EVANGELISM AND CHURCH PLANTING
A radical shift in thinking is sending ripples through prisons across the nation. Penitentiaries are becoming equipping grounds for mission. Churches are opening campuses behind bars and are empowering prisoners to reach their fellow inmates. Even seminaries are establishing degree programs on the inside. A new movement is emerging, and it’s changing the landscape of prison ministry as we know it.
Suppose your church follows the pattern of most churches—ultimately, at some time in the future, the doors close for good. Suppose the church really does have a life cycle. How will your church be remembered? What will be its enduring legacy? And what if the rise and fall of one congregation was not the real story? What if that one church—your church—gave birth to other congregations, which in turn planted other church-planting churches? What if your church’s legacy was exponential kingdom expansion that could not be suppressed?
Do you find this factoid disturbing? “A majority of practicing Christians do not consistently support evangelism, and almost half of millennial Christians believe it is flat-out wrong to evangelize.” This is the picture painted by new Barna research, commissioned by Alpha USA. David Kinnaman unpacks the implications and calls us to a new breed of agile evangelism.
“Do something revolutionary,” Luis Palau told me. “Love your neighbor.” We were coming to the conclusion of an Outreach interview in which he implored readers, in a gentle but focused tone: “Build bridges, not barriers.” And then he quoted Spurgeon: “‘The pulpit is the coward’s castle.’ You can hurl insults from the pulpit, things you would never say over a cup of coffee at a local restaurant.” Like the apostle Peter he was urging us, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). That conversation took place 10 years ago, but the same intensity, conviction and winsomeness illuminate his interview in this issue, of Outreach. And as he stands now at the sunset of his ministry, affirming the goodness of God, he is emphatic: “God gave you your ministry, to take care of it for him. It is more than a job: It is a calling, and a grand one.” Please don’t miss these words.
INSIDE THE JULY/AUGUST ISSUE
THE CHURCH INSIDE
A Quiet Revival Is Taking Place in America’s Prisons
YOUR CHURCH: LIFE CYCLE AND LEGACY
Church Multiplication Is on the Rise. Here’s How Your Church Can Be a Part.
FAITH FOR THE NEXT GENERATION
Research and Trends: What Happens When Christians—Especially Young Christians—Fail to Support Evangelism?
THE INTERVIEW: LUIS PALAU
A Good Day for Good News
PLUS: Sharing Faith in a Post-Christian Society, Managing Leadership Anxiety, the Power of Small Church Outreach, Discovering the More We Were Created For—and Much More