A beauty from Total Church by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis:

Francis of Assissi is alleged to have said, “Preach the gospel always; if necessary use words.” That may be a great medieval sound bite, but it falls short of what the Bible teaches about evangelism. Jesus began his public ministry by “proclaiming the good news of God” (Mark 1:14). When he gained a reputation as a miracle-worker, his response was to leave the area so he could give himself to the task of proclamation, for “that is why I have come” (Mark 1:38). And the risen Lord left his disciples with the specific commission to go to the nations, “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20).

There is a tendency in some quarters today to promote a kind of evangelism without proclamation. Acts of service are done or people are invited to experience Christian worship. But without words of explanation these are like signposts pointing nowhere or, worse still, signposts pointing to our good works. The gospel is good news — a message to be proclaimed, a truth to be taught, a word to be spoken, and a story to be told.

Related:
Faith Comes By Hearing
Word-Centered Missionalization

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4 thoughts on “The Gospel Word is Central to Gospel Work”

  1. Mike says:

    Jared:I run into this all the time. Our ministry is focused on church planting and primarily conducts campaigns of one-on-one evangelism and discipleship. It is staggering how much easier it is to raise money for a “holistic” projects: Water, food, buildings, etc, than it is for the proclamation of the Gospel. There are also quite a few very large, well-known ministries who, IMHO, operate totally on Assissi’s quote and they totally leave out actually telling people about Jesus. I have first-hand experience with them. It’s sad, they give real bread, but not the bread of life.I’ve only heard of one case–and it was miraculously spectacular–where someone professed faith in Christ without another person actually telling him or her the Good News. Proclamation and personal discipleship are the most important, and challenging, commands of Jesus; therefore, those receive the highest amount of spiritual warfare and opposition. It’s where “we” make the most excuses, where we attempt to outsource the job, and where we fear the most. One last thing, I’ve take a couple hundred people onto the mission field. Every one who comes with me comes to proclaim the Gospel with real, out-loud words. Of all those people, off the top of my head less than five had a primary gift of evangelism. Less than five. It’s obedience, not giftedness. And thank goodness for those of us not gifted, but willing…Thanks for writing this. I can’t stand that quote any more.

  2. David says:

    Wow. I was just thinking about that a few weeks ago as I heard that quoted for the nth time. God’s Word commands us and enables us to use words as we faithfully live out all the implications of the Gospel.Thanks for the post.

  3. Jerald says:

    People talk about “life style” evangelism to mean that your proclimation of the gospel is only what you do, only how you act. I think that falls way short if there is no verbal proclimation too. As you said in the last line of your post, it’s “a story to be told.” There are a lot of moral, well meaning, tender hearted people who don’t know the One who is Truth and Life. It’s talking about Him that brings people to a relization of what real Life is about.

  4. bluejeangospel says:

    …if it depends on our actions I’d say the best of the best of us (not me for certain) have no shot. They will know us by our love, but I am afraid our good works can’t be our hope for sharing Jesus and his gospel. This is a great clip. I so much appreciate your blog Jared—and have for some time. Keep blogging and more importantly keep your eyes on Jesus.

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Jared C. Wilson


Jared C. Wilson is the pastor of Middletown Springs Community Church in Middletown Springs, Vermont. You can follow him on Twitter.

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