An interesting conversation developed today in class. The school at Southern Seminary at which I am getting my degree is called the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth. The dean was asking us about what kind of connotations the term “Church Growth” gives. Some people, believe that the Church Growth Movement (labeling anything as creativity or different methodology as apart of this movement) is the devil. We just need to have church and let God be God and don’t worry about trying to grow God’s church.
I stated that I had more a problem with the distinction between “Missions” and “Evangelism.” Basically, for any evangelical in the United States, “evangelism” is sharing the gospel with someone inside the US, and “missions” is sharing the gospel with someone outside the US. Missions is evangelism with an African shirt on basically.
Think about this: if we sent a “missionary” to Africa to reach the lost, we would tell that missionary to learn the culture, do whatever it takes to be like them, to understand them, to draw them in. But the moment that we take that “African garb” off to reach someone in the States, people get squirrly about learning the culture, becoming palatble to those outside the church, understanding them, dealing with their issues. When it happens on the “mission” field, the motto is “whatever it takes.” But when it happens on the “evangelism” field, the motto is “whatever it takes as long as it doesn’t rock the boat.”
Many of the guys here at school are a part of churches that have a “heart” for the lost around them but are not willing to sacrifice any personal comfort for the sake of the lost. I pray for the day when all of God’s Church will rise up and say we will do whatever it takes to reconcile this dying world to the Savior Jesus.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.