Should Christians tell other Christians to not evangelize if they are not churched themselves?
Sadly there is a fraction of the professing church, that is publicly scrutinizing (even shaming) other professing Christians for not currently attending a local church, without even knowing all the facts; that my friends has got to stop.
Today I saw the following post on an undisclosed street preachers Facebook page.
“Evangelistic men, if you are not submitted to elders and an ekklesia, you aren’t fully discharging your duty. #RepentOrStepDown”
The following is what I wrote in comment under his post (yeah i agree, it’s a long comment).
It is my policy to generally NOT comment on another’s FB page in a disagreeable way, but I’m going to here (forgive me for that).
First and foremost I am churched, and my local church approves of my street preaching. Though there are some at my church that ‘merely tolerate it,’ there are some that are outspoken supporters of the street preaching. Recently my pastor and I went out together to evangelize. However I have learned to be more graceful to other Christians that are not as fortunate to be churched in that way. Frankly I am no better than them. I believe without a doubt that there are more pastors and elders that need to “repent and step down,” than there are “evangelistic men.” As a matter of fact, we have the Scriptures as our benchmark to evaluate our Elders and Deacons (Titus 1:5-9, 1 Tim. 3:1-7, 1 Pet. 5:1-4).
But who am I to indiscriminately tell an anonymous social media audience to “repent or step down” from evangelizing for not being churched (or submitting to one), without even knowing all the facts. Yes Theology and Ecclesiology matters. But Ecclesiology can be very complex and complicated (in regards to the unchurched), as perhaps only 3% (a guess) of our local churches within America are doing evangelism Biblically. I know some individual Heralds that are Biblical, but their local churches are not (if that were possible). But I can’t think of a Biblical local church, with unbiblical heralds.
What shall we say to the millions of professing Christians from those other 97% of churches? Shall they obey their unbiblical churches, while disobeying thee ultimate authority (Christ and the Scriptures)?
What shall we say to the Christians in China that have been persecuted, and split apart from their churches? Shall we tell them don’t evangelize, “repent or step down” unless you’re back under your previous elders?
The three elders of my previous church (who I love and respect) evaluated my non-profit, and street ministry. During our third formal session they affirmed my ministry (the Lord’s) as “a gift and calling by the Lord.” However they believed to be ‘sent out’ by their church, that according to their “Rules and Order,” I must be “licensed and ordained.” But not ordained by them. My Elders wanted to present me before their next So California regional session to be “licensed and ordained” by the Elders of their 28 churches. That was so bizarre to me, that I spent some time receiving counsel from Christians ‘outside’ that local church. The consensus was, that yes there would be many benefits having that new title, but it could not be supported with Scripture (thee infallible sufficient authority). So I respectfully declined because I believe that was unbiblical (or extra biblical). When we legislate requirements that are extra biblical, we start treading into the waters of legalism, or a Rome-like hierarchy. Consequently we had to leave that church. Otherwise I would have been perceived as being un-submissive or rebellious towards my Elders (of whom we love and miss much). By God’s grace my wife and I reunited with our previous local church.
While striving to remain objective here, the following is only a summarization. I’ve seen extremes on both sides.
I’ve seen those that stand outside abortion mills yelling “where’s the church?” (via their Facebook posts). But at the same time they would tell Christians that if you’re Elders did not send you there, then you should “repent and step down.”
I’ve seen the same with heralds that are antagonist towards the local church, but they complain about “the church” for not being out there. I can’t tell you enough how thankful I am to stand alone, and worship the Lord in the streets, weather I be alone or with someone else.
I’ve seen terrible street preachers that clearly show a disdain for the local church (via their Facebook posts).
I’ve seen evangelists go on Facebook and toot their own horns, patting themselves on their backs, beating their own chest, as they arrogantly boast about being sent out by their Elders (or local church). Doing so while vilifying other Christians that have not been blessed by a local church in that way.
I have seen a pastor here in Redlands engage in heavy shepherding and legalism, as he vowed that “seminary” is a “requirement” to be an Elder, and that he believes Heralds are nothing but loudmouths.
I’ve seen a church that sent our evangelism team to knock on the doors in an apartment complex across the street from our church, to invite them to our church; but without the Gospel. But I rebelliously gave one of my own IPOC Gospel tracts to every person at every door.
I’ve seen one church where their Elders preferred that I do evangelism Ray Comfort’s way. I never thought I’d be in the predicament to leave a church, because their leadership desired that I had another person’s personally (aka idol worship).
I’ve seen Christians that have turned their local churches, or their local leadership into idol worship. Imagine that. Worshiping the church, over THE CHRIST whom died for the church. When I stand and preach, I do that from His authority, for His glory, for He is the Rock that I stand upon.
And the stories go on, and on, and on (and we all have stories don’t we).
There’s some bad cops out there, shall we not have cops? There’s bad pastors out there, shall we not have pastors? There’s some bad evangelists out there. Shall we reduce the pool down to only those that have a letter from their Elders?
Yes it is right, and good, and Biblical to be churched. But it is more right to submit to the Lord more than the church, lest we commit idolatry. Though Christ’s bride is beautiful, she is a byproduct of the sinful nature of man. Therefore we must put the Godhead and His Scriptures first, lest we commit idolatry. Because the Glorious Christ is thee head of the church.
This subject matter is nothing that can be resolved on Facebook. But I do believe that these matters need to be carefully judged and evaluated on an ‘individual case by case’ basis. I do believe it would be wiser to ‘call them out’ by name, rather than anonymous blanket statements. I could not imagine telling fellow Christians to not evangelize, if they are not currently “submitted to elders and an ekklesia.” The older I become in Christ, and the more I learn, the more I realize how insufficient, irrelevant, and replaceable I truly am. Though God does command every man to “repent,” I have no authority to tell an unknown ambiguous group of men to “step down” from evangelizing.
Lastly, let us remember the Words of the Apostle Paul. In Philippians 1:12-18 Paul shared how while he disagreed with some, but if Christ was being preached, he rejoiced. More about that below.