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Resuscitating Evangelism Author Q&A

Andy Whisenant | Mar 5th
What prompted you both to write this book?

We share a common burden for today’s church and its leaders. Today, we see thousands of churches closing their doors every single year as fewer and fewer people make decisions for Christ and follow through with believer’s baptism and active church membership.

We see that the personal evangelism pulse of the majority of those in the church doesn’t match what Jesus has called us to. But perhaps the more immediate problem is that the church seems to be in denial. We’re like the person who knows something is wrong with his body but refuses to go to the doctor.  He continues to live as normal, and all the while the sickness gets worse and worse. The reasons for this may be many, but most likely the attributing factors boil down to two things: complacency and fear. 

Today, there seems to be more and more complacency among those who call themselves Christians.  The follower of Christ who does not share his or her faith may avoid doing so simply because at their core, they really don’t care about other people. 

Or perhaps it has less to do with our apathy and more to do with our fear.  Some of us avoid gospel conversations simply because we’re afraid. We’re afraid of what it might cost us, or we’re afraid of what the outcome may be. We’re afraid it won’t work, that we won’t know all the answers, that we’ll lose a friend, or that the whole thing will be embarrassing. Many times we keep our mouths shut because we’re afraid.  We’re afraid because we treasure our own comfort and identity more than our obedience to God. 

We wrote this book to address these concerns and to encourage church leaders as they lead their congregations who may be complacent, afraid or both. 

Who did you write it for?

Our primary audience is church leaders and others who have influence with and among Christians. 

We wrote this book with all followers of Jesus in mind. It was designed to remind us of what Jesus has called us to do and whom Jesus has called us to be.  It will also remind us where making disciples truly begins and show us our role in living out the Great Commission in our own context. 

What is the state of evangelism in the American church right now?

There’s little debate that the American church is on life support.  The further we’ve moved away from evangelism, the weaker our churches have become, lessening our influence in communities and cities across our nation. The reality today is that, most often, we are not sowing much gospel seed at all. 

 

Consider these statistics: 

  • “Study after study shows that most Christians have never shared their faith – most indicating that somewhere 90 percent of evangelicals have never shared their faith with anyone outside of their family. (Kind of makes you wonder how we get away with using the name “evangelical”!) (1)
  • In a recent Lifeway Research study, only 20% of churches in the US are growing, and only 1% are growing by reaching lost people. (2)
  • One measurement that the Southern Baptist Convention—the largest American Protestant denomination—uses to determine its evangelistic success is the number of church members it takes to produce one baptism.  Keep in mind that these ratios are not exact because many SBC churches fail to turn in their annual baptism numbers. But for the sake of comparison, in 1940, the SBC was averaging about one baptism per 25 members. (3) For those reporting, in 2017, the ratio was one baptism per 59 members (4), with a total of 254,122 people, which was 26.5% fewer than in 2007! 

If our churches do not discover soon how to overcome their obstacles for effectively doing evangelism, it will only be a matter of time until we become obsolete.

(1) J.D. Greear. Gaining by Losing. (Zondervan Publishers, 2015), p. 26.
(2)
Ibid., p. 27.
(3)
Charles S. Kelly, Jr. Fuel the Fire. (B&H Academic, Nashville, TN., 2018), p. 33.
(4)
 The Tennessee Baptist’s state paper, “Baptist and Reflector,” included this in Vol.183/No. 14; July 11,2018 in the article, “Worship attendance rises, baptisms decline in SBC congregations” on the front page.

Why should evangelism be so important to Christians?

Evangelism should be important to Christians because it’s important to Jesus. To truly love Jesus is to truly love what Jesus loves, and Jesus loves souls. The Bible tells us that Jesus came to “seek and save that which was lost.”  Jesus came as a sacrifice and our substitute making salvation available to all who call upon him.

What do you hope readers do after reading this book? What do you hope they take away from it?

Our prayer is that Resuscitating Evangelism will do exactly as the title implies: bring evangelism back to life in the church. We hope it fans the flame of evangelism in readers’ hearts, makes them more soul-conscious, and resuscitates a passionate desire to see more people saved than ever before.

Most Christians today seem to function with a disconnect between what we believe in our head and what we practice with our mouth.  We know that people need the Lord.  We know that lost people need to be saved. But for whatever reason, we fail to involve ourselves as part of God’s solution to this great problem.  It’s almost as if something within our soul has been severed, paralyzing us to what we’ve been called to do.  

We as believers have to acknowledge that God isn’t okay with this disconnect between our head and our mouth.  And if God isn’t okay with it, we shouldn’t be okay with it either.