“Wyatt Graham, Executive Director, The Gospel Coalition Canada, shares his thoughts with Bill McCaskell, Co-National Director of One Hope Canada”
In your post for The Gospel Coalition Canada you reference a new movement of evangelism. What characterizes this new movement?
This new movement is characterized by fidelity to the truth of the Bible and to preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Many churches that believe in the historic truths of Christianity are growing. This movement is also characterized by its age: its leaders and pastors are young—under 40—which bodes well for the movement’s future.
How can believers protect themselves from becoming discouraged with Canada’s spiritual condition and inadvertently adopt a victim mentality in light of negative societal changes and religious trends?
Canada’s spiritual condition is a cause for worry and discouragement. But if we remember three things, we avoid the victim mentality and can hope for a brighter future for the Gospel in Canada.
The first thing to realize is that Christ is building His church and the gates of hell will not overcome it, as we see in Matthew 16:18. If that’s true, how much more true is it that the gatekeepers of secular Canada will not overcome God’s work?
The second thing is to proclaim Christ faithfully in your context and wait twenty years. Here’s why: evangelical churches are growing, and the nations are overwhelmingly coming to Canada via immigration. This is prime time for Gospel work. In twenty years, we will have a flourishing evangelical church in Canada, which will be full of people from many tribes, tongues, and nations.
And what is the third thing to remember?
We need to recognize that many churches are in decline because they lost their grip on the Christian faith. For example, one church has tolerated an atheist pastor for about four years. The United Church is considering whether to dismiss her. It is not surprising that the United Church is, on average, closing one church per week. When you lose the Bible and the Gospel, you lose your church.
If we do our part, the Gospel will do its. When God works, discouragement evaporates. In the words of the psalmist, “Wait for for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD” (27:14 NIV).
What must Canadian Christians do to effectively engage their communities with the Gospel?
Canadians, especially younger Canadians, want us to be authentic and hold fast to our beliefs. Slick evangelistic techniques and church programs have lost their luster. Our culture is no longer Christian, so these things fail. What succeeds is honesty and compassion.
Here’s how to reach your community: tell people what you believe with love. That works.
You also have to believe in something. Traditional Christianity is growing, partly because it is grounded in something true, deep, and historic. In an age where we move from apartment to apartment every six months and migrate around the country for new jobs, Canadians want the historic doctrine of the church—something that is firm, real, and sustainable.
We confess God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit because the Bible and 2,000 years of Christianity has. Our faith is not something that changes with the winds of culture. That’s what makes it attractive.
Be honest, genuine, and don’t try to trick people. Never let your honesty be an excuse to be mean. Truth in love is the song of Christian evangelism. Plant your feet in the deep faith of the Bible, which Christians have confessed for two millennia. Give stability to an unstable world.
How do you see The Gospel Coalition Canada assisting the Canadian church to engage the nation with the Gospel?
The primary way is to encourage Christians to unite around a common confession of the Gospel. A faithful Christian testimony of the Gospel revives hearts of stones and gives sturdy truth to wavering souls.
TGC Canada will foster Gospel renewal by getting churches and pastors working together for Gospel ends, by promoting Gospel centered media on our website, and by hosting conferences to spiritually encourage Christians. Our first national conference is in Toronto October 29-31, 2018. We’ll announce the details on our website soon and encourage your readers to come and be encouraged by the Gospel.
Wyatt Graham is the executive director of The Gospel Coalition Canada (canada.thegospelcoalition.org). You can follow him on Twitter. He also writes at WyattGraham.com.