Why Are Christians ‘Out of Commission’ When It Comes to the Great Commission?
Author and Pastor Dr. Paul Chappell Explores 10 Reasons Why Christians May Be Hesitant to Share Their Faith with Others
LOS ANGELES—Evangelist Billy Graham entered his heavenly home just over a month ago, and in their remarks about his faithful service to God, many commented that Rev. Graham would want Christians to continue their commitment to the Great Commission—sharing the Gospel with others around the world.
But are they taking up the challenge? Some may, but many Christians rationalize and find excuses not to start the sometimes-difficult conversation about beliefs.
Dr. Paul Chappell is the author of “Out of Commission,” where he invites Christians to “look under the hood” and examine why they don’t witness for Christ as they should, why local churches are neglecting soulwinning and discipleship, and how believers can get back to making Christ’s last command the first priority.
“You’d be hard-pressed to meet a dedicated Christian who doesn’t say the greatest work on Earth is evangelization,” says Chappell, who has served as senior pastor of Lancaster Baptist Church for the past 31 years and is also the president of West Coast Baptist College. “But, while all of us give lip service to evangelizing and discipling, the effect of our labor seems woefully behind. Somewhere there is a disconnect between the priorities we claim and the actions we practice. Something is broken—or maybe just out of commission.”
Specifically, in Chapter 2 titled “Why We Don’t Evangelize,” Chappell addresses 10 reasons why Christians might provide for not being more outspoken about their faith.
- Pride. What holds us back from handing out a Gospel tract or inviting someone to church? What are we afraid of? Rejection. There’s something in all of us that wants to be liked. And most of us have discovered that telling people they are sinners on their way to Hell and that Jesus is the only way to Heaven isn’t the most popular message.
- Priorities. Our priorities most naturally center around ourselves. We do what we enjoy, what is comfortable and what brings satisfaction. Our priorities are both selfish and temporal—relative to us and to the here and now. It takes a conscious decision and continued growth in spiritual maturity to shift our priorities to the eternal.
- Misunderstanding What the Gospel Is (and Isn’t). While communicating the Gospel with love is vital, the Gospel itself is not simply a love for our neighbors. It is not social programs, and it is not measured in terms of the world’s perception of us. When the Gospel is misunderstood, Christians find themselves in activities that have nothing to do with actually declaring the Gospel.
- Lack of Leadership. Beyond preaching eternal priorities, spiritual leaders must live these priorities. Those committed to leading their churches in evangelism must do just that—lead. If people don’t see leaders working at reaching the lost, engaging in soulwinning meetings or training new Christians in evangelism, they will not have a pattern to follow.
- Progressive Models. An unbiblical model of evangelism has arrested Christians’ attention and emulation—the “progressive church.” Definitions vary, but by and large, the progressive church in America isn’t keen on the confrontational evangelism practiced in the New Testament. Many progressive pastors do preach the Gospel in their services, but they’re not often out in the community confronting men and women with their need for salvation.
- Church Programs. Just like long-married couples, churches tend to accumulate “stuff”—in bulletins, calendars and programs. And this “stuff” doesn’t really relate to the central purposes of the church. Like decluttering the home, churches must take a hard look at what is truly important. Otherwise, it will be the church itself that prohibits the spread of evangelism.
- Division. Sometimes it’s neither priorities nor programs that distract Christians from witnessing, but just plain personal issues. Church division is a serious issue on many levels. God wants the church to function as a body—each person gladly contributing to the joint goal of glorifying God and fulfilling the Great Commission.
- Pettiness. One of the easiest ways for churches and Christians to get sidetracked from sharing the Gospel is by becoming issue-orientated. The issues always seem legitimate, but if the central ideology around which a church connects is a particular set of views, affiliations or issues, we set ourselves up for major distraction from the Great Commission.
- Unbelief. Perhaps, at the core, Christians don’t expect God to bring fruit through their efforts. If we don’t believe God will use Christians to lead people to Christ, they won’t witness—and God won’t use their failure to witness! In unbelief, Christians set the stage for self-fulfilling prophecies to come true.
- How Much Will It Cost? Often, Christians weigh the cost against the necessity of the repair. But rest assured that mobilizing back to full engagement in the Great Commission wont be easy. The cost will involve repentance, faith, risks, prayer, reordered priorities and time.
Written for every Christian who desires to obey the Great Commission of Christ, “Out of Commission” is motivational and practical, diagnostic and corrective. Whether new to evangelism or an experienced soulwinner, “Out of Commission” also challenges and equips Christians to share their faith and more effectively reach others for Christ.
Chappell and his wife of 37 years, Terrie, are also the authors of the new travel-themed marriage guide “Are We There Yet? Marriage—a Perfect Journey for Imperfect Couples,” which contains truth for husbands that will help them clarify their destination, communicate their needs and grow as a couple.
Read more about Lancaster Baptist Church, West Coast Baptist College and the Chappells here. For more information on Dr. Paul Chappell and Lancaster Baptist Church, visit paulchappell.com or www.lancasterbaptist.org, or connect on Facebook, Twitter or the church’s YouTube or Vimeo.