Ed Stetzer: This coming summer we will be hosting the Amplify North American Evangelism Conference from June 25-26 at Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL. Amplify has become the largest evangelism conference in North America and one that I am proud to host.
This year’s theme will be “Preoccupied with Love” and will feature key leaders today such as CJ Rhodes, Alan Hirsch, Colin Smith, Dominque Dubois Gilliard, Jenny Yang, James Choung, Sam Owusu, and more. Trillia Newbell, Director of the Community Outreach, Ethics, and Religious Liberty Commission at the Southern Baptist Conversion will be presenting on “A Gospel of All Colors and Backgrounds.” Below, I speak with her about evangelism today.
Ed: It’s hard to deny that we are living in challenging times culturally. The church’s influence is fading and we are struggling to find answers to some hard questions. What’s your take on the health of the church today, especially as it relates to our witness?
Trillia: Recently, Ligonier Ministries published a survey about the church that was quite alarming. It didn’t have anything to do with the public square, if I’m recalling that correctly; it was about what the church believes about our faith—theology and doctrine.
The results revealed a great lack in teaching and equipping, a lack of knowledge about some of the most basic aspects of our belief such as the character and nature of Jesus. That causes alarm in me because what we believe about God affects everything. And I want to be clear, I’m not talking about every church, I’m addressing the church in America and more specifically evangelical churches.
I think I’m much more concerned about this than I am about whether the church has influence. If the people in the church don’t have knowledge about God or a true understanding of the gospel, then we have bigger fish to fry than whether or not we are influential.
Ed: Evangelism has especially fallen on hard times. It seems that everything else—even good things like discipleship—has overwhelmed our passion for sharing the love of Jesus with others. What does evangelism look like today and how can we begin to develop a passion for showing and sharing the love of Jesus on a daily basis?
Trillia: I don’t know what evangelism looks like today except to wonder if people actually do share the gospel. I know it has to be happening because people are still getting saved, but I wonder if the evangelical church in America has lost the zeal and desire to share the gospel.
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Source: Christianity Today