Article X – The Great Commission
Section 1 The Call to Evangelism
We believe that all Christians, who have been saved by faith in Jesus Christ, are explicitly commanded to do the work of an evangelist (2nd Timothy 4:5), proclaiming the gospel message as ambassadors and witnesses to the world, and that this is our primary purpose in this world from now to the moment of our death (Matthew 4:19; Mark 1:17; John 4:35; Acts 1:8; 2nd Corinthians 5:18-20).
Section 2 The Method of Evangelism
We believe that the primary New Testament model for the spread of the gospel is discipleship and multiplication, committing the message of the gospel to faithful men who will be able to teach others also (2nd Timothy 2:2, Matthew 28:18-19; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:46-48).
We note that seed that falls on shallow soil springs up immediately because it has no root, but that the very cause of its rapid growth is also the cause for its sure and certain collapse (Matthew 13:1-6, 20-21). Not surprisingly, we note that, throughout church history, doctrinally shallow “revivals” and church growth movements have started with a bang and ended with a whimper, invariably sliding downhill into works-based religions, secularism, corrupt doctrine, or empty churches. These lessons of history bear stark witness to the truth of Jesus’ teachings. For seed to grow at a sustainable rate, it must have sufficient root to grow to maturity and sprout seed. Similarly, we believe that, for church growth to be meaningful and sustainable, new believers must be nurtured and discipled to a maturity of faith wherein they can multiply themselves by evangelizing and discipling another generation of believers. When a church is disproportionately focused on increasing its membership roles at the expense of imparting Christian doctrine and a knowledge of the gospel, each successive generation of “converts” becomes progressively less skilled in the Word, and more disposed to doctrinal confusion and error (Eph. 4:14). It is transparently obvious that when “converts” are not discipled, such “growth” is not sustainable, and that true conversion will rapidly give way to false professions, outward piety and religion among a growing number of adherents. Seed that cannot develop roots eventually dries up and withers in the sunlight.
We do not believe that one becomes a “Christian leader” by conducting “leadership training seminars,” imagining themselves to impart to others skills which they themselves lack. Neither does one become a “Christian leader” by simply by securing a position of authority within a church, such as a committee chairperson or “team-leader.” Neither does one become a Christian leader by securing a position of visibility within the church, such as performing in front of the assembly with the “drama team” or the “worship team.” We believe that Christian leaders are, first and foremost, men and women capable of skillfully handling the Word of God, and of imparting this skill to others (2nd Timothy 2:2).
To this end, we believe that an ongoing program of evangelism and church growth can only take place in an environment where Christian leaders are developed at a rate equivalent to the evangelism of new believers. Accordingly, we believe that an evangelistic program should be fueled by discipleship and multiplication. This is not only evidenced by Scripture and common sense, but also by the mathematics of exponential growth and multiplication.
Section 3 The Market Driven Church
Because the lost, as well as immature believers are, as a rule far more intent on satisfying their baser needs than feeding on the pure words of eternal life (John 6:26-27, 67-69), we note that they are particularly susceptible to those who would prey upon their immaturity. We note that many of today’s “mega-churches” are pastored by men with little or no formal theological training, no apparent knowledge of Bible doctrine (1st Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:7), and who are therefore incapable of discipling men and women to any real maturity in Christ. Without a real knowledge of Scripture, such “pastors” can appeal only to the baser needs of lost sheep and young believers, with messages of hope, prosperity, and simple formulas for “success,” or by pastoral cheerleading – cultivating an ongoing sense of anticipation, excitement, or purpose about what God is “doing” in their midst based simply on increasing numbers in weekly attendance or building construction programs. Not surprisingly, the congregants of the Market Driven Church, when questioned about their testimony of Christ, far too often demonstrate the lack of even a rudimentary understanding of the gospel.
We further note that a disproportionate percent of those having any theological maturity within the Market Driven Church came to a knowledge and a maturity in Christ somewhere else. By failing to disciple congregants into Christian leaders of sound doctrine at the rate proportional to its growth in raw numbers, the Market Driven Church can only sustain itself nominally within the framework of evangelicalism by siphoning mature believers from other church backgrounds. As a consequence, the Market Driven Church of the late 20th and 21st century consumes more than it produces. Any entity that consumes more than it produces is, by definition, bankrupt.
We believe that men who pastor great congregations while being devoid of knowledge of the gospel message but abundant with methods of “church growth” and “leadership training” are, at best, self-deceived about their abilities and value to the church (Romans 12:1-3). They typically exhibit narcissistic personality traits, viewing the people of God as an audience created to mirror back to them their self-perception of their own grandiosity. At worst, such men are intentional deceivers and ravenous wolves. We believe that such false prophets can be known by their fruit, both in the way of their own doctrine, and in the doctrine of the “disciples” whom they produce as the fruit of their ministry (Matthew 7:15-25). We deny that such men should be held up as shining examples of Christian leadership, and are, in fact, unfit to preach, or to pastor a church (Matthew 11:12, 20:24-28; 23:1-11).