How shall they hear?
Good question. The apostle Paul asked it in Romans 10:14 and we should still be asking. Exactly how will they hear — those folk in the shopping mall; those teenagers hanging round the town square; those tower-block residents round the corner; those mums at the school gate waiting for their kids to come out of school?
Paul tells us that they need a preacher, someone to bring them the gospel message. But most won’t come to church because its neither ‘cool’ nor cost-effective (they have better ways to ‘waste’ their time!).
Open-air preaching can reach some of the multitude who are hiding from God, but for the most part they simply pass by on the other side, shrinking from the proffered leaflets. How shall those hear who really don’t want to — at least publicly?
You’re right; it isn’t easy. But suppose you could personally enter every home in your neighbourhood or village and preach the gospel to a captive audience. Wouldn’t that be the perfect way to make them hear?
Of course, they won’t let a live preacher across the doorstep, but they actually have no choice if a paper preacher is posted through their letterbox. And that’s where the Christmas evangelistic issue of Evangelical Times comes into its own.
Yes, we would much rather have these people sitting under live preaching in our churches or elsewhere. But since they don’t turn up on Sundays the paper preacher can be the next best thing.
Firstly, it gets into the home where it can be perused in private without any public display of interest in the gospel. Secondly, its attractive and substantial character makes it much more difficult to bin than a flyer or leaflet with the latest pizza-parlour offer or handyman advert.
OK, perhaps the free newspapers also suffer that fate, but the Christmas ET looks different and feels different, and generally makes them turn a page or two! A significant proportion of those who receive it do, we believe, read something that catches their eye among the many and varied articles and features contained in its pages.
Will they listen?
But do they listen to the paper preacher? Well, yes, up to a point. But, of course, they can still stop their ears and refuse to hear. As the proverb says, ‘You can lead a horse to the water but you can’t make it drink’. To our knowledge, no church has reaped a harvest by using the December ET, although individuals have been brought to Christ.
But then, as regards the gospel of God’s grace in Jesus Christ, our task is to inform not to impose. Only God the Holy Spirit can make a lost soul ‘stoop down, and drink and live’. Only he can apply the gospel savingly to those who are dead in trespasses and sins. Our task — and solemn responsibility — is to set the water of life before them, one way or another. Here, we believe, is one effective way of doing so.
In recent years each December has seen over 100,000 copies of the evangelistic ET distributed by churches and individuals throughout the UK. But those participating in this ministry are only a small fraction of evangelical churches — even among those that advertise in our ‘Holiday churches’ summer feature.
So why not join in this year? The papers are available in bulk at greatly reduced prices for pre-ordered copies.
If you would like a free inspection copy of a previous year’s evangelistic issue, please contact the ET office by phone or e-mail.