By George Welsh Tyler
The congregations of the churches of Christ need not only the enlargement resulting from evangelism, but also the edification resulting from Christian nuture in truth. They cannot grow in one direction alone. They must grow both within and without. They must reach out to win the unsaved to the Lord Jesus Christ, and also edify those who have found salvation through the Son of God. They cannot afford to sacrifice either of these important tasks in the interest of the other. Both of them are plainly included in the Great Commission which Christ gave His disciples.
Both the vision and the zeal of the local congregation are indicated in a large measure by the type of evangelistic program which it adopts and carries on, according to its resources and ability. What a pity it is when a church with five talents performs like one with only two! It is a terrible tragedy when congregations bury the talent which the Lord expects them to use to the best of their ability. No church can expect to really prosper when it neglects using all the talents which He has placed at its disposal. Too, no congregation can expect to find life if its attention is directly, solely and selfishly centered upon itself, and especially on the progress and prosperity of its material organization. I once heard an elder of a congregation say, “We will have to get in some new members, with money, to help us pay off our church debt.” This is far different from the Spirit of Christ who told His disciples to evangefize in order that men might be saved! No church which tries sincerely to carry on the Lord’s program of evangelism will find itself without the blessing of the Lord, no matter bow difficult to carry on its work. Neither churches nor individual members will receive a real blessing from the Lord if they neglect the Lord’s program of evangelizing regardless of how prosperous they are from the worldly viewpoint. It is ‘Evangelize a n d Edify ” or die.
It is very unfortunate that many new born Christians are immediately neglected after they have been won to Christ Jesus as Lord. It is no wonder that there is a “falling away” of many! Brethren, the obligation of the church is Dot fulfilled when a convert has been buried with his Lord in baptism. He must be taught to “observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” This includes working in the vineyard of the Lord. His character must be transformed, his understanding of ihe gospel enlarged and his attitudes brought into harniony with those of Christ. Paul wrote to the Corinthiali church, “Be ye imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). Again, brethren, the work of edification, like that of evangelism, never ceases. When the convert has been trained to be an active worker in the church and given opportunity to use his talents for the Master and for the salvation of men, he is not going to become a lost convert-“a fallout.”
Truth Magazine XX: 46, p. 722
November 18, 1976