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Unchurched or Unsaved? What Our Vocabulary Reveals About Our Beliefs

Furthermore, we are more comfortable reaching out to people with a Christian background than we are witnessing to Muslims and Hindus. In our increasingly multi-cultural world, it is much easier to reach the nominally “Christian” who already share our assumptions than the foreigners who are moving into our neighborhoods.

2. Secondly, our shift in vocabulary indicates a lessening of the eternal stakes of salvation.

I am thankful for the Conservative Resurgence in our denomination that has brought a renewed emphasis on orthodox theology. But I wonder how much of that orthodox theology is truly believed by the people in our churches.

Do we truly believe that Jesus is the only way to God?

Do we truly believe that people outside of faith in Christ will perish eternally in hell?

Do we truly believe that people who claim to be Christians and yet show no fruits of repentance have a false assurance of salvation?

Do we truly believe that people of other faiths are “lost and dying and on their way to hell”?

If so, why do we lessen the stakes of evangelism by speaking in a way that emphasizes church attendance over salvation in Christ?

Of course, evangelism includes inviting people into our churches. But inviting people to church is not the goal; it is only one means whereby God may accomplish his mission of seeking and saving the lost.

So yes…we believe that people need what the church has to offer. But we are not called to sell others on the greatness of our church but to proclaim the greatness of our Savior.

In the choppy waters of our postmodern, increasingly post-Christian society, staying on course is no easy task. Jesus told us the way is narrow. God commanded the Israelites: “You shall be careful therefore to do as the Lord your God has commanded you. You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.”

If we need a course correction, let’s do it now. Let’s remind our people of the Christ-centeredness of the Great Commission. Let’s plead with lost people to flee to Jesus and escape the wrath to come. Let’s make evangelism and outreach about Jesus again. Maybe then, we will see lost people be found, unsaved people get saved, condemned people be pardoned, and then (and only then) unchurched people be churched.  

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Trevin Wax is first and foremost a follower of Jesus Christ. Trevin currently serves the church by working at LifeWay Christian Resources as managing editor of The Gospel Project, a gospel-centered small group curriculum for all ages that focuses on the grand narrative of Scripture. He has been a regular blogger since 2006 and regularly contributes articles to publications such as Christianity Today. He authored two books, "Holy Subversion: Allegiance to Christ in an Age of Rivals" (2010) and "Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hope" (2011).