Relationships: The Missing Link in Evangelistic Follow-Up -- By: Gordon L. Everett

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 142:566 (Apr 1985)
Article: Relationships: The Missing Link in Evangelistic Follow-Up
Author: Gordon L. Everett

Relationships: The Missing Link in Evangelistic Follow-Up

Gordon L. Everett

[Gordon L. Everett, Former Coordinator of Extension Degree Students, International School of Theology, San Bernardino, California]

In his book, Sharpening the Focus of the Church, Getz remarks, “it is important to emphasize—and to emphasize emphatically—that outside of the context of the church and the experience of drawing upon other members of the body, a new babe in Christ will not grow into a mature responsible disciple of Jesus Christ.”1

Arn echoes this idea when he states, “effective evangelism is not only making disciples, it is actively incorporating converts into the…church…where they function as responsible members.”2 Mylander calls it the “follow-up gap.”3 Moore refers to it as the “baptism gap.”4 All are referring to the glaring difference between the number of decisions for Christ indicated through evangelistic efforts and the actual number of those converts who, a year or so later, are participating in the life of a local church.

Parachurch organizations have frequently been accused of neglecting or ignoring the local church in their zealous mass evangelistic campaigns. The local church, on the other hand, has been accused of laziness and of settling for an ineffective witness for Christ. Probably valid claims can be made on both sides.The contention of this article is that development of personal relationships between local church members and new believers who are not members is the key to incorporating new converts successfuuy into the church and closing the follow-up gap.

This proposition is not intended to discount the preaching and teaching of the Word of God, the role of the Holy Spirit, the need

for efficacious prayer, and bold evangelism. However, at least on the human level, the main thing that brings converts into the church and keeps them in is a relationship developed with an existing member. From the contemporary scene, consideration win be given to the nature of the follow-up gap and the crucial role played by personal relationships.Then an analysis of biblical examples win be offered as models for contemporary ministries.

Understanding the Gap

Too much “distance” exists between the member of a local church and those who are outside the church. Little or no intentional relationship-building and follow-up work is done by most churches.

As an example, the 19...

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