Paul’s Corporate Evangelism in the Book of Acts -- By: George W. Murray

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 155:618 (Apr 1998)
Article: Paul’s Corporate Evangelism in the Book of Acts
Author: George W. Murray

Paul’s Corporate Evangelism
in the Book of Acts

George W. Murray

George W. Murray is General Director, The Evangelical Alliance Mission,
Wheaton, Illinois.

In 1971 my wife and I went to the largely unevangelized country of Italy as church planters with a mission agency that at that time had six church-planting couples in the country. Each couple was located in a separate city. Because so many Italian cities and towns were (and are) totally unevangelized, our mission leadership reasoned that its personnel should be spread out to cover more unreached territory. We, however, resisted this strategy, because we felt inadequate to do the work of evangelism and church planting by ourselves. After much discussion we persuaded our mission leadership to let us recruit a team of eight other missionaries to work with us in the unreached province of Pordenone, with a population of 300,000. We had a wonderful experience with that team, evangelizing together in a way that none of us was capable of doing alone, and planting a church in the capital city of the province.

During that time articles about teamwork in pioneer evangelism began appearing in missionary publications. Some articles questioned its validity,1 while others strongly supported the concept.2 Reading other missionary literature, I discovered that Jonathan Goforth, at the turn of the century, was convinced of the importance of doing evangelism corporately. “Now we have proved it so often that we have the conviction that we could

go into any unevangelized center in North China with an earnest band of male and female workers and within a month have the beginning of a church for Jesus Christ.”3

But most of all, my own experience in Italy convinced me of the importance of engaging in evangelism and church planting corporately. During that time, however, I kept asking myself if we had a strong biblical basis for how we were working. I was sure teamwork was good, because it worked! But does the Bible say anything about corporate evangelism? I decided to take a closer look.

Besides looking at data concerning corporate spiritual activity in the Old Testament and at Jesus’ practice of having disciples and sending them out two by two, I examined the practice and teaching of Paul, the prominent New Testament missionary apostle. I concentrated my biblical research on Paul’s practice of corporate evangelism in the Book of Acts and on his teaching about corporate witness in his Epistle to the Philippians. This article discusses the...

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