Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Calvinists Top The Church Planting Charts!

Particular Redemptionists and Reformed Theologians, more commonly referred to as Calvinists, are consistently assaulted (often wrongly) for lacking evangelistic zeal. Now there is proof (and there always has been if opponents of particular redemption would take their fingers out of their ears long enough to hear it) that evangelism and Calvinism go hand-in-hand. A recent survey by Leadership Network reveals that the top two reproducing (ie, church planting) churches in America are Redeemer Presbyterian (New York City pastored by Tim Keller) and Mars Hill Church (Seattle based church pastored by Mark Driscoll). Both churches have planted over 100 new churches since their inception. Church planting is about making disciples, which happens initially through the proclamation of the gospel in a culture and the response of those who hear the gospel and turn to faith in Jesus (evangelism). But the process doesn't and should never end with evangelism. It continues with the disciple-making process which makes church planting so crucial to long-term, viable spiritual harvest. Not only are these two churches and their pastors on the front lines of the culture war to bring people to Jesus, but they are actively involved in nurturing the confessions of sinners within the authority and structure of the church so that those who confess Jesus might mature into Jesus-loving, sin-fighting, God-glorifying warriors for the Kingdom. This, in my opinion, is a significantly more biblical approach to evangelism and discipleship and stands far and above as superior to the "hit-and-run" evangelism model championed for so many years in evangelical circles where we lead people to make a "decision" for Jesus but fail to nurture the seed scattered on the hearts of the hearers. Lack of passion and zeal to plant churches within cultures leads to a higher rate of nominalism and false professions within the church. May this research be a positive reminder that a strong belief in the sovereignty of God in salvation and His purpose to set His affections on His people for His glory is not the death knell to evangelism, but rather the jet engine that propels us forward into the culture for His glory and our good. May it also remind us that our theological differences and the nuances that shape our soteriology and views of election and man's response in salvation are not issues which should divide us, but rather issues that should sharpen our doctrine and understanding of Scripture as followers of Jesus seek the clearest understanding of God possible as revealed in His Word.


At 2:44 PM , Blogger Drew said...

Aaron, I signed into Google just so that I could post on your blog, arent you impressed? Seriously, I do appreciate the posts, thanks for taking the time to do this. I have long wrestled with the sovereignty of God in salvation and the doctrine of election, as I am sure every believer has. I can recall a lot of frustration when sharing the gospel with a friend who did not make a "decision" right away, and wondering what it was that I did wrong.

The sovereignty of God in salvation has, among many things, freed me in evangelism. Knowing that it is God who works in the hearts of men and it is not my elaborate presentation that brings people to faith sets me free from trying to get someone to "make a decision." I know this issue has been difficult for several of my friends who have lost loved ones, and I still wrestle with it. However, as far as evangelism goes, I agree that it should be the "jet engine that propels us forward."

I thank God we can be a part of His saving purposes!


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