A peep into life in Africa, through the eyes of an African Reformed Baptist pastor.

Water, water, water, everywhere. What else do you expect? I am a Baptist, and I live in the land of the mighty Victoria Falls!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

We must keep the work of evangelism central

The more I climb the ecclesiastical ladder the more I am disturbed by the discovery that many Christian leaders tend to abandon the gospel while still claiming to be faithful to it. They tip their hats to the gospel but do not preach it. It is almost as though the gospel was simply the first rung of the ladder of Christian ministry and should be left to those who are still cutting their teeth in pastoral work.

I do not want to be judgmental, but I find it instructive that I cannot remember the last time I met someone who, in sharing their testimony of conversion, mentioned the name of some of the loudest ministers of religion in my own country as the instruments that God used to bring them to himself. The names that are often mentioned are those of the “small boys”. This bothers me. Does it mean the big fishermen are no longer catching fish? I ask myself, what can be more glorious than preaching the gospel and seeing souls saved?

The “big fishermen” are quick to comment on Zambia as a Christian nation, or on the Zambian “firegate” scandal, or on the need for the church to monitor elections, or for the church to love homosexuals, or be involved in opening universities and hospitals, etc. It gains them a lot of mileage in the media and secures the attention of politicians but I keep asking myself whether this is what their primary calling is supposed to be.

Do not get me wrong. All these issues I have listed are important but my point is that we preachers must keep first things first and remain red-hot preachers of the gospel. There would be no church worth talking about in the first place if there was no gospel being preached regularly and effectively. All the the issues I have listed would even be worse if there was no church to start with.

It is a sobering fact that every generation must be re-evangelised. We should never take today’s statistics in Africa or anywhere in the world for granted. If we do not maintain and build upon the evangelism of the previous generation we will lose ground and Christianity will dwindle despite the fact that the number of church buildings may remain the same—at least for a little while longer before they become empty and start getting sold.

Again, I do not want to be judgmental, but the African church needs to look at what is happening to Western Christianity. The publishing houses are still there, churning out many good books as before. Christian organisations are still there, doing their works of charity. Bible Colleges are still there, fighting for the dwindling numbers of individuals answering the call to the preaching ministry. But ground has been lost. Many churches comprise octogenarians tottering to their graves. There are hardly any new converts!

I am not sure how the Western church found itself in this situation. My concern is for Africa. If we are not evangelising but simply talking about evangelism and the gospel we will soon find ourselves in the same situation as our Western counterparts. Sadly, I am observing that there is far too much of talking about the gospel but precious little of fervent gospel preaching. We need to reverse this before it is too late. We need to get back to red-hot gospel preaching.

Think about this: What would happen to a nation if all adults were simply talking about the science of childbearing and child upbringing but not proceeding to actually marry and engage in the activity that produces children? Well, before long there would be no nation to talk about because all would be well past their childbearing age!

It is not rocket science to know that for a nation to prosper, married couples should bear children while in their prime and then nurture them into adulthood. Once midwives run out of work, you can start preparing the coffin for that entire nation. It will soon be no more.

I fear that this is what is happening with the Christian church. We are majoring in minors. Do not get me wrong. Social, economic, and political issues are important. Thankfully, the preaching of the gospel will have social and political ramifications. Benevolence comes from hearts that are converted and are overwhelmed by the love of God. This is because the greatest enemy that people have is sin. The news of how sin was defeated by Christ on the cross ought to be defended and sounded forth all around us as the world’s best news. Preachers ought to be challenging the people of our generation to respond to this news through repentance and faith. Sadly, that is fast becoming the exception rather than the rule.


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  2. I am feeling so sad by reading this post. I know the truth about our churches here. Sinclair Ferguson said: "Biblical Christianity is being an assembly where the Word of God jumps out of the pulpit and starts running around the church, and transforming people's lives." I am so longing for that. And praying.

    You wrote this: Many churches comprise octogenarians tottering to their graves. There are hardly any new converts"

    We suffer from it. Bu we pray also the Lord of the harvest for the opening of the windows of heaven and feed us with the Bread from heaven. We pray for the conversion of our ministers, for quickening grace, for courage to speak in a postmodern world. We have this hope: despite the decline: God is not dead. We have a God who lives. Who gives life to the dead. Please, pray once a week for the churches in Europe.

    Greeting from a sister in Christ fromm Europe.

  3. I think besides talking about social, economic, and political issues, many preachers are tired by the modern movements, which distort and dilute the essentially of the Gospel. Consequently, many will say they are preaching while "They tip their hats to the gospel but do not preach it."

  4. The pseudo gospel is the one real enemy of the emerging Church in Africa. One person has even gone on to label it the cargo gospel. Essentially, it is taking advantage of the desperation and deplorable economic problems of the masses who in many cases have no strong biblical roots but yearn to prosper financially who become duped to this kind of preaching. The prosperity gospel is the one message responsible for the decline in real Gospel preaching than any other message. This same message has sown the seeds that have sadly given rise to the emergence of quasi prophets who are the real merchants of destruction. We can only pray for the church in Africa and continue urging ministers to recant this pseudo gospel.

  5. On point. Pseudo prosperity message main culprit.

  6. Hello Pastor Conrad,

    I'm Steven Ely. I'm a member of Pray's Mill Baptist Church in Georgia. I'm thankful for your ministry and I find this article very encouraging. I'm an open air preacher of the gospel of Christ, and I believe I was called by God to preach the gospel in the open air and on the streets for the very same reasons that you mentioned above. Even on the other side of the world, we need the same truth, the gospel. Thank you for being faithful. I hope to meet you on another one of your visits to Pray's Mill or G3. May you continue to grow in the knowledge and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and may the word of God dwell in you richly, more and more. Blessings, brother!

  7. Hi Ps Conrad. As an Australian evangelical Christian, I'd say that part of the problem is the nature of our gospel — and it's the evangelical churches I'm referring to. 'Christ came to save me from my sins' is a personalised, spiritualised gospel. It gets me right with God, but typically leaves my weekly existence looking much the same as that of other Australians. It is a gospel I can believe relatively easily while remaining an individualist and a consumerist — even in a church that talks about 'disciples who make disciples'. It seems to me that our preaching of this gospel will do little while we leave the sacred-secular divide in place. It will save individuals, but will it create compelling, life-giving communities that offer a genuine alternative to the lifestyle of middle Australia? That very much remains to be seen.