Empowering The Twenty-First Century Church To Witness

In my travels across the country as a public evangelist and bible teacher, I have witnessed many churches which were once cold and forbidding or even lukewarm, become transformed into vibrant, inviting witnessing centers for Christ.

It has also become increasingly apparent to me though, that our overall evangelistic strategy needs to focus more on discipling people for Christ and emphasize less on convincing people to become members of the church.

It is easy for any one to become a member of a church, to record their name on the church roll when they are baptized; but to disciple them to become true followers of Christ, to carry out the distinct mission of the church is another matter.

This requires serious, structured, determined, prayerful effort by local church leadership, which should be implemented immediately after the evangelist and his team has left town. I have observed that in this area – discipleship – the church is critically failing to close the loop in the evangelistic cycle.

A new believer who is continually equipped, nurtured and discipled for Christ, should be encouraged to go immediately to his family, friends and coworkers, to share his faith and to make new disciples. If God’s Witnessing Church adopts this formula, there will be a revival and reformation in God’s church of the likes we have never seen.

I am convinced that for our churches to become truly empowered to witness, it will need to start with each individual member. Our members are in need of training on how to share their faith, as many were never taught to do so when they became members of the church. Someone might argue that the early disciples received no training, so why train the church today? This is not entirely true. We have to remember that the disciples spent three and a half years with the greatest Teacher ever known to man.

As Christ went about preaching, healing and teaching, almost every incident encountered was an object lesson for the disciples. As recorded in the gospel, there were times when Jesus sent them out on their own to witness as part of their training. You will recall, on one particular occasion He sent out the twelve, on other occasion He sent the seventy.

As Jesus sent them, He even told them what to say and for some reason, He would always send them two by two. Thus careful scrutiny of the gospel shows that Christ was consciously training His disciples for the gospel work which they were to carry on after His ascension. The training that Jesus gave his disciples was indeed successful as seen at Pentecost.

As the disciples stood boldly as witnesses for Christ, many hearers, including former skeptics, confessed that indeed these Christians had been with Jesus, that is to say, even though these were unlearned, ignorant men, in the sense that they had never attended the religious schools of the Pharisees, it was obvious that these men had received some training by their association with Christ.

After receiving training from AFCOE (Amazing Facts College of Evangelism) in the dynamics of church growth and evangelism, I created a church training seminar called The Witnessing Church, which has proven to be very popular with many churches across the nation. The phase, “Witnessing Church”, as used in our seminars, simply refers to a body of believers that is actively mobilized for the work of evangelism and outreach, through seed sowing, bible study outreach, reaping events, follow-up and discipleship. In other words, a Witnessing Church is one that has adopted a basic framework for evangelism, or a cycle of evangelism, in its outreach plan.

We are told by the Lord’s servant that, “There should be no delay in this well-planned effort to educate church members.”1 I believe with all my heart that as God’s people become better equipped to reap the harvest, that our stories will one day be seen as the continuation of the unfinished work of Acts!