive to demonstrate the gospel not just once in a while but every day.
I have again been reminded of a way to functionally undermine the authority of the Scriptures. Bible teachers or Christians frequently proclaim their allegiance to the Scripture and its truth yet often only vaguely reference its contents out of context or (worst) (mis-)use the text to suit their own ends; in these moments they demonstrate that all the talk about authority and sufficiency is smoke and mirrors, propaganda, and hypocrisy. I also see people consistently elevate and emphasize secondary material in the text above things of greater importance. Sometimes, wholesale theological fabrications are held in higher esteem than the gospel.
All of this reminded me of an excellent message by David Nelson delivered at SEBTS during convocation a few years ago. His message (“How to Undermine the Authority of Scripture”) gave four ways to functionally undermine the authority of the Bible:
1. Make loud claims about the inerrancy of the Bible and then fail to teach it all.
2. Insist that what is not in the Scripture is in the Scripture.
3. Neglect to teach what is in the Scripture or fail to give it the proper emphasis given by the Bible.
4. Make loud claims of the authority of Scripture and then fail to live a truly Christian way of life.
I would highly recommend listening to the entire message.
Do you ever cringe when someone says that God “told them something?” I think I’ve decided to put my fingers in my ears and stop listening.
“Preachers” can be the worst at this telling me that God has “laid something on their heart.” I am still a firm believer that the task of a pastor, when he gets up to speak to the church, is to communicate the intended meaning of the Scriptures.
If (and this is a huge if) God has “laid something on your heart,” then it sure better line up with the revealed message of God from the Scriptures.