The way in which [Jonathan] Edwards sought revival of his church and the salvation of the lost ought to receive attention from Christians today. With an eighteenth-century perspective, Edwards worked to fulfill the Great Commission in his own life and pastorate. It is not necessary to adopt a certain model or method in order to advance the gospel in this world, but it is necessary that churches–see themselves as agents of Christ for the spread of the gospel. This means adopting what some call a ‘missional’ mindset, but may also be called more traditionally an ‘evangelistic’ way of life. Such a lifestyle will naturally look different than it would have in the 1970s, but believers today can proclaim the gospel just as Edwards did in his generation.
Through conversations and meals with neighbors, discussions in coffee shops, playing basketball at the local court, joining a book club, going to a local playground with one’s children, talking with strangers during an airplane ride, inviting people to church, and many other ways, Christians can evangelize the lost and work to bring people to saving faith, just as Edwards did in 1734. Pastor Mark Driscoll has written helpful material about this kind of life in books like Radical Reformission, which details how he sought to reach the lost people in Seattle in the early years of his ministry. For many of us, simply attempting to get to know lost people and becoming involved in our communities and neighborhoods would make a great first step.
(Stay tuned, as I hope to review this excellent set of primers to Jonathan Edwards’s life and thought in the coming months!)