Poll: Can Evangelism Be An Idol?

In An Idol Called Evangelism Dr. Roy Hargrave states that evangelism rather than the glory of God is driving many churches today.

That might be too strong a position for some to fathom. Maybe unbiblical for others. It is not often that evangelism is spoken of in terms of idolatry. It is an uncomfortable question. Evangelism is very important, but people are good at making just about anything into an idol. So – Could there be a valid concern in this area?

Dr. Hargrave understands that evangelism is the “highest and loftiest” in importance for fulfilling the church’s mission. The issue he is tackling is slightly different as expressed on page 8 of An Idol Called Evangelism.

The problem, however, arises when evangelism is considered an end in itself. It is of utmost importance that the church recognizes evangelism as a means to an end-no an end in itself. The end of all things, including evangelism, is God and His manifested glory.

When evangelism is seen in this ligh, the motive becomes worship instead of mere duty, and it is properly centered upon God and not the creature.

I mentioned this page 16 booklet back in 2007 and recently took another look at it. Can evangelism become an idol? Is it? What are your thoughts? What does it look like when evangelism is an idol?

Can evangelism be an idol?

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tagged as in Church Issues,Culture,Evangelism,Gospel,theology

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kim October 28, 2009 at 4:38 pm

I think one of the church’s biggest problem is evangelism without making disciples. We expect these infant Christians to automatically get plugged into church and activities and automatically grow to be mature Christians. What we need to do is disciple these baby Christians. I’m not suggesting yet another program of the church, but rather a way of life for all believers

2 mattsvoboda October 28, 2009 at 7:15 pm

Yes, it can be an idol, but Evangelism seems to be the last thing the church is Idolizing.. Church growth? Yes. Evangelism? Yeah right…

3 Mark Lamprecht October 28, 2009 at 7:31 pm

Kim, evangelism without discipleship just might be the real problem right now.

4 Mark Lamprecht October 28, 2009 at 7:32 pm

Matt, how about talk of evangelism without actually doing it?

5 James Robertson (Sir Brass) October 28, 2009 at 7:38 pm

All this emphasis purely on missions seems to be like an idol. If you’re not out doing missions (regardless if you’ve been gifted for missionary work), you’re in sin, or at least treated like 2nd class in some circles. That isn’t to say that some of us are called to evangelize and others not. We all are, but there is an OBSESSION among more conservative churches it seems to do foreign missions, or local missions. That is all well and good, but what happened to sanctity of the ordinary life?

The reformers were RIGHT when they taught that every second of every day is to be lived to the glory of God. That is NOT to say that we should be spent out for missions all day, though. What they were preaching was glorifying God in even the MUNDANE things. Luther even saw passionate marital relations as part of how we glorify God.

Seems that evangelicalism has gone off the deep end and made missions/evangelism into an idol instead of something we do naturally and intentionally as part of our normal lives, and those who are gifted for missionary work are gladly supported and prayed for by the churches which send and support them.

6 Dan Smith October 28, 2009 at 8:58 pm

I was going to write something else, but I agree with Kim so much that I can’t even think about what I was going to say. I do think that evangelism can be an idol, but only as it relates to building a local church into something bigger, which is definitely an idol. But back to Kim’s point, if we are not going to mentor the new Christian, then we are failures. Period. Then it doesn’t matter if evangelism is an idol or not…it’s definitely a failed enterprise.

7 Francis October 29, 2009 at 1:25 am

Moses said, ” i wish all of israel were prophets.” I say i wish all of christianity were evangelists. God has caled us to evalgelize, to do it with great passion, and be dedecated to it is not idolatry. To have a purning passion for the word of God is great. Just think about what God did with israel. He called the levites to be his special servants, but everyone else had to be part of the service by making financial donations. All christians should live a life of evangelism.

8 Mark Lamprecht October 29, 2009 at 7:06 pm

Couldn’t a lack of discipleship point to evangelism being an idol? That is, evangelism is done to the detriment of discipleship when they should go hand in hand.

9 Mark Lamprecht October 29, 2009 at 7:13 pm

Francis, it seems we serve God in more ways than just evangelism. In the Great Commission evangelism is tied to making disciples. Even in agreeing with everything you’ve stated does not seem to rule out evangelism becoming an idol.

10 William WWithers January 28, 2015 at 5:34 am

I wonder how many people actually engage in personal evangelism? The Great Commission is to make disciples,but how can the lost hear and believe without a preacher?


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