What is pre-evangelism,
Why is pre-evangelism so important?
What is pre-evangelism? Pre-evangelism is
preaching a message to the unconverted & unsaved people
of the world which they can understand and will lead them
first and foremost into the knowledge that God exists, created
all things, and is in ultimate control of all things.
When a person has been brought to understand
these things--then and only then is he or she really ready
to receive the gospel of Christ, the gospel of Salvation.
As Paul brought out in I Corinthians 2:9-12, the gospel, the
things of God, are not discernable or understood by the uncalled,
unconverted people of the world.
As Jesus pointed out in John 6:44, it is God the Father who
calls an individual, bringing them to Christ. But when John
6:44 is added to other Scriptures dealing with the same subject,
you'll soon see that God tends to call those who have come
to believe he exists and subsequently desire to have a relationship
with him. But the more knowledgeable a person is in this world's
system of education, especially in the theory of evolution,
the less he or she is going to believe that God even exists.
Thus, these more educated individuals will never call out
to God or Jesus to come into them and form a relationship
with them. They have thus been deceived by this world's godless
educational system, which has been cleverly put together under
the guiding hand of Satan himself. Thus straight-forward evangelism
may not work as well with the more educated of this world.
How a person is brought to the knowledge that God exists and
is in control is what pre-evangelism is all about. Prophecy,
both fulfilled and ones that are in the process of being fulfilled,
prove God's existence and the veracity of his Word beyond
a doubt. So do well researched books proving Creation verses
evolution. These subjects, properly presented, often bring
about a change in an unconverted person's attitude toward
God--replacing skepticism with genuine belief. Then when a
person has reached this point, if he so desires, God will
often extend the "call" talked about in John 6:44. As Pastor
J. Mark Martin of Calvary Community Church of Phoenix, Arizona
brought out in a sermon, God is not going to call a person
who is skeptical and thus doesn't want to be called. He said
it would be like a young guy asking a girl to marry him whom
he knew hated him. That would be stupid. God isn't stupid.
He calls those who want him, knowing he exists, knowing he
created all things and ultimately controls all things.
The main thrust of Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong was prophetic
teaching and creation vs. evolution teaching, geared to an
unconverted unsaved world audience. He was the undisputed
master of pre-evangelism. Let's try to have it in our hearts
to possess the humility to learn from him in this essential
area, which will help us bring the more educated people of
the world to Christ in far greater numbers than we ever have
before. Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong, founder of the Worldwide
Church of God, was one of the most successful radio and television
evangelists to ever go over the airwaves. Jesus used him to
create a revival in a small insignificant old covenant Sabbatarian
Christian Church. The Plain Truth Magazine and printed literature
of that church enjoyed some of the widest circulation among
the unconverted people of the western world and the United
States of any Christian evangelistic group going. Although
he had major doctrinal errors in the area of not properly
understanding the new covenant, so did the old covenant Christian
Church the Lord was using him to revive. If the Lord was indeed
using him to create a revival in an old covenant Christian
Church, which then turned into another Christian Church, then
it was only natural the Lord couldn't let him understand what
they didn't understand. The revival had to be created first,
and that is exactly what the Lord did through him. Hindsight
is 20/20, isn't it now. But we can't ignore his success. It
is well worth looking at this success to see if we can learn
something from it that we're missing. His intent was to follow
Jesus Christ where Jesus was leading him, and to preach
the "gospel of the kingdom of God" to a sinsick world before
Jesus Christ's 2nd coming. His intent was to follow
the instruction of Jesus in Matthew 24:14. That's O.K. as
far as it goes. Now we should ask ourselves, "What is there
about his preaching of "this gospel of the kingdom" that made
his message so dynamic and attract so much attention
among the unchurched and unconverted?"
Mr. Armstrong boldly proclaimed and preached what he thought
was "this gospel of the kingdom", firmly believing all those
whom God wasn't presently calling to a saving knowledge of
Jesus Christ--the vast majority of mankind alive today--would
have their opportunity for salvation in Christ at the time
of the Great White Throne Judgment if they died, or in the
Millennium if they lived through the Tribulation. (As I have
said elsewhere, this question about the destiny of the "unsaved
dead" and the major Bible resurrections needs to be researched
and studied more thoroughly by all. If he was right in this
area, we need to change that part of our approach to preaching
the gospel.) But what was it that grabbed people's attention
and kept them interested in the message? It was a religious
message, and almost everybody I know in the unconverted outside
world wants absolutely nothing to do with a religious message.
Part of the success in getting people's attention was that
he was preaching what he thought was "this gospel of the kingdom"
as a witness and proclamation--not necessarily as a call to
join or give your heart to the Lord (which really turns people
off). What he had discovered was that the more educated unconverted,
unsaved people of the world need to be pre-evangelized
before you can ever attempt to evangelize them. Then those
that show a keen interest beyond the point of pre-evangelizing,
you evangelize. We have been missing the first step to evangelizing
in the western educated world. Mr. Armstrong wasn't. He absorbed
the unpopular teachings of a small old covenant Christian
Church and mushroomed the small group that he was ministering
to (19 people, one congregation) into a revival of old covenant
Christians which was 150,000 members strong, whose pre-evangelizing
gospel message then went out and spanned the globe! What do
people hear from evangelists now? "If you don't accept Jesus
in your lifetime you're going to burn in everburning
hellfire! How to win friends and influence
people! And if we're wrong about that statement, double, triple
shame on us. People could listen to Mr. Armstrong's message
without feeling threatened or boxed in. They didn't feel pressured.
Many listened and gave enough attention to what he was saying
to actually learn something about what the Bible said. That's
far more than the rest of Christianity has been able to do
with this group of humanity.
So what about the success of Herbert Armstrong's radio/T.V./printed
evangelism? What made him so successful in getting the unsaved
world's attention? For one thing, he focussed his message
on the part of the gospel Jesus described in Matthew 24 which
describes end-time world conditions--war, famines, disease
epidemics. These are attention-getting topics. He
made his audience look at where the world was heading--gave
them a dose of physical reality in two major areas:
- The danger of high-tech global world war.
- The danger of famine due to overpopulation and insufficient
agricultural resources to feed the hungry growing population
of the world.
He then pointed to the future reign of Jesus
Christ and the resurrected saints over the world in the Millennium
as the only solution to these "unsolvable problems" that mankind
is about to face. Mr. Herbert Armstrong spoke to the world
on their own understanding level and he did it in a dynamic
way. He was an advertising man and an expert at marketing
Now where was Herbert Armstrong wrong in his concept of "this
gospel of the kingdom"? His concept fit Matthew 24 perfectly.
But the gospel preached by Paul and evangelical Christians
for almost 2,000 years was and is the "gospel of Christ."
Matthew 24:14 is a very real responsibility and commission
for the end-time body of Christ. Upon close examination, you'll
find that what Jesus termed as "this gospel of the kingdom"
includes both aspects, the one Herbert
W. Armstrong preached and which Jesus described in Matthew
24, and the aspect Paul and evangelical Christians preach,
which Jesus described in Matthew 25. Matthew 24 is a highlight
of the prophetic 2nd coming events leading up to
the Millennial rule of Jesus, and by inference includes all
the 2nd coming and Millennial prophecies, Old Testament
and New. Matthew 25 is a highlight of the gospel of Christ,
and by inference includes all the epistles of Paul, Peter,
and John which themselves describe the gospel of Christ in
fine detail. Mr. Armstrong's version consisted only
of the Matthew 24 part, and evangelical Christianity's version
of "this gospel of the kingdom" consisted only of the Matthew
25 part. What's wrong here? Are we missing something?
Herbert Armstrong was. We all know that. But are we missing
what he had right??? When you discover you may not be correct
in your understanding of something you are preaching, do you
continue preaching that, or do you stop and do some heavy
research? Come on people, let's examine ourselves. Time is
short, and many people need reaching before Jesus returns.
As Jesus said clearly in Matthew 24:14, he wants them all
reached! That's a tall order that demands that we re-tune
our approach where needed to reach the right group of people
with the right harvesting tool.
A third area where Mr. Armstrong was correct: Satan and the
demon world have this world by the gonads, plain and simple.
This is not God's world right now. God definitely owns the
world, but he has permitted Satan to rule over it, unseen
by mankind. 95 percent or more of mankind is directly or indirectly
under Satan's influence in one way or another. The kingdoms
of this world belong to Satan. In Matthew 4 we see that Satan
offered them to Jesus if he would bow down to him. Jesus never
corrected Satan saying, "No, you're wrong, these kingdoms
are not yours to give." For the time being the kingdoms of
the world are Satan's to do with as he pleases. Some few people
are directly under Satan's influence, but most are indirectly
under it. These people are not called, converted, born-again,
or anything that comes close to it--thus they all
are under Satan's invisible but very real authority and control.
Jesus is coming to end all of that (read Matthew 24, Revelation
19, and Revelation 20:1-3,7-10.)
When people looked at the world around them and then at what
Mr. Armstrong preached about this evil world, and it being
Satan's and not God's right now, many could identify with
that. They could understand that and the physical knowledge
of Jesus Christ's 2nd coming to end all of that.
Mr. Herbert Armstrong was correct in that area. But we are
still missing something which he was aware of, and even evangelical
Christians are aware of. He knew that people who do not have
the Holy Spirit dwelling in them do not understand "the things
of God." As Paul stated in I Corinthians 2:9-12, man knows
the things of man by the spirit of man which dwells in him.
Man only knows the things of God by the indwelling
of the Holy Spirit in him. Read I Corinthians 2 for yourself.
Let it sink in. Christianity has been busy preaching
something to the unconverted world that they cannot understand!!!
Mr. Herbert Armstrong never attempted to do that. By Jesus'
own description of Matthew 24-25, the part of the gospel of
the kingdom the world can understand must accompany the gospel
of Christ--the part they don't possess a mind to understand!!!
Mr. Herbert Armstrong was a master at what Mr. Tkach Jr. termed
as pre-evangelizing the unconverted. He was a master at preparing
people to receive the gospel of Christ. But he stopped short
of ever giving them the gospel of Christ. That was his error.
People must be made ready to accept Christ by telling them
things they can comprehend, not telling them things they cannot
yet understand. Preaching the gospel of Christ to unconverted
people is like taking a deaf person to a concert or a blind
person to an art gallery full of beautiful paintings.
SO WHAT MAKES ME SO SURE MR. HERBERT W. ARMSTRONG HAD SOMETHING
SO RIGHT THAT WE OTHER CHRISTIANS ARE ALL MISSING IN OUR "GOSPEL"
APPROACH TOWARD THE MORE EDUCATED UNCONVERTED OF THIS WORLD?
The following are some timely quotes taken from Fred Heeren's
masterful work (vol. 1) "SHOW ME GOD, What the Message from
Space Is Telling Us About God." (Wonders that witness, vol.
1). Mr. Heeren uses scientist's own admissions and statements
to prove God's existence and Divine Creationism. Mr. Heeren
totally backs up my statements about Mr. Armstrong being on
the right track as far as his insight and ability to market
God's Word to the unconverted world in general--to create
a belief in God based on fact and not fancy. I have taken
key quotes from Mr. Heeren to prove my point, just as he did
from skeptical scientists to prove his points. So incorporate
what follows into what I said about what I think is wrong
with the approach we're taking in preaching the "gospel" to
the educated world.
"Getting on the same wavelength of many people today means
recognizing that they may have a higher regard for science
than for preaching [cf. I Corinthians 2:9-12: the unconverted
mind does not understand the things of God.] And they're more
interested in self-improvement and in expanding their perspective
of spirituality than in narrowing their views into denominational
categories." Pp. 19-20.
"Getting on the same wavelength of many people today means
that we recognize that they are skeptical about the Bible's
Just to interject some interesting facts about Mr. Armstrong,
he answered the skeptic's questions with hard-hitting articles
in the Plain Truth Magazine about Bible prophecy--fulfilled
and unfulfilled--and how true science disproved evolutionary
theory. High School and college professors learned to hate
the Plain Truth Magazine because of students who would bring
in some of these hard-hitting articles which disproving evolutionary
theory, because they had no good answers to counter with.
Half of "this gospel of the kingdom" (Matthew 24:14) is found
in Matthew 24--the prophetic half that the unconverted can
"The idea that our adult acquaintances will become Christians
when we invite them to Church, that they just need to be exposed
to the gospel by hearing our pastor, is an idea that is questionable
"Society has moved on while Christians have remained stuck
in the rut of their own little enclaves, some using overly-emotional
" "Money spent on evangelistic outreach,
of course, goes to reaching an almost exclusively Christian
audience. Christian T.V. [in many but not all cases] originally
founded for the purpose of spreading the gospel, now has as
its purpose the hawking of "Jesus Junk." P.20.
"Christian T.V. is now direct response marketing in its purest
form. Those unbelievers who do catch a glimpse of "Christianity"
while switching stations are more firmly convinced that the
Christian faith is indeed irrational. It's for unthinking
"Tuning into skeptics
Jesus consistently filled his teachings with common things
easily understood by his hearers, beginning with their earthly
concerns, not His heavenly ones. To farmers and fishermen
He spoke of seeds and fishing nets. To the Samaritan woman
at the well, He spoke of water
" "In each case Jesus
was ready to address the specific concerns of His hearers."
"When Paul preached to the people of Athens, he started by
quoting some of their own poets. He referred to the statements
of respected writers of Greek culture in order to show a logical
contradiction between these commonsense truths [of the Bible]
and their metaphysical beliefs. First he quoted Epimenides:
"For in him we live and move and have our being," and then
Cleanthes in his Hymn to Zeus: "We are his offspring"
(Acts 17:28). "Since we are God's offspring," Paul argued,
"we should not think that the divine being is like gold or
silver or stone--an image made by man's design and skill."
(v.29). Before launching into his argument, once again, the
evangelist was prepared to start talking about the views of
"One of the chief needs for the witnessing Christian today
is to be prepared to reach skeptics. As this millennium draws
to a close, American Christians are increasingly encountering
people who lack even the most basic beliefs about the God
of the Bible. Pastors, Bible study leaders, missionaries and
concerned friends are often hard pressed to know how to begin
to present the gospel to them." P.14, para. 2-3.
During the late 1960's the Plain Truth Magazine had such hard-hitting
articles which scientifically tore apart evolutionary theory
that High School science teachers learned to hate and dread
the magazine. Many, including myself, came into a firm belief
in the Bible and the literal existence of God because these
hard-hitting articles successfully made a case for creation
and tore apart evolutionary theory. The Plain Truth Magazine
itself was a masterful magazine of pre-evangelism, and within
its pages offered, free of charge, booklets and books that
pre-evangelized to its worldly audience to an even greater
extent. The Plain Truth successfully fulfilled its role, when
we understand what that role was--pre-evangelism--proving
God's very existence to a skeptical world. Its role never
was to convey the gospel of Christ to either the world or
to other Christians. That is not the purpose of pre-evangelism.
Since Mr. Armstrong didn't really understand the gospel of
Christ, he used this tool of pre-evangelism to bring 150,000
people to the doorstep of the Worldwide Church of God instead
of into a knowledge of the gospel of Christ, which would have
brought them into a fuller relationship with Jesus Christ.
But Jesus didn't inspire him to do this. He just inspired
him to develop the tool of pre-evangelism to one of the highest
levels this tool has ever been developed to. Now if we're
smart, we'll study the man Jesus used to develop this tool
and study his techniques. Pre-evangelism and the gospel of
Christ (evangelism) can be blended. As a matter of fact, that
is what Jesus did in his discourse given in Matthew 24 and
25. First, you prove to the skeptical mind that God exists,
and is in total control of world events (prophecy and fulfilled
prophecy), then you present Jesus through the gospel of Christ
(Romans 1-8 is an ideal group of Scriptures that does this).
"Parents, youth leaders, Bible study leaders, and pastors
need to get ready to tackle the scientific problems raised
by the schools and by the media. Gaining an understanding
of the bare evidence in science actually gives Christians
the opportunity to turn the situation completely around:
the Christian can raise far greater problems from science
for unbelievers than unbelievers can raise for Christians
"At no time in modern history has the average westerner been
so lacking in the foundational knowledge of the God of the
Bible, the events the Bible describes, and of Jesus' place
in history. We are in much the same situation as the 1st
century Church, needing to educate in order to witness."p.21.
"Getting on the same wavelength of people today often means
that we recognize that they lack the foundation for belief
that past generations had."
And that is what pre-evangelism is all about, providing
the foundation for belief. What many theologians forget is
that the Bible has contained within its' pages the foundation
for its' own verification. Check out Isaiah 40 and 41 where
God challenges the skeptic. Look at how God himself challenges
the skeptic to prove himself against God and his proofs for
the Bible's veracity. God demands Bible skeptics to come up
with better proofs than he does through fulfilled prophecy.
The Bible is chock full of fulfilled, historically verifiable
prophecies--some of which lead right up to Jesus Christ's
2nd coming. It can't just be coincidence that half
of Jesus Christ's description of "this gospel of the kingdom"
mentioned in Matthew 24:14 was the Matthew 24 prophecy of
his 2nd coming. Jesus himself said "this gospel
of the kingdom" would be preached to a very wide audience--the
entire world! And then the end [of this age
of Satan and man] would come. The "gospel" we evangelical
Christians try to reach the world with--the gospel of Christ--is
not geared for this worldwide audience all by itself. Jesus
in his Matthew 24-25 discourse clearly shows that "this gospel
of the kingdom" must be geared to this worldwide audience
by containing 1) a physical/prophetic description of His 2nd
coming along with the world events leading up to it, and 2)
a description of the gospel of Christ--what it means to be
a Christian--Matthew 25.
As I pointed out earlier, Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong's version
of the gospel was shallow, only half there, for it only contained
the Matthew 24 part. Modern evangelical Christianity's version
is incomprehensible to the wide world's unconverted masses
because it is aimed at Christians--and as Paul states in I
Corinthians 2:9-12, unconverted mankind is incapable of understanding
"the things of God", which the gospel of Christ most certainly
Look at it this way: The Matthew 24 section of "this gospel
of the kingdom" is the outer wrapper--it is the outer wrapper
or mailer envelope for delivering the gospel of Christ. Mr.
Herbert Armstrong had the mailer envelope
in tact and was faithfully delivering it to the world--the
World Tomorrow/Kingdom of God message and all--but the
mailer was empty of its' intended material--the gospel of
Christ! Mr. Armstrong was way ahead of his
time in understanding and successfully using the delivery
package, the mailer. He was used by Jesus to discover what
that mailer was and to successfully use it, so we could all
see how it worked. That is basically all he
was called to do. The by-product of that effort raised up
a whole Revival of old covenant Christians starting from a
congregation only 19 members strong. This revival ended up
in its heyday with about 150,000 followers, many of whom had
the Holy Spirit dwelling in them, as evidenced by the fruit
of their lives. (So before condemning Mr. Armstrong for the
errors he had, and saying he may not have been a Christian
by our concepts of what makes a Christian, look at the clear
evidence of the Holy Spirit--and that well over one third
of the Worldwide Church of God followed Mr. Tkach Sr. into
the new covenant, something never heard of in all of Christian
history.) That's how we know that Jesus was indeed using Mr.
Armstrong, even though he offended the daylights out of most
of us evangelical Christians. So Mr. Armstrong was way ahead
of his time as to how to deliver the message, but he lacked
proper understanding of what the inner message was. Christianity
through the apostle Paul's epistles has had this core message
for almost 2,000 years, but has lacked the delivery medium,
the delivery package. "This gospel of the kingdom" is the
outer delivery package and the inner
message combined. Matthew 24 and 25 was a brief synopsis given
by Jesus describing what the end-time gospel message
to the wide world would be comprised of. It is by no means
the entire message, it is a brief description of the message.
By inference Matthew 24 refers to all the 2nd coming/Millennial
kingdom-age prophecies found in both Old ad New Testaments.
By inference Matthew 25 refers to all the gospel of Christ
Scriptures found in Paul's, Peter's and John's epistles in
the New Testament. Mr. Herbert Armstrong had one section right
and mainstream Christianity has had the other for millennia.
Interesting that Jesus would reveal this "combination message
package" at the time of the end of man's age when discerning
people can begin to detect elements of the Matthew 24 scenario
starting to bud forth in earnest. So now we have taken a good
look at what pre-evangelism is and also a good look at the
founder of a Christian Church who was a master at pre-evangelism.
Even if we have a hard time liking him because of his treatment
of the rest of Christianity, we can certainly learn something
valuable from what he knew and how the Lord used him. We would
be extremely short-sighted to not take a good hard look at
both Mr. Armstrong and how he pre-evangelized the world.
Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong's message generated huge interest
amongst the unchurched and unsaved, but he never used this
pre-evangelism message as a lead-in to presenting the
gospel of Christ. Why? Because he sincerely didn't
possess an accurate understanding of what the gospel of Christ
was. When you fully realize what Jesus called him to do, you'll
understand why Jesus never gave him, nor intended him to understand
that knowledge. Will we, who've possessed knowledge of what
this precious gospel of Christ is for almost 2,000 years miss
the opportunity of the millennium by not recognizing what
the mailer package is for? It is for delivering that
precious gospel message Jesus would have us deliver to the
unsaved world. I honestly think, if Jesus resides in us, that
we can put aside our hurt and anger at how Mr. Armstrong treated
the rest of us Christians when we realize what it was that
Jesus was using him to give us. We have to look beyond the
human frailties of the ones Jesus uses to accomplish his will.
Each Christian leader He works through has his own function
and purpose in the Lord. We've been too guilty in the past
of focussing on the leaders the Lord places over us--focussing
on their human frailties--and not what the Lord is doing through
Realize, that almost any properly explained expository study
on second coming/Millennial kingdom-age prophecies can be
good pre-evangelism harvesting tools. The fields are
white for harvest, just like Jesus told us they would be.
Paul said we are Ambassadors for Christ, representing both
Jesus and the Kingdom of God, our heavenly country from above.
Pre-evangelism is one of our key harvesting tools which
the Lord has given us, and this tool is mostly unused in the
very parts of the world where it could prove most effective,
in the technological, knowledge rich nations of the world.
The Lord used Mr. Armstrong to give us a superb example of
how to use the tool. He also inspired Fred Hereen to describe
the tool for us.