Biblical Success in Outreach Opportunities

We undoubtedly live in a world where our perception of success is driven by numbers. A business is only seen as successful if it generates value for its stakeholders. An event is seen as successful if it draws a large crowd. A social media page is successful if its number of followers grows.

Is this business-oriented model applicable to the church? More specifically, what does success look like in our evangelism and apologetics?

Luke provides us with a focal point to consider in Acts 17 when he describes for us, in narrative form, the apologetic methodology of the Apostle Paul. Paul comes on his second missionary journey to the city of Athens and is conversing with the philosophers of the day - Epicureans and Stoics (17:18). Paul is brought to the Areopagus to be heard on this teaching. Standing before two key philosophical schools of his era, does he present a carefully constructed evidential argument, reasoning to the existence of God? Does he seek to present a Christianity that is palatable to the sensibilities of these schools of philosophy in order to get as many possible decisions for Christ as he can?

Paul, entering into the situation, unashamedly declares the truth of Scripture. He declares that God made the world and everything in it. He declares God’s sovereignty over nations. He declares our contingency on God. He declares their need to repent. He declares the resurrection of Christ, evidencing that Christ is the One sent by the Father. In his defense of the faith, Paul starts with the presupposition of Christ as Yahweh (1 Peter 3:15, Isaiah 8:13) and the truthfulness of Scripture, and proclaims Christian truth.

The reception of Paul’s truth proclamation might be deemed by some as less than a success. Some wanted to hear him again, but others mocked Paul (17:32). By secular standards, his approach largely seems to have failed. There was not a flood of new converts.

Fortunately, faithfulness for the Christian is not found in pragmatic, numerical concerns. Our measure of success is seen in Galatians 1:10 - “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.” Our success is determined first and foremost by our faithful service to Christ - we seek to please God, not man. Our proclamation of the Christian faith must be rooted in the veracity of Scripture and the Christian worldview.1

In light of this, we will be beginning a five-week elective class called Transformation on Wednesday, October 13th. This class is a biblical overview highlighting five key elements of the Christian faith from creation to consummation. This class is designed specifically for outreach - it is a great opportunity to invite unbelieving friends and family members! The class is based on the truthfulness of Scripture and proclaims the gospel through the realities of creation, fall, and redemption. This class is also an opportunity for those who would like to learn the material and pass it on to others evangelistically.

We plant and water with biblical faithfulness, trusting God to give the increase. Success is measured not numerically, but by our work being pleasing in the sight of the Lord. Soli Deo Gloria.
 1Contrast this with other apologetic methods such as classical apologetics, which set aside the certainty of Christianity to reason with the unbeliever as to the possibility of God’s existence. This ignores the reality that logic and reason exist because the triune God exists.
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