Southern Baptist churches, based on our baptism reports, are less and less effective at sharing the gospel in such a way people receive it and become Christians. The reasons for this vary from church to church, but there are some common problems which span geography, culture, and ministry style. This is the fourth installment in a summer series highlighting some of those issues and offering some suggestions for change. A very personal problem limiting evangelistic effectiveness is embarrassment about being a Christian.

Another barrier believers have to sharing the gospel is embarrassment about being a Christian. These feelings have several sources. One of the most frustrating is reprehensible behavior by prominent Christians. When a well-known pastor, teacher, or priest publicly confesses to sexual sin or fiscal irresponsibility, all Christians suffer a loss of credibility. The denomination or religious system of the offender doesn’t really matter to most unbelievers. They lump us all together and broad-brush the entire church with the failures of the few. It’s disheartening to build relationships with unbelievers and then have them ridicule our faith when a prominent leader is revealed as a charlatan or criminal.

Sometimes, however, the problem is closer to home. When you are known as a follower of Jesus, people expect you to live up to His standards. They are often watching you, most wanting to see how faith is lived out in everyday life, a few hoping to catch you in some inconsistency they can use to justify rejection of the gospel. Because you are still a sin-tainted human, you will make mistakes, occasionally compromising your faith and failing to live out the gospel consistently. This can be embarrassing, particularly if your failures are public. Cursing a co-worker or gossiping about a neighbor contradicts your spiritual commitments and undermines your reputation as a Christian. The result can be a reluctance to share your faith.

You will never live perfectly, no matter how hard you try. Christian leaders will also continue to sin, publicly embarrassing themselves and the church in general. These failures need not, however, stifle your witness. Authenticity demands frank admission of sin and apology for its negative results. The effectiveness of your witness is strengthened by honesty about your shortcomings and, when necessary, the failures of public figures. Hypocrisy is living one way while claiming another standard. It’s not hypocritical to admit weakness and take responsibility for it. Doing so demonstrates the genuineness of your commitment to Jesus and your willingness to admit your mistakes. Your honesty, more than glossing over reality, will be appreciated by your unsaved friends who already know you aren’t perfect.

Solution: Be honest. When your behavior is incongruent with your values, admit it and apologize. Most unbelievers will respect you more, not less, when you take responsibility for your shortcomings. Denial of your frailty, not its public display, is the death knell of your credibility as a witness. Part of living the Christian life is modeling how to confess sin, restore relationships, and serve others. Remember, denial is bad. Honesty is good.

This series is excerpted from my book, Unscripted: Sharing the Gospel as Life Happens


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Perspective: SBC 2023

Dr. Iorg discusses what unites the SBC in light of next week’s annual convention.

Jeff Iorg
President
Dr. Jeff Iorg is the president of Gateway Seminary. Prior to his service at the Seminary, Dr. Iorg was the Executive Director of the Northwest Baptist Convention for almost ten years. He was also the founding pastor of Greater Gresham Baptist Church in Gresham, Oregon, and has served as a pastor in Missouri and a staff pastor in Texas.

Intentionality

 The greatest problem in our world is lostness. The only solution to lostness is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Jeff Iorg
President
Dr. Jeff Iorg is the president of Gateway Seminary. Prior to his service at the Seminary, Dr. Iorg was the Executive Director of the Northwest Baptist Convention for almost ten years. He was also the founding pastor of Greater Gresham Baptist Church in Gresham, Oregon, and has served as a pastor in Missouri and a staff pastor in Texas.

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Lead On Podcast
June 4, 2023

“Life is Curriculum”: How Leaders Grow after Seminary

Dr. Iorg encourages leaders to continue growing after Seminary. He identifies seven ways to cultivate and work towards spiritual maturity. 

Lead On Podcast
May 28, 2023

Dealing with Angry People

There is a lot of anger in the world right now and a lot of that anger is spilling over into the church. This week Dr. Iorg discusses different ways to engage with and disciple angry people in your ministry.


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Spirituality of Jonathan Edwards | JEC at Gateway Seminary

Dr. Chris Chun hosted a digital symposium with Dr. Michael Haykin and Dr. Robert Caldwell to discuss Edwards’ spirituality, devotional life and theological impact in American Christianity.

Chris Chun
Professor of Church History | Director, Jonathan Edwards Center
Dr. Chris Chun is the professor of Church History and the director of Jonathan Edwards Center at Gateway Seminary. Chris’ doctoral research at St. Andrews University was focused on the eighteenth-century Edwardsean Baptists in Britain. He also has served as president of The Evangelical Theological Society (Far West Region).

Faculty Dialogues: Dispensationalism or Not

In this episode of Faculty Dialogues, Dr. David Rathel and Dr. Paul Wegner held a live discussion on their views on dispensationalism.

David Rathel
Associate Professor of Christian Theology
Dr. Rathel is the associate professor of Chrisitian Theology at Gateway Seminary. Prior to Gateway, Dr. Rathel supplied pastoral care to churches in the United States and Scotland, served as an Adjunct Professor of Theology and Philosophy for the Baptist College of Florida, and provided teaching assistance for the University of St Andrews.

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