From Michael Spencer’s classic post, Wretched Urgency
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How about the epistles in the New Testament? In those places where Christians are addressed as Christians, where is the urgency about church growth or personal evangelism?
Yes, I know that Paul is urgent about his ministry, but I don’t find his instructions for other Christians to be entirely in the same vein. I hear Christians being told to live quiet, peaceful, honest, generous lives adorned with integrity and love. Christians are told to be devoted to their families, to love fellow believers, and to live in such a way that outsiders cannot accuse or criticize. If they suffer for being a Christian, it should not be because they provoked a response through simply living the life Jesus taught.
Again and again, I look in the epistles for the kind of Christian experience that I was taught was normal, and I do not find it. The statements of urgency are not statements telling me to turn my house and life upside down in frenetic efforts to persuade people to join my religion. The urgency in Paul comes from his personal mission and his own vocation as a church planter. I can’t automatically apply it all to everyone else.
Shouldn’t we all be like Paul? No. Not if we aren’t apostles and church planters. Paul ran all over the world telling people to believe the Gospel, love Christ and live like it. We are to go back to our homes, jobs and communities and do exactly that. Preachers and missionaries have the urgency appropriate to their calling, as anyone should have the urgency appropriate in theirs. A parent has some urgency in parenting, but it has to be measured. A businessman or a teacher has some urgency, but again, in an ordered way. Christians look at their callings, their lives, their faith and apply the appropriate amount of urgency. We are not all told to sell all we have, give it to the poor and hit the road. In fact, that could be nuts.
…Here. Quote me. There is no urgent concern for converting people in the New Testament. Did you get that down? There is also no urgent concern for the numerical growth of churches by the efforts of members to convert others. There are no burgeoning church programs. There are no plans to train everyone to door knock and sell Jesus. There is an urgent concern for doctrinal and personal Christ-likeness. There is a concern for leadership, integrity, honesty and obedience to Christ in our personal lives. The idea that we are here to “win souls” and not to know and show God is bogus.