In today's climate, the general public is suspicious of trying to be sold a bill of goods from organized religions and "snake-oil salesmen." Many will not darken the door of a church let alone have the time or the inclination to devote to attend a 3-5 week campaign. Yet,these same people are starved for authentic connection, friendships, and purpose in their lives. That's a clear signal to us that we, as a denomination and as local congregations need to keep shifting our emphasis from evangelism as a one off event run by the professionals, to something we do as everyday, caring Christians.
In fact, many growing churches that practice such relational evangelism, and that have intentionally organized house to house fellowship groups to recieve and nurture people in the faith, do not need to do much, if any, public evangelism. They have cooperated with the Spirit in the way to most effectively love people, and "God adds daily to their number those who are being saved."
Even if, from an Adventist perspective, such churches don't have all the correct doctrine, God will still bring people into their midst because he knows that they will be well taken care of in a healthy, safe, caring environment. And, if we are not equipped, ready or inclined to recieve people in our local churches in this way, God won't bring them to us in any significant number... no matter how much doctrinal truth we may toss at them, or how many dollars we continue tossing at public campaigns.
After my recent experience of being told I can't help lead a sabbath school class of early teens because I don't agree with certain doctrines I realize just how far we in the Adventist church have fallen away from relationships. I knew the elements were there, declaring that we had the truth or that we are the remnant etc. Doctrine can never replace relationships, either relationships between people and relationship with God. Until we realize this as a church, and it has to begin at the local church, there appears little point in continuing the charade. We have as the Newsboys sang "lost the plot".
I was watching the John Ankerberg show today and he went over his most controversial shows. The most controversial was the one on the Masons. What one of the former Masons said struck me. He went over how Masons in their secret ceremonies teach a good works to salvation. He lamented that some of the things he taught these people would end them up in hell. What struck me was how much of Christianity has bought into, it is what you know rather then who you know. As if salvation was from what we know, the doctrines we know and accept. This has lead churches like the Adventist church to try and spread their doctrines rather then to spread the love of God through relationships. It has made us ineffective Christians, poor ambassadors of Christ.
And the worst thing is so few are listening and if you listen and want to do something you have to constantly fight those who refuse to listen and refuse to do anything new or different. You can't debate a doctrine because then you are attacking a "truth" and if they give in than they are on the road to compromise and any step away from what they hold as truth would be evidence that the people are falling into apostasy.
I also today heard a useful sermon by Brian Houston of the Hillsong church entitled "a place of agreement" very appropriate to this issue because the Bible calls us to agree but in reality few of us agree on anything. Check it out on Itunes.