Encouraging, Living, Reaching

Why Are So Few Being Saved In Our Assemblies?

Why Are So Few Being Saved In Our Assemblies?
Nov 17 Tags: gospel | 9 Responses Print Save as PDF

This article is not based on Scripture but on observation and conversation. The observation is of many assemblies in Ontario and Florida and some knowledge of others in a few States. The conversation is with those in leadership and others who are gifted as evangelists.

The conclusion is this: there seems to be few adults saved through assembly ministry and outreach. Those who visit this site “assemblyHUB” and contribute to it are those who love the Lord and the local assembly. Out of this audience, how many of us have been instrumental in reaching an unsaved adult and seeing him/her come to the Lord and ultimately into assembly fellowship? Beyond our personal involvement, how many of us know adults that were reached by someone in an assembly? In thinking of this question, limit the time frame to the past ten years.

It’s Not a Lack of Effort

There have been and are great efforts in North America and around the world to spread the Gospel and reach the lost. Out of all the efforts, how many adults or families have ended up in assemblies as a result? These comments are not in any way meant to diminish the efforts, many of which I have been and will continue to be involved with for the Gospel’s sake. From camp work, prison ministry, radio work, and websites, the gospel goes out and must continue to do so, as we know it is the power of God to salvation.

Experientially, the assemblies that are growing numerically seem to be doing so in a large part by attracting Christians and integrating them into assembly life. Most assemblies that I know that are growing in this way are not sacrificing principles for the sake of numbers. There is the attractiveness of Biblical preaching and Christ exalting ministry that is appealing to other believers.

It’s Not a Lack of Desire

Reaching the unsaved is a different matter. Every group of believers I know would love to see people saved, and they pray to this end. Most assemblies have some form of outreach or have engaged in gospel efforts over the years.

Our culture and society is changing and the methods of engaging people are different now than in a previous generation. In the past, people would come to gospel meetings or Sunday Schools, but now it is difficult to reach communities in this way. People by and large had some exposure to the Bible and perhaps had been to an evangelical Sunday School. Now our neighborhoods are populated by people with no Biblical knowledge or exposure and, in many cases, immigrants to this continent.

Time to Consider New Methods

The message is changeless and the principles must be upheld, but the methodology must be challenged. The challenge is how to reach an increasingly insular society with the Gospel, and even beyond this, how to get new believers integrated into assembly life.

As stated, these thoughts are based on observation, not Scripture, so there may be a reaction to the physical and the practical in what is a spiritual activity. I only put these things out for consideration and contemplation with no sense of judgment or condemnation but certainly with concern.

Editorial Note:  Gary raises an important point in this article. In the coming months we will consider new methods in reaching the lost. We will explore new options for evangelism as we seek to win souls for Christ.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect any other author or an official position of the assemblyHUB team.

Gary McBride

Gary and Gloria were first commended to Zambia and then to Northern Ontario and there they were involved in the work at Northland Bible Camp. After twenty-eight years in the North they moved to Southern Ontario for nine years and were involved with New Life Prison Ministry (nlpm.com) and itinerant ministry. Gary and Gloria are now back in Northern Ontario, Gary is still involved in writing and broadcasting on Hope Stream Radio and an itinerant ministry.

9 Responses to Why Are So Few Being Saved In Our Assemblies?

  1. Avatar
    Don Huntington

    One of the many answers is that we (I) have become so attracted to this present world that we give little thought to the horrors of hell. Think about it. If we (I) spent even ten minutes a day thinking about what it will be like for my unsaved family and friends to be in that awful place for eternity, wouldn’t we (I) spend more time on my knees “sowing in tears”?
    Another aspect is that in many assemblies we are content with the expression “it’s good enough for us”.

  2. Dave Bingham
    Dave Bingham

    Thank you, Gary, for saying out loud what has become the norm in many assemblies. We know from ll Tim. 3:1 – 8 that the culture will resist and get worse in opposing the gospel. This should motivate us to concerned prayer for wisdom/ways to address people distracted from the reality of their lost condition.

  3. Avatar

    If I can offer more feedback. Coming from an assembly back ground ( I won’t mention which Gospel Halls I was a member of) I have noticed that the gospel preached is very watered down. The gospel halls from my area no longer preach on the desperation of man in his sin, the Holiness of God and the problem with this. When we hear that famous expression “God is good”, it should send chills down our spine because we are the absolute opposite.
    God will only bless a faithful message. It’s getting harder and harder since everyone is offended, however it’s the only way to bring the lost to Christ. We can be soft messengers, however it is not a soft message. Preach it with boldness, but with compassion.
    The last message before leaving a gospel hall in my town ended with this. “In the book of Romans, we’re told if we confess our sins we will be saved, and for children, it won’t take that long since you’re not that bad”.

    That is a complete lie, we are so desperately wicked in our sins, we lost the focus on God’s holiness.

  4. Avatar
    Steve Adair

    I have been saying the same since the 80’s and unfortnatley since then, many assemblies have had to close their doors for lack of foresight.
    As the son of a 60+ year assembly preacher and elder I appreciated the 32 years that I spent in the assemblies receiveing the foundational teaching that still hold true to today. I had the opportinity though from the mid 80’s to minister in many different denominations that were thriving in growth, not only in numbers, but in those coming to the Lord.
    Gary is right in his assessment of those assemblies that are growing. They are not watering down the Gospel, nor are they compromising on the fundamental doctrines that the Bible teaches. I stop short of saying the doctrines that the Assemblies believe as I do believe that some have been misguided in tradition vs doctrine. What these growing assemblies have done is change the way they do “church”.
    In todays society we have to understand a few key elements of of non-christians. They are the generation that has seen the most change in technology, science, education, media and entertainment that no other generation in history has seen so fast. And it will not stop. The assemblies have to compete with this for the non-christians time. You have to be as professional as the theatre they were at last night! You have to be as relevant as the online, up to the second news that they are reading in the internet. You have to be as entertaining as the concert they were at last week. In short….you have to keep them engaged. But this doesn’t mean watering down the Gospel. It means delivering it in a different way. It may mean that those that are ministering in your assembly have had their time and it’s time to let another generation take over. It may mean having to seek that pastoral person who has dedicated his life to bettering himself in the Word, in his knowledge and in his presentation.
    It’s possible to change! It’s not easy to change! But God will honor that change and you will see the fruits of your labour.
    Gary I appreciate you’re honesty in what is still a very controversial topic within the assemblies.

    God Bless,

  5. Avatar
    Ron Hofman

    The first thought that came to me while reading your article is, “Perhaps in North America. Globally, I’m not so sure if this is true.” And to give a Scriptural response, I’d have to quote the Apostle Paul, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” (1 Cor. 3:6)
    I understand your concern though. Since I came to Christ in 1975, I’ve noticed a great many changes in our society which may contribute to the lack of interest in our gospel message, no matter how it’s presented. At one time, we preached in the open air in Central Park. Can’t do that anymore. You could hear Romans 1 quoted on the radio. Can’t do that anymore. As a society, we’ve moved into an era of legalized murder (abortion) which will soon be extended to the terminally ill and aged (euthanasia – http://healthydebate.ca/2014/08/topic/euthanasia-assisted-death). And of course, gay “marriage,” which is not marriage at all, but any attempt to express that thought in public today will be met with anger and hostility.
    The introduction of the genderless Bible a few years ago has now developed into introducing and developing genderless rhetoric in our schools (https://www.genderspectrum.org/). Religious tolerance does not extend to the Christian or the Christian message or even those who hold to Christian values. We have moved into a time where our North American society has no use for, and has no need of a God or His gospel. It is a difficult time.
    And yet, God is calling out a people for His name. Even in our country, there are a few, here and there who respond to God’s mercy and grace. How? Through developing real relationships with those who do not know God. They have to see God/Jesus in us. We have to be open and real and loving. We need to make friends and be friends, not with the world, but with those who are still in the world. Our “citizenship is in heaven” but the people we are around everyday are slaves to sin. They need to see the real us. And they need to want what we have.
    Large gospel meetings, where we try to “bring people out,” are a thing of the past in our country – at least for now. We need to open our Bibles (for us), our homes (for our friends) and our hearts (to God), and God will bless. I can plant; you can water. God will make it grow.

  6. Avatar

    Gary has brought up some good points and I’m pleased that Assembly Hub is going to further look at this matter. There are however, a few items I have witnessed in my own personal life in coming to Christ only 4 years ago at the age of 31. One huge struggle that I always had was a topic that many evangelical churches don’t want to discuss and that is hypocrisy. Myself on the other hand, I find that being willing to discuss this in evangelism with the unsaved is a HUGE thing that helps. What some people may not grasp is that many unsaved walked away from a prior church background because there was more people not “living it” but lots of preaching it. Just a thing that I’ve taken in with a lot of people, and noticed many evangelicals don’t want to touch. Perhaps having the Lord search our hearts for this dark area is the first thing to do. Confess and repent, THEN preach the Gospel!

  7. Avatar
    Keith Burge

    I think before we go and try to make wholesale changes in our assemblies we need to examine what indeed has changed. Has the message changed? No it certainly has not. We need to and should be preaching CHRIST! His death, burial, and bodily ressurection. Has the HOLY SPIRIT changed? Most definitely not!!! He is the same yesterday, today, forever. Has God’s word changed? No, scripture records that “heaven and earth will pass away but my words shall not” then what has changed? Could it be that the heart of man has become increasingly evil and wicked? Has it become harder and harder? The answer is YES, YES, YES and YES. For those of us in the assemblies it is not a question of changing to be more modern, we need to challenge ourselves to get back to the basics. The basics of not just reading GOD’s word but fervently studying it, the basics of attending prayer meetings and bible studies, not just to be present but also to participate meaningfully. The basics of being a living testimony for Christ in the world and not just at the weekly assembly meetings. The basics of visiting with our unsaved friends and showing them genuine christian love. The assemblies that I know and love were filled with Godly christian men and women who studied to show themselves approved, who prayed consistently and fervently and showed compassion and true christian love for one another. I for one need to challenge myself to do better. To let the love of Christ shine through me. To let my unsaved friends and co workers see a difference in me. Then when the opportunity presents itself I need to be ready with memorized scripture to lead him to Christ. But it does not end there. I need to willing to have personal bible studies with that person and continue to help this young believer in Christ. We need to do the follow up and not pass him off to another person or church, thinking that we did our part.

  8. Avatar

    Yes, this is not the case in the Philippines. My experience is when I was in the States is that I tend to offer so much more than just the plain gospel when I evangelize. I realized this and decided to just declare that Christ died for the sins of mankind and just let the Spirit do the work. It worked here in the Philippines, I hope it will work in Florida if the Lord allows me to go back and serve Him there.

  9. Avatar
    Ryan Hagey

    If I can be a bit more superficial, I honestly think one of the things that is a barrier for growth in some assemblies is formality. This can take many forms, but I’ll restrict this comment simply to clothes.

    At many assemblies I have visited, I would say the majority of the men are in a jacket and tie, but that’s not the reality of how most men dress anymore. In fact, I know a lot of men in their 30’s that only own the suit they were married in (and it may not fit them anymore). I try to talk to any visitors we have at my home assembly, and you’d be surprised how many of the younger ones (under 40) that didn’t grow up in an assembly say something about how everyone is so “dressed up”.

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