God’s Strategic Plan to Advance the Gospel from Jerusalem to Rome in 30 Years

What would it take for the evangelical church in North America to take the gospel into major cities in North America in the next 30 years? A student of the God’s Word will find God’s Plan to spread the gospel into the world using ordinary people who trusted in Jesus Christ. In the book of Acts we see a proven strategy used by the early church to spread the gospel from the heart of Jerusalem to the city of the world at that time, Rome.

The early Christians accomplished this feat without use of the internet, DVDs, telephone, Skype, without a printing press or an abundance of resources. Their primary method was by word of mouth. Their plan included sending out missionary evangelists into the flourishing metropolises of the Roman world or empire. The early church prayed and as the God’s Spirit led they appointed certain men to proclaim the gospel.

At first a team of two or three men went out. And in the span of thirty years, the mission team grew up to several. The number of teams grew. And as the church grew in countries across the Mediterranean shores and inland, there was a need to appoint men to train leaders.  And these committed men and women in the face of hostile and many times severe persecution carried out and accomplished their mission. These selfless acts of evangelism resulted in many coming to faith in Christ.

The plan also included spending precious time with the new converts to disciple them in their newly found faith. The time spent teaching was a few days to a couple of years. The early church understood the importance of the spending time teaching the doctrines of the faith still in the embryic stages. The apostle Paul did not go into city, preach the gospel and then immediately leave the new converts as orphans. He knew they needed to learn more about God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. They had to be taught to follow Christ meant a changed life.

For many of the Gentile Christians they brought baggage from their pagan religions. They had to learn to a new belief system and shedding an old system. The process took time to teach and encourage. They had to learn to break away from old habits and learn new ones.

So we must ask would this approach work in today’s world, in this new millennium. Are these biblical methods and practices out dated? Or are they still relevant in today’s world. We must be extremely careful how we choose our words. Some would answer yes to this question. Are they doubters, skeptics that God’s Word is not eternal or infallible? Others would answer with a question, “Isn’t the Bible God’s timeless truths?”  If we say God’s Word is timeless, then we must live it out that it really is.

I Googled the question “How many miles is it from Jerusalem to Rome.” I found several links all giving about the same answer. Wikipedia.com gave this answer: “Biblically speaking the distance from Jerusalem to Rome by sea is approximately 1500 miles.” Then I checked on the internet the distance between Atlanta, Georgia to Los Angeles, California, it is approximately 2218 and it would take 32 hours to drive the distance according Mapquest.com.

I would like to return to the opening question of this article.  “What would it take for the evangelical church in north America to take the gospel into major cities in North America in the next 30 years?” If we say that the use of the internet has revolutionized the world and primarily North America, the why has it not turned America “upside down” by making the gospel available for all people? We must ask “why hasn’t it occur by now?” And how long has the internet, the world-wide web been available? Again the question asked on the internet, and the answer is since 1973. In 1982 is when the IP address came into use. But it was not until the mid 1990’s that the internet impacted the world and wide public use was available. And by 2007, over 97% of all information communicated was by the internet.

Since 1974 the Southern Baptist Denomination has seen a continued dropped in salvations resulting in fewer baptisms. We have more churches closing their doors and fewer “Christians” sharing the gospel. Many who claim a faith in Jesus Christ do not share it. This would lead one to ask the question “What kind of faith do people have if they are not sharing with others?”

I know some would say that if the internet were available in the times of Jesus and Paul that He would have used it. But evangelicals have had it for at least fifteen years if we consider the mid 1990’s. Is it that we have not tuned our proficiency of using the internet? Or should we consider another approach.

Researchers and individuals who study people and culture paradigms tell us people use the internet and social media to communicate. If this is the case then should be focus on hiring individuals who spend their time surfing internet to spread the gospel? Or do we reexamine the early church model again and implement the model of evangelism that spread the gospel from Jerusalem, and to almost every major city between Rome and the Gospel’s beginnings in thirty years?

Church planting is vital but the early church model did not consist of sending out church planters, but missionary evangelists’ who preached and taught the gospel. Their efforts resulted in new converts. They spend time teaching these believers. These new converted believers by their belief in Jesus automatically formed an extension of the church, Jesus’ church.

A student of the book of Acts will discover that over the span of thirty years the Apostle Paul’s mission team grew from two or three to several. They saturated and engaged the major cities with the gospel. They focused on high foot traffic or gathering places. Paul always began by presenting the gospel to the Jews first, but when they rejected gospel then he turned his focus on the Gentiles. Paul looked for people who were willing to listen and to hear the gospel.

The internet is a useful method of communication. But does that mean that we abandon face to face evangelism. People are still looking to connect with a group. People still want feel they are accepted and have a sense of belonging. The Church has the Truth, Jesus, it just needs to go out and tell lost people of God’s love and His forgiveness of sin. Jesus is still the answer and one-on-one evangelism still works.

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