Sit in any elders’ meeting and it will become quite clear. Since many of you have not been a part of such a meeting here is an inside look: problem-solving, putting out brush fires, fixing what is broken, apologizing for hurt feelings, repairing damaged relationships, and frantically covering last-minute items like graduation banquets, gospel meetings, and Vacation Bible Schools. Many elders become weary and discouraged, and then they lose sight of the mission. Instead of taking the battle to the enemy, we end up playing defense.
A look into our past is a great way to learn (Romans 15:4). When God led the church of the Old Testament (Israel) out of Egyptian bondage, He set them on an offensive path. In preparing them for battle, Moses told Israel, “The Lord your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you . . .” (Deuteronomy 1:30). To overcome their fears, God’s people need to be constantly reminded of God’s power: “Ye shall not fear them: for the Lord your God he shall fight for you” (Deuteronomy 3:22).
During the battle for the land of Canaan, Joshua kept the minds of the people on their offensive God (Joshua 10:8, 10, 14, 19, 25, 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 42; 19:47). In Joshua’s final charge he said, “Ye have seen all that the Lord your God hath done unto all these nations because of you; for the Lord your God is he that hath fought for you” (Joshua 23:3). The link between God and man is without question. When we fight, God fights, and He never loses a battle!
After Israel came to her zenith, her mission was not complete. We can never stop fighting. Turn one page from Joshua to the book of Judges and notice what happened after Joshua’s death. “Who shall go up for us against the Canaanite first, to fight against them?” (Judges 1:1). Overtime, Israel stopped fighting. They inherited wells they did not dig, houses they did not build, and vineyards they did not plant. They were comfortable. “Therefore, the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites . . . Neither did Manasseh . . . Neither did Ephraim . . . Neither did Zebulun . . . Neither did Asher . . . But the Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites . . . Neither did Naphtali . . . and the Amorites forced the children of Dan into the mountains” (Judges 1:21, 27-34).
Israel did not need God because they were satisfied. Instead of continuing to “evangelize” they rested. How did God respond to their lack of fight? “The anger of the Lord was hot against Israel” (Judges 2:14). Nevertheless, God raised up judges to deliver them and provoke their spirits to fight. As long as they fought, they enjoyed the blessings of God, but when they stopped fighting, they were oppressed.
Christians born in the 1970s inherited the golden years of the Church—one out of every 80 people in our nation was a member of the church of Christ. We had full buildings and national recognition. What did we do with it? We played defense. Our offensive efforts were put on the back burner, and we have been losing ground for the past 40+ years. God will not fight for a church who does not fight for Him. Is it possible that history is repeating itself? Is God allowing the church of Christ to disintegrate in America right before our eyes?
HTHSOE was created to provide congregations with an offensive strategy to win souls and grow. It will not happen by accident or from occasional meetings with unfocused and unproven methodology. HTHSOE goes right to the heart of a congregation to provide elders and preachers with training, tools, and strategy to engage the enemy in an all-out fight for souls.
One thing is certain, if we do not fight for God, He will not fight for us. Too many Christians and entire congregations have been overcome with fear and refuse to engage sinners. A few congregations are still enjoying the spoils of past victories and are complacent with big budgets and large buildings. Few are engaging local communities with the gospel. We must remind the brethren; we serve an offensive God!
Lafollette church of Christ, Tennessee: Ben Shaffer reports, “I had my first study with Phil on Monday. It went well, but we only got through the first section of book 1. We are continuing this week and should finish book 1. Two other visitors agreed to study with Mark (one of the elders) and his wife that I had no idea about. They just surprised me with that this morning. It’s been great, brother. We’re so grateful for the help you give and are giving others.”
Adairsville church of Christ, Georgia: Rick Lawson (preacher) reports, “About 50 of our members stayed after our meal and afternoon devotional to write compassion cards today. We all count it as a great success, but there is always more to be done! We are praying for you and your work.”
Cordova church of Christ, Tennessee: We welcome the Cordova congregation as they have enrolled in the House to House/Heart to Heart School of Evangelism. Their preacher Bruce Hatcher attended our seminar while training the students at MSOP. Bruce reports, “The personal evangelism seminar really fired us up at Cordova. I have heard nothing but positive comments about it. I know of at least three members who have targets they plan to study with, and one already has a study scheduled. The Wednesday night following the meeting, a young man who had been visiting our congregation for a few months told me he had questions about his baptism in a denominational church. We studied Does it Matter that night and took care of it. He attended the seminar and said he wants to be a soul winner. Two days later, I found out a 15-year-old who had visited our seminar with his father (both from a sister congregation) had baptized his grandmother using Does it Matter! We know this is just the beginning of what God has planned in our area.”
Deerfoot church of Christ, Pinson, Alabama: We welcome the Deerfoot congregation to the House to House/Heart to Heart School of Evangelism. This congregation has a rich history in evangelism and the elders committed to using all their resources to focus on it once again.
Buhl church of Christ, Idaho: Peyton Hoskins (preacher) reports, “Since using Back to the Bible, we have had six conversions. Our latest baptism was Nancy. As Christians, we have the privilege and knowledge to help someone begin her walk with Christ. To God be the Glory!”
Jacksonville church of Christ, Alabama: “We had our first study with Dray and Theresa last Tuesday. Dray is a Mormon and Theresa is a Baptist. They received the teaching well. We continue to build our relationship with them with meals and other opportunities.”
North Jefferson church of Christ, Mt. Pleasant, Texas: Kris Groda (preacher) reports, “Received this message from a member at the Blossom Church of Christ. I preached on their Wednesday night series. I did the lesson on the politically incorrect Jesus. This is a text I received, ‘Really enjoyed your lesson. Last night when we got home, Butler, our 14-year-old, said he wanted to be baptized. So we went back up there and did it. It’s like you said; sometimes it takes the team. We’ve been talking to him and studying for a while now as you can imagine, but maybe you said something last night that helped.’”
Oak Hill church of Christ, Rome, Georgia: Matt Wallin reports, “When I was asked to speak on evangelism at Connect Conference, I knew that I needed to make sure I was living it and being consistent before I could speak about it. I have been leading a men’s study in my home for a year and a half but haven’t been focusing on the lost very much. I started praying again for an opportunity to study with someone.
My wife and I turned our basement into an apartment and rent it to travel nurses. Each time, we mention something about going to church with us while they’re in town if they’re interested. Kylene was very interested. She asked to borrow a book she saw in my basement: a devotional book by Joe Wells.
She texted me and my wife and said she has always known about God but not had a relationship with Him, and she would like us to study with her. She has a great heart and studying with her was easy! We had two studies before leaving for Connect. We asked her to read the book of Acts while we were gone. When we got back, she had read half of Acts and was ready for another study. After the third study she was ready to become a Christian. So on Friday night, less than a week after Connect, I baptized her after using Back to the Bible.”