Errors of Modern Evangelism

Dr Pierre Coovert

It was about 30 years ago that my wife and I started talking about the results of modern evangelism. We were seeing the results of the style of evangelism we had been taught both in church and in college. Something didn’t seem right. Most of those who made professions of faith gave no evidence of a changed life afterward.

The study that followed led us to the things I am now teaching in my “Unlocking Biblical Evangelism” series. You can contact me if you would like me to come at teach this to your church.

Modern Evangelism Teaches A Life Enhancement Gospel

We are told that in the last days men will only think about what is important to them (II Timothy 3:1-5). To capitalize on this many “soul-winners” have turned the Gospel into a message of life enhancement. As fundamental Baptists we often criticize those like Joel Osteen for his prosperity gospel. Those of his ilk are well deserving of this criticism because their gospel is false.

We do some of the same things when we tell others that Jesus is the answer to all of our problems. While there is truth in this statement, it gives the impression that all of our problems will go away when we get saved. We forget passages like II Timothy 3:12 which tells us “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

Although there are both temporal and eternal benefits to salvation, salvation is not about us, it is about God. Our salvation shows God’s love, grace, and power. It brings glory to Him. God cannot show His perfect, unselfish love within the Godhead because everyone is equally good and equally loving. It shows His grace in His making a way to save sinners. True salvation shows God’s power to change the lives of those who are truly saved.

Ask Paul if all of his problems went away when he got saved. Look at what he suffered as a result of his salvation. I think his life shows a real change.

Modern Evangelism Does Not Result In Changed Lives

The objective of evangelism is not a prayer, it is seeing new creatures. We are all familiar with II Corinthians 5:17 that says we are new creatures in Christ. Galatians 6:15 tells is that Christianity is not about the ceremonies and rituals, it is about becoming a new creature.

Ephesians 5:8 says the same thing in a rather unique way. It says, “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:” Note that it does not say you were in darkness. It says you were darkness. It says you are now, as a Christian, light, not you are in the light.

In the Bible those who professed Christ were changed enough to stand strong against some of the worst persecution the world had ever seen. Remember Paul?

Modern Evangelism Results In Many False Converts

Matthew 7:21-23 tells us about false converts: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

This is the result of the “just believe in Jesus” way of soul- winning. There are two problems with this type of evangelism. The first is that the Bible says we are to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, not just on Jesus (Acts 16:31). We are to believe on Him as the Lord, that is to say the One to whom we must answer. We are to believe on Him as Jesus. This name means Jehovah our Saviour. We are to believe on Him as the Christ, the chosen, anointed, and only one who can save.

The second problem is this method doesn’t require true faith. Sometimes the Bible uses faith and belief interchangeably, but they do not always mean the same thing. Faith and the type of belief that saves means much more than simply believing something to be true. Faith is believing something enough to produce evidence in the life of the believer. The faith that receives the grace of Ephesians 2:8-9 is a faith that produces the works of verse 10.

This causes people to try Jesus to see if He works. This results in false converts who think because they did something they are saved. These are those we saw in Matthew 7 above. They may be religious, but they are not know by our Lord.

Modern Evangelism inoculates against the Gospel

One of the worst aspects of much modern evangelism is that it inoculates against the Gospel. When we tell someone that they are save simply because they prayed a prayer, and meant it at the time, we make it harder to reach them at a later time if their salvation was not real. In addition, if a prayer is required for salvation you will have a hard time finding anyone who got saved in the Bible.

Although we are saved by grace, through faith, without works, there are some things necessary to bring a person to the point of true biblical faith. Listen to Psalms 34:18: “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” This comes from conviction of sin and repentance. Without these no one can be saved. You can read the other articles on Biblical Evangelism on this site to see the truth of this.


Here is something that appeared in a major Baptist newspaper:

“She sits in a funeral service for a 17 year old gang member. All the pall bearers, along with the infant son of the deceased, are sporting gang colors. Shot and killed in a gun fight not 10 minutes from her church, the only ray of hope in the blackness is that the young man’s mother said he asked Jesus to save him at the Street Reach program run by ______ Baptist Church.”

I know churches that claim to win 200 souls a year and their churches are not growing. Something is wrong. One high pressure soul-winner I know put it this way: “It is our responsibility to win souls but not to get them into church.” This attitude leads to trying to get numbers rather than true converts.

“Soul-winning” churches that are not growing and “soul-winners” that are more interested in numbers are entirely too common. Don’t you think it is time to look closely at what we are doing and compare it with the Scriptures?

Copyright 2017 Pierre Coovert, All rights reserved

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