What is pre-evangelism,
Why is pre-evangelism so important?
What is pre-evangelism? Pre-evangelism is preaching a message
to the unconverted & unsaved people of the world which they
can understand and will lead them first and foremost into the
knowledge that God exists, created all things, and is in ultimate
control of all things.
When a person has been brought to understand these things--then
and only then is he or she really ready to receive the gospel
of Christ, the gospel of Salvation. As Paul brought out in I Corinthians
2:9-12, the gospel, the things of God, are not discernable or
understood by the uncalled, unconverted people of the world.
As Jesus pointed out in John 6:44, it is God the Father who calls
an individual, bringing them to Christ. But when John 6:44 is
added to other Scriptures dealing with the same subject, you'll
soon see that God tends to call those who have come to believe
he exists and subsequently desire to have a relationship with
him. But the more knowledgeable a person is in this world's system
of education, especially in the theory of evolution, the less
he or she is going to believe that God even exists. Thus, these
more educated individuals will never call out to God or Jesus
to come into them and form a relationship with them. They have
thus been deceived by this world's godless educational system,
which has been cleverly put together under the guiding hand of
Satan himself. Thus straight-forward evangelism may not work as
well with the more educated of this world.
How a person is brought to the knowledge that God exists and is
in control is what pre-evangelism is all about. Prophecy, both
fulfilled and ones that are in the process of being fulfilled,
prove God's existence and the veracity of his Word beyond a doubt.
So do well researched books proving Creation verses evolution.
These subjects, properly presented, often bring about a change
in an unconverted person's attitude toward God--replacing skepticism
with genuine belief. Then when a person has reached this point,
if he so desires, God will often extend the "call" talked about
in John 6:44. As Pastor J. Mark Martin of Calvary Community Church
of Phoenix, Arizona brought out in a sermon, God is not going
to call a person who is skeptical and thus doesn't want to be
called. He said it would be like a young guy asking a girl to
marry him whom he knew hated him. That would be stupid. God isn't
stupid. He calls those who want him, knowing he exists, knowing
he created all things and ultimately controls all things.
The main thrust of Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong was prophetic teaching
and creation vs. evolution teaching, geared to an unconverted
unsaved world audience. He was the undisputed master of pre-evangelism.
Let's try to have it in our hearts to possess the humility to
learn from him in this essential area, which will help us bring
the more educated people of the world to Christ in far greater
numbers than we ever have before. Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong, founder
of the Worldwide Church of God, was one of the most successful
radio and television evangelists to ever go over the airwaves.
Jesus used him to create a revival in a small insignificant old
covenant Sabbatarian Christian Church. The Plain Truth Magazine
and printed literature of that church enjoyed some of the widest
circulation among the unconverted people of the western world
and the United States of any Christian evangelistic group going.
Although he had major doctrinal errors in the area of not properly
understanding the new covenant, so did the old covenant Christian
Church the Lord was using him to revive. If the Lord was indeed
using him to create a revival in an old covenant Christian Church,
which then turned into another Christian Church, then it was only
natural the Lord couldn't let him understand what they didn't
understand. The revival had to be created first, and that is exactly
what the Lord did through him. Hindsight is 20/20, isn't it now.
But we can't ignore his success. It is well worth looking at this
success to see if we can learn something from it that we're missing.
His intent was to follow Jesus Christ where Jesus was leading
him, and to preach the "gospel of the kingdom of God" to a
sinsick world before Jesus Christ's 2nd coming. His
intent was to follow the instruction of Jesus in Matthew 24:14.
That's O.K. as far as it goes. Now we should ask ourselves, "What
is there about his preaching of "this gospel of the kingdom" that
made his message so dynamic and attract so much attention
among the unchurched and unconverted?"
Mr. Armstrong boldly proclaimed and preached what he thought was "this
gospel of the kingdom", firmly believing all those whom God wasn't
presently calling to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ--the vast
majority of mankind alive today--would have their opportunity
for salvation in Christ at the time of the Great White Throne
Judgment if they died, or in the Millennium if they lived through
the Tribulation. (As I have said elsewhere, this question about
the destiny of the "unsaved dead" and the major Bible resurrections
needs to be researched and studied more thoroughly by all. If
he was right in this area, we need to change that part of our
approach to preaching the gospel.) But what was it that grabbed
people's attention and kept them interested in the message? It was a
religious message, and almost everybody I know in the unconverted
outside world wants absolutely nothing to do with a religious
message. Part of the success in getting people's attention
was that he was preaching what he thought was "this gospel of
the kingdom" as a witness and proclamation--not necessarily as
a call to join or give your heart to the Lord (which really turns
people off). What he had discovered was that the more educated
unconverted, unsaved people of the world need to be pre-evangelized before
you can ever attempt to evangelize them. Then those that show
a keen interest beyond the point of pre-evangelizing, you evangelize.
We have been missing the first step to evangelizing in the western
educated world. Mr. Armstrong wasn't. He absorbed the unpopular
teachings of a small old covenant Christian Church and mushroomed
the small group that he was ministering to (19 people, one congregation)
into a revival of old covenant Christians which was 150,000 members
strong, whose pre-evangelizing gospel message then went
out and spanned the globe! What do people hear from evangelists
now? "If you don't accept Jesus in your lifetime you're
going to burn in everburning hellfire! How to win
friends and influence people! And if we're wrong about that statement,
double, triple shame on us. People could listen to Mr. Armstrong's
message without feeling threatened or boxed in. They didn't feel
pressured. Many listened and gave enough attention to what he
was saying to actually learn something about what the Bible said.
That's far more than the rest of Christianity has been able to
do with this group of humanity.
So what about the success of Herbert Armstrong's radio/T.V./printed
evangelism? What made him so successful in getting the unsaved
world's attention? For one thing, he focussed his message on the
part of the gospel Jesus described in Matthew 24 which describes
end-time world conditions--war, famines, disease epidemics. These
are attention-getting topics. He made his audience look at where
the world was heading--gave them a dose of physical reality in
two major areas:
The danger of high-tech global world war.
The danger of famine due to overpopulation and insufficient
agricultural resources to feed the hungry growing population
of the world.
He then pointed to the future reign of Jesus Christ and the
resurrected saints over the world in the Millennium as the only
solution to these "unsolvable problems" that mankind is about
to face. Mr. Herbert Armstrong spoke to the world on their own
understanding level and he did it in a dynamic way. He was an
advertising man and an expert at marketing information.
Now where was Herbert Armstrong wrong in his concept of
"this gospel of the kingdom"? His concept fit Matthew 24 perfectly.
But the gospel preached by Paul and evangelical Christians for
almost 2,000 years was and is the "gospel of Christ." Matthew
24:14 is a very real responsibility and commission for the end-time
body of Christ. Upon close examination, you'll find that what
Jesus termed as "this gospel of the kingdom" includes both aspects,
the one Herbert W. Armstrong preached and which Jesus described
in Matthew 24, and the aspect Paul and evangelical Christians
preach, which Jesus described in Matthew 25. Matthew 24 is a highlight
of the prophetic 2nd coming events leading up to the
Millennial rule of Jesus, and by inference includes all the 2nd coming
and Millennial prophecies, Old Testament and New. Matthew 25 is
a highlight of the gospel of Christ, and by inference includes
all the epistles of Paul, Peter, and John which themselves describe
the gospel of Christ in fine detail. Mr. Armstrong's version consisted
only of the Matthew 24 part, and evangelical Christianity's version
of "this gospel of the kingdom"
consisted only of the Matthew 25 part. What's wrong here?
Are we missing something? Herbert Armstrong was.
We all know that. But are we missing what he had right??? When
you discover you may not be correct in your understanding of something
you are preaching, do you continue preaching that, or do you stop
and do some heavy research? Come on people, let's examine ourselves.
Time is short, and many people need reaching before Jesus
returns. As Jesus said clearly in Matthew 24:14, he wants them
all reached! That's a tall order that demands that we re-tune
our approach where needed to reach the right group of people with
the right harvesting tool.
A third area where Mr. Armstrong was correct: Satan and the demon
world have this world by the gonads, plain and simple. This is
not God's world right now. God definitely owns the world, but
he has permitted Satan to rule over it, unseen by mankind. 95
percent or more of mankind is directly or indirectly under Satan's
influence in one way or another. The kingdoms of this world belong
to Satan. In Matthew 4 we see that Satan offered them to Jesus
if he would bow down to him. Jesus never corrected Satan saying, "No,
you're wrong, these kingdoms are not yours to give." For the time
being the kingdoms of the world are Satan's to do with as he pleases.
Some few people are directly under Satan's influence, but most
are indirectly under it. These people are not called, converted,
born-again, or anything that comes close to it--thus they
all are under Satan's invisible but very real authority and control.
Jesus is coming to end all of that (read Matthew 24, Revelation
19, and Revelation 20:1-3,7-10.)
When people looked at the world around them and then at what Mr.
Armstrong preached about this evil world, and it being Satan's
and not God's right now, many could identify with that. They could
understand that and the physical knowledge of Jesus Christ's 2nd coming
to end all of that. Mr. Herbert Armstrong was correct in that
area. But we are still missing something which he was aware of,
and even evangelical Christians are aware of. He knew that people
who do not have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them do not understand "the
things of God." As Paul stated in I Corinthians 2:9-12, man knows
the things of man by the spirit of man which dwells in him. Man only knows
the things of God by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in him.
Read I Corinthians 2 for yourself. Let it sink in. Christianity
has been busy preaching something to the unconverted world that
they cannot understand!!! Mr. Herbert Armstrong never attempted
to do that. By Jesus' own description of Matthew 24-25, the part
of the gospel of the kingdom the world can understand must accompany
the gospel of Christ--the part they don't possess a mind to understand!!! Mr.
Herbert Armstrong was a master at what Mr. Tkach Jr. termed as
pre-evangelizing the unconverted. He was a master at preparing
people to receive the gospel of Christ. But he stopped short of
ever giving them the gospel of Christ. That was his error. People
must be made ready to accept Christ by telling them things they
can comprehend, not telling them things they cannot yet understand.
Preaching the gospel of Christ to unconverted people is like taking
a deaf person to a concert or a blind person to an art gallery
full of beautiful paintings.
SO WHAT MAKES ME SO SURE MR. HERBERT W. ARMSTRONG HAD SOMETHING
SO RIGHT THAT WE OTHER CHRISTIANS ARE ALL MISSING IN OUR "GOSPEL"
APPROACH TOWARD THE MORE EDUCATED UNCONVERTED OF THIS WORLD?
The following are some timely quotes taken from Fred Heeren's
masterful work (vol. 1) "SHOW ME GOD, What the Message from Space
Is Telling Us About God." (Wonders that witness, vol. 1). Mr.
Heeren uses scientist's own admissions and statements to prove
God's existence and Divine Creationism. Mr. Heeren totally backs
up my statements about Mr. Armstrong being on the right track
as far as his insight and ability to market God's Word to the
unconverted world in general--to create a belief in God based
on fact and not fancy. I have taken key quotes from Mr. Heeren
to prove my point, just as he did from skeptical scientists to
prove his points. So incorporate what follows into what I said
about what I think is wrong with the approach we're taking in
"gospel" to the educated world.
"Getting on the same wavelength of many people today means recognizing
that they may have a higher regard for science than for preaching
[cf. I Corinthians 2:9-12: the unconverted mind does not understand
the things of God.] And they're more interested in self-improvement
and in expanding their perspective of spirituality than in narrowing
their views into denominational categories." Pp. 19-20.
"Getting on the same wavelength of many people today means that
we recognize that they are skeptical about the Bible's claims." P.20.
Just to interject some interesting facts about Mr. Armstrong,
he answered the skeptic's questions with hard-hitting articles
in the Plain Truth Magazine about Bible prophecy--fulfilled and
unfulfilled--and how true science disproved evolutionary theory.
High School and college professors learned to hate the Plain Truth
Magazine because of students who would bring in some of these
hard-hitting articles which disproving evolutionary theory, because
they had no good answers to counter with. Half of "this gospel
of the kingdom" (Matthew 24:14) is found in Matthew 24--the prophetic
half that the unconverted can understand.
"The idea that our adult acquaintances will become Christians
when we invite them to Church, that they just need to be exposed
to the gospel by hearing our pastor, is an idea that is questionable "
"Society has moved on while Christians have remained stuck in
the rut of their own little enclaves, some using overly-emotional
preaching styles " "Money spent on evangelistic outreach,
of course, goes to reaching an almost exclusively Christian audience.
Christian T.V. [in many but not all cases] originally founded
for the purpose of spreading the gospel, now has as its purpose
the hawking of "Jesus Junk." P.20.
"Christian T.V. is now direct response marketing in its purest
form. Those unbelievers who do catch a glimpse of "Christianity" while
switching stations are more firmly convinced that the Christian
faith is indeed irrational. It's for unthinking herd-followers."
"Tuning into skeptics
Jesus consistently filled his teachings with common things easily
understood by his hearers, beginning with their earthly concerns,
not His heavenly ones. To farmers and fishermen He spoke of seeds
and fishing nets. To the Samaritan woman at the well, He spoke
of water " "In each case Jesus was ready to address the specific
concerns of His hearers." P.13.
"When Paul preached to the people of Athens, he started by quoting
some of their own poets. He referred to the statements of respected
writers of Greek culture in order to show a logical contradiction
between these commonsense truths [of the Bible] and their metaphysical
beliefs. First he quoted Epimenides: "For in him we live and move
and have our being,"
and then Cleanthes in his Hymn to Zeus: "We are his offspring" (Acts
17:28). "Since we are God's offspring," Paul argued, "we should
not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone--an
image made by man's design and skill." (v.29). Before launching
into his argument, once again, the evangelist was prepared to
start talking about the views of his listeners.
"One of the chief needs for the witnessing Christian today is
to be prepared to reach skeptics. As this millennium draws to
a close, American Christians are increasingly encountering people
who lack even the most basic beliefs about the God of the Bible.
Pastors, Bible study leaders, missionaries and concerned friends
are often hard pressed to know how to begin to present the gospel
to them." P.14, para. 2-3.
During the late 1960's the Plain Truth Magazine had such hard-hitting
articles which scientifically tore apart evolutionary theory that
High School science teachers learned to hate and dread the magazine.
Many, including myself, came into a firm belief in the Bible and
the literal existence of God because these hard-hitting articles
successfully made a case for creation and tore apart evolutionary
theory. The Plain Truth Magazine itself was a masterful magazine
of pre-evangelism, and within its pages offered, free of charge,
booklets and books that pre-evangelized to its worldly audience
to an even greater extent. The Plain Truth successfully fulfilled
its role, when we understand what that role was--pre-evangelism--proving
God's very existence to a skeptical world. Its role never was
to convey the gospel of Christ to either the world or to other
Christians. That is not the purpose of pre-evangelism. Since Mr.
Armstrong didn't really understand the gospel of Christ, he used
this tool of pre-evangelism to bring 150,000 people to the doorstep
of the Worldwide Church of God instead of into a knowledge of
the gospel of Christ, which would have brought them into a fuller
relationship with Jesus Christ. But Jesus didn't inspire him to
do this. He just inspired him to develop the tool of pre-evangelism
to one of the highest levels this tool has ever been developed
to. Now if we're smart, we'll study the man Jesus used to develop
this tool and study his techniques. Pre-evangelism and the gospel
of Christ (evangelism) can be blended. As a matter of fact, that
is what Jesus did in his discourse given in Matthew 24 and 25.
First, you prove to the skeptical mind that God exists, and is
in total control of world events (prophecy and fulfilled prophecy),
then you present Jesus through the gospel of Christ (Romans 1-8
is an ideal group of Scriptures that does this).
"Parents, youth leaders, Bible study leaders, and pastors need
to get ready to tackle the scientific problems raised by the schools
and by the media. Gaining an understanding of the bare evidence
in science actually gives Christians the opportunity to turn
the situation completely around: the Christian can raise far greater
problems from science for unbelievers than unbelievers can raise
for Christians "p.19.
"At no time in modern history has the average westerner been so
lacking in the foundational knowledge of the God of the Bible,
the events the Bible describes, and of Jesus' place in history.
We are in much the same situation as the 1st century
Church, needing to educate in order to witness."p.21. "Getting
on the same wavelength of people today often means that we recognize
that they lack the foundation for belief that past generations
And that is what pre-evangelism is all about, providing
the foundation for belief. What many theologians forget is that
the Bible has contained within its' pages the foundation for its'
own verification. Check out Isaiah 40 and 41 where God challenges
the skeptic. Look at how God himself challenges the skeptic to
prove himself against God and his proofs for the Bible's veracity.
God demands Bible skeptics to come up with better proofs than
he does through fulfilled prophecy. The Bible is chock full of
fulfilled, historically verifiable prophecies--some of which lead
right up to Jesus Christ's 2nd coming. It can't just
be coincidence that half of Jesus Christ's description of "this
gospel of the kingdom" mentioned in Matthew 24:14 was the Matthew
24 prophecy of his 2nd coming. Jesus himself said "this
gospel of the kingdom" would be preached to a very wide audience--the
entire world! And then the end [of this age of
Satan and man] would come. The "gospel" we evangelical Christians
try to reach the world with--the gospel of Christ--is not geared
for this worldwide audience all by itself. Jesus in his Matthew
24-25 discourse clearly shows that
"this gospel of the kingdom" must be geared to this worldwide
audience by containing 1) a physical/prophetic description of
His 2nd coming along with the world events leading
up to it, and 2) a description of the gospel of Christ--what it
means to be a Christian--Matthew 25.
As I pointed out earlier, Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong's version of
the gospel was shallow, only half there, for it only contained
the Matthew 24 part. Modern evangelical Christianity's version
is incomprehensible to the wide world's unconverted masses because
it is aimed at Christians--and as Paul states in I Corinthians
2:9-12, unconverted mankind is incapable of understanding "the
things of God", which the gospel of Christ most certainly is!
Look at it this way: The Matthew 24 section of "this gospel of
the kingdom" is the outer wrapper--it is the outer wrapper or
mailer envelope for delivering the gospel of Christ. Mr. Herbert
Armstrong had the mailer envelope in tact
and was faithfully delivering it to the world--the World Tomorrow/Kingdom
of God message and all--but the mailer was empty of its'
intended material--the gospel of Christ! Mr. Armstrong
was way ahead of his time in understanding and successfully using
the delivery package, the mailer. He was used by Jesus to discover
what that mailer was and to successfully use it, so we could all
see how it worked. That is basically all he was
called to do. The by-product of that effort raised up a whole
Revival of old covenant Christians starting from a congregation
only 19 members strong. This revival ended up in its heyday with
about 150,000 followers, many of whom had the Holy Spirit dwelling
in them, as evidenced by the fruit of their lives. (So before
condemning Mr. Armstrong for the errors he had, and saying he
may not have been a Christian by our concepts of what makes a
Christian, look at the clear evidence of the Holy Spirit--and
that well over one third of the Worldwide Church of God followed
Mr. Tkach Sr. into the new covenant, something never heard of
in all of Christian history.) That's how we know that Jesus was
indeed using Mr. Armstrong, even though he offended the daylights
out of most of us evangelical Christians. So Mr. Armstrong was
way ahead of his time as to how to deliver the message, but he
lacked proper understanding of what the inner message was. Christianity
through the apostle Paul's epistles has had this core message
for almost 2,000 years, but has lacked the delivery medium, the
delivery package. "This gospel of the kingdom"
is the outer delivery package and the inner
message combined. Matthew 24 and 25 was a brief synopsis given
by Jesus describing what the end-time gospel message to
the wide world would be comprised of. It is by no means the entire
message, it is a brief description of the message. By inference
Matthew 24 refers to all the 2nd coming/Millennial
kingdom-age prophecies found in both Old ad New Testaments. By
inference Matthew 25 refers to all the gospel of Christ Scriptures
found in Paul's, Peter's and John's epistles in the New Testament.
Mr. Herbert Armstrong had one section right and mainstream Christianity
has had the other for millennia. Interesting that Jesus would
reveal this "combination message package" at the time of the end
of man's age when discerning people can begin to detect elements
of the Matthew 24 scenario starting to bud forth in earnest. So
now we have taken a good look at what pre-evangelism is and also
a good look at the founder of a Christian Church who was a master
at pre-evangelism. Even if we have a hard time liking him because
of his treatment of the rest of Christianity, we can certainly
learn something valuable from what he knew and how the Lord used
him. We would be extremely short-sighted to not take a good hard
look at both Mr. Armstrong and how he pre-evangelized the world.
Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong's message generated huge interest amongst
the unchurched and unsaved, but he never used this pre-evangelism
message as a lead-in to presenting the gospel of Christ.
Why? Because he sincerely didn't possess an accurate understanding
of what the gospel of Christ was. When you fully realize what
Jesus called him to do, you'll understand why Jesus never gave
him, nor intended him to understand that knowledge. Will we, who've
possessed knowledge of what this precious gospel of Christ is
for almost 2,000 years miss the opportunity of the millennium
by not recognizing what the mailer package is for? It is
for delivering that precious gospel message Jesus would have us
deliver to the unsaved world. I honestly think, if Jesus resides
in us, that we can put aside our hurt and anger at how Mr. Armstrong
treated the rest of us Christians when we realize what it was
that Jesus was using him to give us. We have to look beyond the
human frailties of the ones Jesus uses to accomplish his will.
Each Christian leader He works through has his own function and
purpose in the Lord. We've been too guilty in the past of focussing
on the leaders the Lord places over us--focussing on their human
frailties--and not what the Lord is doing through them.
Realize, that almost any properly explained expository study on
second coming/Millennial kingdom-age prophecies can be good pre-evangelism harvesting
tools. The fields are white for harvest, just like Jesus told
us they would be. Paul said we are Ambassadors for Christ, representing
both Jesus and the Kingdom of God, our heavenly country from above. Pre-evangelism is
one of our key harvesting tools which the Lord has given us, and
this tool is mostly unused in the very parts of the world where
it could prove most effective, in the technological, knowledge
rich nations of the world. The Lord used Mr. Armstrong to give
us a superb example of how to use the tool. He also inspired Fred
Hereen to describe the tool for us.
[This is an abridged version of this article describing what pre-evangelism
is and what it should be used for. As you can see, some Christian
ministries are already starting to use the tool properly applying
it to non-believers and skeptics. If you are a minister, pastor
or church leader and/or scholar, the full unabridged version will
be made available on another website at some future time when
demand warrants it. It will cover and raise certain major topics
where differences in belief, understanding and interpretation
of God's Word exists among the various Christian denominations
and fellowships. To gain access to this site when it becomes available,
email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You will need to provide the name of the church you pastor, street
address, phone number of that church. I will then verify the phone
number via the headquarters of you denomination and give you a
call to verify your request. The reason for this, is the information
on the unabridged version has the potential to be spiritually
divisive in the wrong hands. If there truly are some differences
in understanding and interpretation in the area of Bible prophecy,
which there are, these need to be studied and resolved under the
direct guidance of the Holy Spirit, by the leaders in the various
Holy Spirit led Christian fellowships and denominations, not at
the ordinary member level. So if you are a pastor, minister or
church leader or scholar, be sure to email me expressing your
desire to see such a web site created. One will be created in
due time, if demand warrants it. Understand, I am 100 percent
for unity in the body of Christ, even extending to the doctrinal
level, if the Lord wants it to go that far, but I am not for divisiveness
and division. Airing these doctrinal differences of interpretation
is extremely divisive at the local member level, and I have witnessed