Evangelism or witnessing is a time sensitive, yet perpetual ministry. It is time-sensitive because the message the evangelist delivers to the world is time-sensitive. It is perpetual because “as long as we have breath we should, in one capacity or another, continue to minister,” for if we are living a Christ-like life, Christ “will always provide opportunities for witnessing.” These opportunities may come in various forms, but they all give credence to the concept of the perpetuity of ministry. As long as there is sin in the world, we need to witness; as long as Satan is allowed to roam freely on this earth, “seeking whom he may devour,” we need to witness about God’s saving grace; as long as Jesus has not yet come to take us home to live with Him, we need to witness. Witnessing is indeed a perpetual ministry.
As a child, I often thought of my uncle as being a little “over the top.” Eccentric? Yes, but more than that. His most striking idiosyncrasy to me, at nine or ten years old at the time, was his readiness to do God’s work: to tell someone about Jesus, to give someone a denominational tract or magazine, to do “Harvest Ingathering” even on days when it seemed that the entire town was in the streets
celebrating the country’s carnival, to engage someone about the soon coming of the Savior. Perhaps he had it right, for once one has become a believer, one has picked up the mantle of perpetual ministry - just as the disciples did in their day, just as Christ Himself did after His baptism. They took no days off, no breaks, no holidays, no sick leave, no maternity leave, no vacation; they did not retire; they even had to “let the dead bury the dead.”
The believer who undertakes this ministry must understand the importance and seriousness of it. He must understand that his is not an elected or appointed office that he holds for a period of time. He must understand that his is an elective office that is continuous and that is not constrained by time nor circumstance. It does allow for changing emphasis to focus on other areas of the work, but it does
not allow for stoppage or termination. This does not imply that the life of a believer consists only of preaching and giving Bible studies. It does mean, however, that the believer must practice what he preaches, and that at all times he must mirror Jesus to the world “in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” (2 Timothy 4:12).
To ensure the perpetuity of its ministry, the church must pursue programs that emphasize nurturing, training, and retaining of its members, especially the new believers. The new believer must not be left to fend for himself, but he must be “cared for, fostered, trained, and educated in the ways of the Lord.” Church leaders and other members must always be on alert for those newly baptized members who tend to remain in the background, who seem overwhelmed, who seem disillusioned, who tend to slip through the backdoor. The church must implement programs to encourage or retain these members.
If every church member accepts the challenge to befriend the new believers and to be a “channel through which the Lord can send light and grace” to them, the perpetuity of the ministry will never be in question.
What steps can the church take to nurture the new believers?
Considering the fact that many newly baptized members somehow slip through the backdoor, what must the church do to bring them back into the fold?
It is said that every believer should be involved in witnessing. Can you think of anything that can preclude a believer from being a perpetual witness?