Evangelism Research Essay

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EVANGELISM RESEARCH ESSAY: COMEBACK CHURCHES, BREAKING THE MISSIONAL CODE & THE CONVERGENT CHURCH A Term Paper Presented to Dr. Alvin Reid in partial fulfillment of the requirements for Personal Evangelism EVA 5100 John Marks Sanders Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary October 28, 2009 Today’s church is in much need of inspection and overhaul. The church must strive to stay true to the timeless message of the gospel, but it must also seek to impact the culture that God destined the chu
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  EVANGELISM RESEARCH ESSAY: COMEBACK CHURCHES, BREAKINGTHE MISSIONAL CODE & THE CONVERGENT CHURCHA Term Paper Presented toDr. Alvin Reidin partial fulfillment of the requirements for Personal Evangelism EVA 5100John Marks SandersSoutheastern Baptist Theological SeminaryOctober 28, 2009  Today’s church is in much need of inspection and overhaul. The church must strive to staytrue to the timeless message of the gospel, but it must also seek to impact the culture that Goddestined the church to influence. Fortunately, great resources are available to aid the church inaccomplishing its mission today. Such resources include Comeback Churches  by Ed Stetzer andMike Dodson,  Breaking the Missional Code  by Ed Stetzer and David Putman, and TheConvergent Church  by Mark Liederbach and Alvin Reid. This paper will serve the purpose of  briefly reviewing these literary works, offering strengths & weaknesses of each, analyzing andforming a systhesis of them, and giving their contributions to the church, personal witness, andevangelism. Comeback Churches  by Stetzer and Dodson sought to write a book that would help thechurch in its current condition. These men sought to attack the problem of stagnant andirrelevant churches by providing empirical data of what a number of churches have done toarrive at the status of a “comeback church.” Three hundred twenty-four churches were chosenthat fit required criteria that proved their previous state of plateau and or decline. After confirming their trend, certain key principles were observed. These churches were revived after they were once again doing the work of the gospel. Comeback Churches recorded the resultsand produced the principles for all the read and use. The authors are very particular in statingthat they did not write a magic list of formulas and how-to’s but rather a playbook strategy of   principles that should be custom fitted to one’s ministry, culture, and demographic. Thesecomeback churches give great hope to those in the ministry. These churches are found in variousregions, demographics, resources, and even denominations. The data speaks for itself. With1  2hard work and determination to do whatever it takes, churches can be changed and they can onceagain be used by God to fulfill its mission. Comeback Churches did a great service to all lay leaders and pastors. The work waswell rounded and included many aspects of ministry. However, some aspects were stronger thanothers. The major strengths of the work must include its objective presentation of statistics andits method to impact the entire church. The statistics used in Comeback Churches gave the book a sense of reality. It is one thing to have a book that includes tips and principles that in theorysound great and should make drastic headway in the way a church operates, but it is of greater credibility to present real numbers. Making this experiment real brings motivation andexcitement for the church instead of false hope and disappointment. Another great strength isStetzer and Dodson’s method of showing the entire church making a comeback. The book doesnot solely rest on leadership, ministry, or worship, but rather ties every aspect of every ministrytogether for the common goal of becoming missional and reaching the lost for Christ.  Comeback Churches also had weaknesses. What the book offers in practicality andapplication, it lacks in doctrine and reason. Comeback Churches is great for the one who islooking for ideas of things that can be changed in order to have a quick fix but reason behind thechanges discussed were left out. Because Comeback Churches was a book that gathered together results of actions made, the reason for making such changes was not included and often times thereason is important. The doctrines behind certain church practices were not revealed in the work which gives the impression that all one needs to do is change and not worry about the doctrine or reason behind them. What is described as preferences in the church are sometimes key elementsto church heritage and changing them would distort key practices. Comeback Churches  putsgreat emphasis on changing facilities and worship style, but such a shallow solution is not and  3should not always be considered. The purposes behind practices in the church should be studiedand analyzed. Stetzer and Dodson make this clear, but at times the book simply notes that thechanges were made and a positive result came from it. One should be careful before makingsuch decisions when the reason behind such decisions is not explained.  Breaking the Missional Code  by Ed Stetzer and David Putman sets the bar high for thechurch in America. Rather than saying something happened to American society, these authorssay something didn’t happen. The church forgot its mission, got comfortable in its heyday andhas now allowed “the number of adults who do not attend church to nearly double, rising from39 million to 75 million—a 92% increase” 1 in a matter of 13 years. Stetzer and Putman declarethat something must change, America needs a new model to reach its inhabitants; churches must break the code.  Breaking the Missional Code speaks to the church saying its current trend willnot work. The church must take up the strategies of missionaries and apply them to theAmerican culture. This means that church must “seek to understand the cultural situation and its people and seek to reach them with the gospel.” 2 The gospel is the precious news that Christdied on the cross for the sins of man. If cultural barriers cannot be crossed to allow thisinformation to flow from found to lost, the church ceases to adhere to its calling to the GreatCommission.  Breaking the Missional Code speaks of the process required for a church to be sentout instead staying in.Strengths that add to the effectiveness of   Breaking the Missional Code and set this book apart are found in the details. Several elements make the book easy to read, follow, and apply.At the end of every chapter are thought-provoking questions. The chapters in  Breaking the 1 Ed Stetzer and David Putman,  Breaking the Missional Code: Your Church Can Become a Missionary in Your Community (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2006), 8. 2 Ibid., 3.
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