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Stanley Horton
12.20.09

Wes Bartel
12.13.09

Jason Roy
11.29.09

Steve Donaldson
11.22.09

Norma Champion
11.15.09

Byron Klaus
10.25.09

Alton Garrison
10.18.09

Ed Stetzer
9.27.09

Aaron Boyd
9.20.09

Eric Treuil
9.13.09

Lynn Krogstad
8.30.09

Lew Shelton
8.23.09

Todd Starnes
8.16.09

Gary Smalley
8.9.09

Rick Cole and Dary Northrop
8.2.09

George O. Wood
7.26.09

Sarah Reeves
7.19.09

Mercy Me
7.12.09

Chuck Bengochea
7.5.09

Jeremy Camp
6.21.09

Kary Kingsland
6.7.09

Doug Clay
5.31.09

Owen C. Carr
5.24.09

James T. Bradford
5.17.09

Marlo Schalesky
5.10.09

Wally Nelson
4.26.09

Leeland and Jack Mooring
4.19.09

Mark Trammell
4.12.09

Chris Sligh
3.29.09

Scott Krippayne
3.29.09

David and Marie Works
3.22.09

Paul Baloche
3.15.09

Ellie Kay
3.8.09

Deborah Burke
2.22.09

Max Lucado
2.15.09

Sy Rogers
2.8.09

Duke Preston
1.25.09

Kenny Luck
1.18.09

Todd Tiahrt
1.11.09


2008 Conversations


2007 Conversations


2006 Conversations


Conversation: Ed Stetzer

Be, Do and Tell the Gospel

Ed Stetzer serves as the missiologist and research team director at the North American Mission Board in Alpharetta, Ga., and co-pastor of Lake Ridge Church in Cumming, Ga. Stetzer has planted churches in New York, Pennsylvania and Georgia. He trains pastors and church planters and has written dozens of articles and books. He recently spoke with Ken Peckett of the AG Discipleship Ministries Agency.

evangel: As you have researched the state of the U.S. church, what principal strengths and weaknesses have you seen?

STETZER: Discipleship has come to the fore as a weak issue. We are not producing a lot of robust disciples. A recent Pew Forum study indicates many evangelicals are universalists and don’t have a grounding in the gospel.

Community engagement is also a weakness we consistently see. Churches are struggling to staff their own volunteer needs, let alone serve their community — the widow and the orphan, the sick and the poor.

Some of the strengths are that people are passionate about their love for God. They need to grow beyond just passion to actually have depth. We have a great amount of resources in the body of Christ that need to be marshaled in an appropriate direction. If enough churches became aggressive gospel machines of transformation, they could change the world.

evangel: You recently completed a survey for the Assemblies of God on the state of discipleship in the Fellowship. How does the AG compare to the wider Protestant church?

STETZER: I would say that Assemblies of God churches are doing better at many things than Protestant churches as a whole. Consistently, in different studies, we have seen that Pentecostals tend to show a more robust spiritual involvement than Protestants as a whole.

There were a few areas in our recent study where AG churches are actually lower than all Protestants (for example, people involved in community ministry). But, as a whole, AG churches did better in most areas.

evangel: What elements would you say produce a healthy, growing believer?

STETZER: Well, first, having been born again by the power of the gospel — I guess that is self-evident. Second, disciples should see the mission of God as their mission, being personally changed continually by the gospel by confession of sin, death to self, being filled with the Spirit — all those are essential. Ultimately for me, 2 Corinthians 5:15 says that “those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised” (NIV). So, I think that disciples should live God-centered lives rather than be self-centered in their living. That impacts everything that they do.

evangel: Are there steps that individuals should follow to grow spiritually?

STETZER: Some of those things for spiritual growth are going to be:

¥ A healthy, robust spiritual community (spiritual growth is supposed to take place in the context of community)

¥ Becoming deeply rooted in the Word of God (spiritual growth without scriptural foundation is ultimately an exercise in self-deceit)

¥ An Òothers-focusedÓ life.

evangel: What can the local church do to foster this growth?

STETZER: We need to preach a new normal where fervency and commitment are what is expected in church. That applies to so many things. Ultimately creating a culture of deeper discipleship and personal mission is what I see as missing in many settings.

evangel: How is the AG doing on developing biblical knowledge in members — specifically when it comes to core doctrines?

STETZER: The results show that your churches think that they are struggling in biblical knowledge, particularly among youth and children, and doctrinal knowledge at a higher level, and they seem to be dissatisfied with the state of discipleship within your churches. That is a statement from your pastors to your Movement — that you need to find ways to bring more biblical knowledge and doctrinal teaching and find ways to evaluate it. But, as a whole, Assemblies of God pastors say their churches affirm, teach and believe in your Assemblies of God distinctives.

evangel: What can churches do to maintain their health and reach their community for Christ?

STETZER: They need to root themselves in a passion for their Lord instead of their preferences in themselves and the institution they have grown to love. We have to preach, teach and communicate that it is a misshapen Christian life to always receive and never serve. We need to join Jesus on His mission to share and show the good news of the gospel. Luke 4 connects the gospel with the poor, the sick and the captive; Luke 19:10 says the Son of Man came to seek and save those who were lost.

evangel: What action steps can our readers take?

STETZER: Ultimately the local believer has to be, do and tell good news. They need to be good news in the way they live, do good news in the way they serve and tell good news because they are called to share Christ with other people. If we are being, doing and telling good news, then we are missional disciples. The survey data shows us we have a ways to go until missional discipleship is what shapes us and forms us as believers.

Comeback Churches: How 300 Churches Turned Around and Yours Can Too by Ed Stetzer is available at Gospel Publishing House.

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