Andrew is the church planter at Corona OPC in Corona, CA. He is a Philadelphia native who attended Wheaton College and Grad School, as well as Westminster Seminary in California. He and his wife, Rebekah, have three young children.
This week, we’ll share Andrew’s responses to our first 3 questions….
Question: What is something that you believe and/or do in regards to outreach that has changed over your time in ministry?
Andrew: Since my start in ministry (which, admittedly, was not all that long ago), I’ve changed from a primary focus on formal outreach programs (Christianity Explored, Evangelism Explosion, etc.) to a focus on equipping individuals for gospel outreach. Formal programs still play an important role (our favorite at the mission work in Corona is Christianity Explored). Programs are limited, however, because so much depends on all of the real people involved and all the experiences they bring to a given outreach encounter. Each Christian is wired and gifted differently: we have a member who is skilled at direct but loving gospel presentations and others who are incredibly hospitable and have great opportunities for gospel witness that arise out of years-long relationship-building with neighbors. We also realize that the Lord uses different means in the lives of non-believers to bring them to faith—He knows their personalities and “wiring” better than we do! Some visit our churches out of curiosity, some readily engage with direct gospel presentations, and others come to faith after many years and many faithful and friendly efforts by believers in their lives to share the gospel. The Holy Spirit uses it all. What I encourage the members of the mission work to do is to think and pray about helping someone simply take one step closer to Jesus. Perhaps it’s a tiny step of introducing yourself to a neighbor, possibly becoming the first Christian they’ve ever met. Maybe it’s a medium step of inviting someone to church. Maybe you find someone willing to read the Gospel of Mark with you. Don’t despise the day of small things (Zechariah 4:10) because our God is the ultimate evangelist who can use our meager efforts to bring our neighbors to true faith in Jesus Christ.
Question: If the OPC and OPC churches want to continue to grow in our effectiveness in reaching the lost-what is the most important thing we need to work on and how or in what way(s) should we be working on it?
Andrew: The main thing is to get out there and do it! As our recently retired RHM, Dave Crum, has said (and this is a very loose paraphrase): we in the OPC can spend most of our time in the harbor perfecting a theologically-precise evangelistic boat while other churches are out in their perhaps leaky or garishly painted (but still seaworthy!) vessels bringing the lost aboard. Theological precision is incredibly important for long-term faithfulness—that is part of our heritage. But a related part of our heritage is Machen and the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions and Van Til witnessing to his neighbors and preaching on Wall Street. Each of these OPC ministers cared deeply for faithful gospel outreach. It is in the DNA of the OPC—with plenty of current examples as well—to give attention both to sound doctrine and to evangelistic zeal.
Question: What is something that has surprised you about outreach and evangelism to the lost as you have done it?
Andrew: In the words of a great Avett Brothers song, “No one is fine. And if you take the time to peel a few layers back, you will find true sadness.” Lost people at the very least have a vague sense that something is wrong with their life—whether they are willing to admit that is a different story. Of course we know that anyone in Adam is a covenant-breaker, so it’s no surprise to find low-level anxiety (and much more). But this is part of what makes the gospel of Jesus Christ, the second-Adam, such truly good news. We hold forth lasting grace and hope in an increasingly graceless and hopeless world.