By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
DOVER, Del.—Marketplace evangelism, reaching those in our spheres of influence, requires Christians to have a Biblical worldview, where they see non-Christians through a new set of eyes, Ed Stetzer, research director for LifeWay Resources, told listeners at the 2008 BCM/D Pastor’s Conference at the Sheraton Dover. Stetzer referred to II Corinthians 5:16, “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer,” (NIV). Stetzer said Christians must look at non-believers as “prisoners of war in need of rescue,” he stressed.
Mike Logsdon, pastor of First Church, Easton, Md., and president of the conference, explained that he chose the “marketplace evangelism” theme after a mission trip to Turkey, where he visited the Agora, a section between the library and amphitheater where much of Acts 13 occurred. Logsdon welcomed visitors to the conference, which preceded the BCM/D annual meeting. Cindy Barlock, music minster for Grace Church, Pasadena, led worship.
Stetzer explained that marketplace evangelism isn’t about ministering at the local mall. It’s engaging the world where we live. But that’s not easy.
“Churches do a woeful job of engaging culture,” Stetzer said. “If the 50’s come back, we’ll be ready to go,” he laughed.
Christians today get frustrated at today’s culture and create their own subcultures, Stetzer said. Christians listen to their own music, read Christian books…and “drink milk from Christian cows,” he said with a grin. That distances us from the very world we want to reach.
“Culture matters,” Stetzer said. “If culture doesn’t matter we should just shut down the International Mission Board.”
“Culture can be the bridge by which the gospel can travel,” Stetzer explained.
Stetzer said some of the old evangelistic questions, like “If you were to die today, do you know where you would spend eternity?” aren’t as relevant as they used to be. Research shows only 20 percent of people ponder those questions daily. Stetzer said people today are asking questions such as, “Is Jesus really the only way?” Churches have to look at their communities, Stetzer stressed. Discover the questions they have and then find ways to answer them. Know the community history and its current culture. Become an expert, Stetzer urged.
He referred to James 4:4, “…know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”
That is referring to world systems, not people, he explained, pointing to John 3:16, “For God so loved the world…”
“The future of the church is in their invading the marketplace and sharing Christ. It’s not to get them to come in a building, but to go live like Jesus and tell about Him.”
“Instead of yelling in people’s faces, we need to cry in people’s hearts. We have to learn to love the world.”
Ministers elected Michael Karmann, pastor of First Church, Aberdeen, as the 2009 vice-president. Lyn O’Berry, pastor of The Church on Warren Avenue, will be next year’s president. Karmann will move into the president’s role in 2010.