This article is not based on Scripture but on observation and conversation. The observation is of many assemblies in Ontario and Florida and some knowledge of others in a few States. The conversation is with those in leadership and others who are gifted as evangelists.
The conclusion is this: there seems to be few adults saved through assembly ministry and outreach. Those who visit this site “assemblyHUB” and contribute to it are those who love the Lord and the local assembly. Out of this audience, how many of us have been instrumental in reaching an unsaved adult and seeing him/her come to the Lord and ultimately into assembly fellowship? Beyond our personal involvement, how many of us know adults that were reached by someone in an assembly? In thinking of this question, limit the time frame to the past ten years.
It’s Not a Lack of Effort
There have been and are great efforts in North America and around the world to spread the Gospel and reach the lost. Out of all the efforts, how many adults or families have ended up in assemblies as a result? These comments are not in any way meant to diminish the efforts, many of which I have been and will continue to be involved with for the Gospel’s sake. From camp work, prison ministry, radio work, and websites, the gospel goes out and must continue to do so, as we know it is the power of God to salvation.
Experientially, the assemblies that are growing numerically seem to be doing so in a large part by attracting Christians and integrating them into assembly life. Most assemblies that I know that are growing in this way are not sacrificing principles for the sake of numbers. There is the attractiveness of Biblical preaching and Christ exalting ministry that is appealing to other believers.
It’s Not a Lack of Desire
Reaching the unsaved is a different matter. Every group of believers I know would love to see people saved, and they pray to this end. Most assemblies have some form of outreach or have engaged in gospel efforts over the years.
Our culture and society is changing and the methods of engaging people are different now than in a previous generation. In the past, people would come to gospel meetings or Sunday Schools, but now it is difficult to reach communities in this way. People by and large had some exposure to the Bible and perhaps had been to an evangelical Sunday School. Now our neighborhoods are populated by people with no Biblical knowledge or exposure and, in many cases, immigrants to this continent.
Time to Consider New Methods
The message is changeless and the principles must be upheld, but the methodology must be challenged. The challenge is how to reach an increasingly insular society with the Gospel, and even beyond this, how to get new believers integrated into assembly life.
As stated, these thoughts are based on observation, not Scripture, so there may be a reaction to the physical and the practical in what is a spiritual activity. I only put these things out for consideration and contemplation with no sense of judgment or condemnation but certainly with concern.
Editorial Note: Gary raises an important point in this article. In the coming months we will consider new methods in reaching the lost. We will explore new options for evangelism as we seek to win souls for Christ.