Last week I was at a conference for pastor’s called Together for the Gospel. One of the perks of this conference is the massive amount of books they give away. I think I came home with 27. One of those was Marks of the Messenger by J. Mack Stiles.
In this book, Stiles writes, “Te be a healthy evangelist means to love brothers and sisters. This is a spiritual reality that has huge ramifications, so if you have any desire to be a healthy evangelist, move beyond thinking of our Christian community as a self-help tool and move toward what Jesus desires in Christian community: observable love and unity among true believers.”
Stiles point is clear and simple. If you want your church to reach the lost, your church has to love each other. Stiles goes on to give 16 ways that churches can reach the lost through love and unity within the body. They are paraphrased below.
1. Go to a church that takes the gospel seriously and presents it clearly (Hebrews 10:25).
2. Take membership seriously.
3. Read Humility by C.J. Mahaney.
4. Even if they pay more, turn down jobs that will compete with your devotion to the church.
5. Plan family vacations around your church’s schedule. Perhaps consider using a vacation to do a short term missions trip with another family.
6. Develop a church covenant that expresses the love and devotion that must be present.
7. Use your house as a hospitality extension of the church building.
8 Practice church discipline (Matthew 18:15-17).
9. Respect the authority of the church (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13).
10. Be quick to ask for and receive forgiveness (Ephesians 4:32; Matthew 5:23-24).
11. Take care of those with physical needs in the church (Romans 12:13).
12. Pray for one another (Ephesians 6:18).
13. Have sympathy for other believers (Romans 12:15).
14. Disciple one another. Don’t be afraid to ask each other, “How are things spiritually?”
15. Do evangelism together (Philippians 1:27; Acts 2:42-47).
Some of these may seem quite a bit unusual but I think that they are more faithful to the Bible than telling strangers on the street, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” or, even worse, doing nothing at all.