PATTAYA, Thailand – The end task of evangelists and mission leaders is not just winning people to Christ, contends the co-founder of a ministry that trains church leaders.
Too often Christians think that evangelism is simply going into all the world and proclaiming the Gospel and then baptizing new believers, said Bob Moffitt, co-founder and chairman of Disciple Nations Alliance (DNA), at the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) General Assembly on Monday.
But true evangelism goes beyond just teaching Scripture knowledge but combines knowledge with obedience leading to transformed lives.
"I grew up in a church where people were incredibly Bible literate," Moffitt shared, "but you know what? We didn't see a lot of transformed lives."
"And that is because we assumed that the ideas we found in the Scriptures if they would be taught they will have application in terms of changing people's lives."
Moffitt acknowledged that ideas do have consequences, but added that change only occurs if the ideas are applied.
Evangelical leaders, he said, have successfully proclaimed the Gospel, moved people into the local church and taught them the Bible, but have made the "great omission" of biblical discipleship.
"We have not taught them to do what Jesus has said," Moffitt commented.
"As a consequence of this great omission, we have seen incredible numbers of conversions, many churches planted, but we have seen little transformation," he said.
Moffitt suggests that the reason why there are evidently not enough transformed lives is because Christians have missed the target.
Instead of the correct Great Commission target of teaching people to obey, people focus on a target of proclaiming and bringing people into fellowship in the church.
"The end task of the Great Commission is not winning people to Christ," Moffitt contends. "Be careful, winning people to Christ is essential. It is part of the process but it is not the end process. It is not hitting the target."
Likewise, planting churches and teaching people what Jesus taught are not the end task, even though both are "absolutely necessary."
"The end task is, I submit, [is] equipping God's people to glorify Him," Moffitt said. "Equipping God's people to be God's glory by teaching them to observe all the commandments that Christ has commanded."
The ministry leader observed that churches that are transforming are ones that express God's love and that "live out the Gospel" that"is not just a proclamation."
"When God's people sacrificially are prepared by their churches to express the love of God, transformation comes," Moffitt said.
In a discussion session after Moffitt's presentation, experts from around the world discussed their views on what was presented. The evangelical leaders during the "Living Room" session agreed that the "secret" to transforming lives is showing love for people.
Moffitt's presentation was part of the World Evangelical Alliance General Assembly in Pattaya, Thailand, where more than 500 evangelical Christians from over 100 nations are meeting until Thursday.
This year's general assembly – the first in seven years – boasts a diverse array of organizations and denominational church bodies that include representatives of Pentecostal World Fellowship, the Mennonite community, World Alliance of Reformed Churches, the Charismatic stream, the China Christian Council, and historic mainline Churches.
Other organizations represented at the WEA General Assembly include Campus Crusade for Christ, Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, and U.S. Center for World Mission, among many others.