Interview with

Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

Emanuel from Sweden, asks: “How evangelistic for nonbelievers should the Sunday gathering be?”Well, when I hear the term Sunday gathering I take it to refer to the people of God gathered for worship. There is nothing wrong with having evangelistic services designed totally for unbelievers on Sunday. There is nothing in the Bible that says don’t evangelize on Sundays with meetings. But that would not be the stated gathering of God’s people for worship. And I know, too, that all Christians don’t believe. Not all Christians believe that the New Testament even calls us to have corporate worship services once a week. I have talked with people in this category who think the only thing Christians should get togeth-er for is edification, not for worship. Now it think that is a mistake, but I won’t try to defend it here. It think we are called to corporate worship as the people of God. Then the question becomes what place does evangelism have in that service? That is the real question. And I would want to say that that service should be wonderfully and gloriously vertical in its focus. We should focus on God. And there are a lot of people who think that because there are many, many good things in the Christian life, all of those should be dumped into that one service. So we need a place for a ministry to children there. We need a place for community communication there. We need a place for art of drama and paint-ing and we need evangelism there. We need concerts there and we need political activism there. And
Page 7 of 12when you are done week after week after week, something becomes very man centered. The vertical fo-cus is blunted and it weakens and a power goes out of the church even while you are trying to empower all of those things. So the implication I think this has for direct evangelism is to say that it is always sec-ondary in the corporate worship gatherings of God’s people. We should gather in order to commune corporately with our Father and with our Lord Jesus Christ and magnify him in the enjoyment that we take in him through singing and praying and confession and thanksgiving and preaching and the sacraments. And evangelism happens the way it does in 1 Corinthi-ans 14. If people prophesy in this service, that is, if people speak with remarkable, penetrating insight from God, people are convicted and called to account and the secrets of their heart are disclosed. So they fall down on their face and worship God and say, “God is really in this place.”So I believe evangelism happens when people meet God authentically, because the Word of God is be-ing spoken and faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. This same gospel that builds people up saves people and the unbeliever who is sitting there while feeling out of place at first—which is inevitable—might come to have his heart opened, his eyes made keen to see the beauty of Christ. He falls down on his face, taste buds are awakened for the beauty of Christ and he loves and trusts Jesus. And then these are my people. I am not a foreigner any more here. I think that happens while evange-lism is in secondary position and vertical, radical, hard pursuit of God is in first position. Thank you Pastor John. And thank you for listening to this podcast. Please email your questions to us at askpastorjohn AT desiringgod DOT org. At desiringgod DOT org you will find thousands of other free resources from John Piper. ... I’m your host, Tony Reinke. Thanks for listening.