Friday, October 06, 2006

Do family centered churches slight evangelism?

The afternoon session is a panel discussion asking, whether, in our focus on family-church integration, we are ignoring the Great Commission outside of our church walls. The panel includes Voddie Baucham, Kevin Swanson, Jeff Pollard, William Einwechter, Geoff Botkin, and Scott Brown. Doug Phillips is moderating.

Voddie Baucham says that making disciples of all nations (Mt 28), in the Greek, plainly means to gather a people from Rev 5:9? all peoples and national groups. Doug asks if that means every person, or every people group? Voddie says it is the old Calvinism/Arminianism debate, as well as the Pelagian/Augustinian debate. As a soteriological Calvinist, Voddie says he believes it does not refer to every individual else it would be universalism. Doug says this is why some efforts have been made to target entire nations by evangelizing the leaders, as happened in a five year period in Hawaii.

Einwechter says that Genesis shows God creates all people, the Flood destroys all but those on the ark, and then as national groups are formed after the Flood, God chose a single nation, the Jews. Now after Messiah's coming, Jesus says the time of preparation is now complete, and it is time to go and bring in every nation for the Kingdom.

What about making disciples and baptizing them, teaching them to observe all things? Genesis to Revelation? If the Bible teaches jurisdictions for family, fathers, and churches, as presented here, then doesn't the Great Commission demand the message of this conference?
Botkin, Col 1:28, admonishing and teaching every man requires we go back to Jesus' command to teach all things.

Phillips: A great concern launched against emphasizing the family is that it is distracting from the more important role of reaching all people. Maybe part of our problem is that our definitions aren't right in our understanding of the Great Commission. Comments?

Einwechter: There is only one imperative in the Commission, it is not to evangelize but to teach (to make disciples); the rest are other grammatical structures.

Pollard: The primary issue is the definition of the Gospel. The presentation “let Jesus come into your heart” is not the gospel. Evangelism is the declaration of the Gospel. It always begins with God; look at Paul in Acts. Christ makes no sense until you understand who God is. Judson had to explain who God is before he could reach the Buddhists for Christ. Secondly, we need to make men understand they are lost. Third, there are many false Jesuses but only the God-man is the Jesus who saves. Finally, the notion of discipline and discipleship is key. It is a message of people bowing to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Phillips: How do you present the Gospel in ninety seconds?

Pollard: We don't see this, really, in Scripture. Paul taught, Peter taught. In ninety seconds, the most I could do would be to try and convince the man of how lost he is and what Christ has done to save sinners.

Phillips related a story of his conversation witnessing to a gang member in a parking lot, following up with his wife's talks with a stewardess on a plane who was amazed at their large family.

Brown: I've never been in a church in my life that didn't have a problem with evangelism. We tend to turn inward and isolate ourselves. This passage in Mt 28 encompasses a broad range of evangelistic activities, from the cradle to grave spiritually. One is sharing the gospel with one who has never been born again; one plants, another waters, and so forth.

Every church I've been in has problems with every stage of this process. But this is a word of inspiration and encouragement.

If we miss any part of the discipleship process. If you take a 4000-member church with the average birth rate and the average fall out rate of the youth, in five generations you only have one believer left. That's what happens if you leave out the discipleship factor.
From what we can see, the people who are homeschooling their kids are exactly opposite; we are retaining 70-80% of our children as disciples, while other families in the churches are losing 70-80%.

Phillips: My brother is a missionary in Kenya and has literally laid down his life for people that he doesn't know but loves nevertheless. We believe in missions. My question is what is more important, to send missionaries to Bolivia or to disciple our families?

Swanson: The Scripture says we can't lead the church unless we lead our families first. The Great Commission says not to make converts but to make disciples. Should we speak to 10,000 people for three hours, or three people for 10,000 hours? The Great Commission says we spend
the time to fully instruct the three disciples.

Phillips: Do any of you have hypotheses or comparison of holding big concerts and how many disciples are made that way versus slogging away at discipling our families.

Swanson: It should be obvious that the last 40-60 years Christianity has done absolutely nothing to impact the culture. The culture is even worse off than it was. I think the generations will tell.

Phillips: What does it look like in a family integrated church to see the full-orbed Great Commission played out? We've already said that home education is serious obedience to the Great Commission. What does evangelism outreach look like in a family integrated church?

Einwechter: We need to get an audience first. When Paul preached, he went to the synagogues first to the people who had been prepared, not just handing out tracts in the streets. In the New Testament, too, they had miracles. This is how they got an audience. Today the churches have lost their audience. I contend that a today, a well-ordered family is a miracle that will get an audience.

Baucham: We emphasize at GCBC that our hospitality is our witness. Most people haven't seen a family like that, and we have them at our table. Also, every week we pray for an unreached people, and pray that God will raise up families in our midst to go and live among these people. We hope that these homeschooled kids who have the training in language will gain the passion to translate the Bible into other languages. We hope that children who grow up in this kind of church will never lose a passion for reaching the nations.

Phillips spoke about a housebuilding project done as a family mission in Mexico. He also talked about the Browns' home as an epistemologically self conscious family integrated home, designed to make a home where kids spend the least amount of time alone in their rooms and the most interacting with grandparents, guests, and their family. “It is a revolving door of evangelism,” he said, where there are always visitors being discipled. He also encourages fathers to intentionally decorate and supply their homes; when visitors come, what books will they see? What music will they hear? What family routine will visitors be welcomed to?

Swanson: What homeschooling is to the family, hospitality is to the church.

Phillips: Is there something problematic about building churches which focus on overseas missions, which is God honoring and commanded in the Bible, but ignores the neighbors?
Swanson: We live in an age without relationships. People are afraid to build close personal relationships. We do that over the dinner table, and over time, that's where people get saved.

Botkin: About your (Doug's) message about recovering the jurisdictions of church, government, and family, I think if discipleship is central, we will do it. Voddie made it crystal clear: if we don't have obedient children, we have not discipled them and Christianity will die. One thing I see in my lifetime is that when men in the church are being trained to be leaders, then they become teams, and when they get out just a little bit, Jerusalem, Judea, just a little ways out, it seems a very full-orbed discipleship and relationship for those men and the church.

Brown: What does family worship have to do with evangelism? It has everything to do with it. When worship happens, there is joy in the Lord, satisfaction with God, happiness in all His ways. If a father can help his family along with that, there will be worshipers, and we talk about what we love. It is the cradle of evangelism because it opens the mouth.

Phillips: I have never told my children they need to accept Jesus in their heart, for reasons already mentioned, but I pray over them continually, “Lord, may these children understand the wickedness of their sin, and their need for forgiveness.” I tell them they need to fly to Jesus for that forgiveness.

He talks about the story in Christie's Old Organ, a book by Lamplighter, and how it impacted one of his sons.

How can we know what it will be, God's lynchpin moment? There is a mystery about how God works in our hearts. The simple act of reading, talking, exhorting, has an impact. Do you know where you stand before God? Not just because Daddy says it, but because you individually need to be sure? We each of us have the opportunities to shepherds, evangelists, and missionaries to our world.

John G. Paton led thousands to Christ, but the real story is his father. He was a sock maker and never got to leave his little town, but he dreamed of what he could do for Christ, and he led his family in worship. And his children led thousands to Christ.

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