In my last post I received a comment asking for an explanation of how the gospel can be preached. I decided, instead of answering the comment with a comment, I would make the answer into a post.
The Gospel in its broadest sense includes all the truth of the Bible. The gospel centers on the kingdom of God, and that includes everything about that kingdom: the coming return of Jesus Christ to establish the kingdom of God on earth, salvation through Jesus Christ which enables us to enter that kingdom, all the laws that will be kept in that kingdom (basically the whole instruction in the Bible about God's law and way of life), all the prophecies about the kingdom, all the history of what God has done to prepare for that kingdom, and everything about the King of that kingdom, Jesus Christ. It also includes the warnings about the great tribulation and the day of the Lord, which is part of the preparation for that kingdom. That is why I say, the whole Bible.
But some parts of the gospel need to be emphasized to prepare the world and our Israelite nations for what is shortly to come. So the Ezekiel warning is important, to let people know that there is a punishment coming upon our nations for our sins if they don't repent. They need to know why the punishment is coming, what their sins are, and how they need to repent. So we need to teach the main elements of the law of God so they know how to repent. This is important so that when the tribulation comes, the people will remember that God was fair to warn them but they ignored the warning. This will make it easier for them to accept responsibility for their actions, instead of blaming God and saying, "No one warned me, so it's not my fault".
It is also important that we emphasize the good news that Christ is coming to save the world and end the suffering and establish the kingdom of God over the earth, which will bring peace and happiness to mankind. This is important so that the people have hope during the tribulation, that their suffering will not be forever but that they will be rescued.
The truths that Jesus Christ paid for our sins so we can be forgiven are important, but do not need to be emphasized because most people already know about this. We can teach that to establish common ground, if that helps our message. But we need to place great emphasis on the parts of the gospel people do not know about.
I think the best ways to preach the gospel, including the Ezekiel warning, is a combination of old and new. We should keep the old "tried and true" methods of radio or TV broadcasting, magazine and booklet publishing, public lectures, and the Internet. The Internet is somewhat new, but broadcasting, publishing, and public meetings are as old as the beginning of the Radio Church of God around the beginning of 1934. God used Mr. Armstrong to build this church through radio, TV, magazines, booklets, and public meetings, and those methods still work very well.
But also we should be looking for new methods. TV only reaches a limited number of people, those who are willing to watch religious programs, maybe less than half the country. And it is TV that seems to drive the magazine subscriptions list, which drives the public meetings.
The Internet has potential here, especially if we harness the manpower of the membership. There is a potential to reach even a non-religious audience, if we handle it right. There may be other new ways that will work. This is an opportunity for creativity, imagination, and resourcefulness, not just for new opportunities to use the Internet, but even new ways to preach the gospel period, whether they use the Internet or not. Resourcefulness is one of the seven laws of success Mr. Armstrong talked about in his booklet.
All this takes money. Even new methods will need money. Using the volunteer labor of Church members is fine and can help make Internet work more effective, but the labor without the money won't get the job done. I am of the opinion that any fellowship worth its salt will be spending 35-45% or more of its income on preaching the gospel and the Ezekiel warning to the public.
And members should be sacrificing zealously to support the preaching of the gospel, including contributing to a fellowship that is spending money effectively in preaching the gospel when that is possible.
I think that is the way God wants it. He wants the preaching of the gospel to be money-driven at this time, to a degree, because it tests the love of the brethren for their neighbors by their willingness to sacrifice financially. It also tests the faithfulness of the ministry by their willingness to sacrifice some of their salaries, or potential salaries, by devoting close to half of their tithe income to preaching the gospel, leaving less for their salaries.
We should set a right example, of course, and that is part of being a Christian. But we should do this at the same time as we are preaching the gospel to the world by every practical means possible, including the methods I have mentioned, because preaching the gospel is part of setting a good example.
We should preach the gospel at the same time as we strive to obey God in all other ways also. And part of our motive for overcoming our sins and obeying God's law should be to empower the gospel. The more we obey God, the more He can help us and answer our prayers, and the more God helps us and answers our prayers for the success of our efforts to preach the gospel, the more we will be successful in preaching the gospel and the more people we will reach. God can help us in many ways - by motivating co-workers and donors to contribute money, by opening doors, by inspiring those who write the articles and messages to write effectively and persuasively, by putting it into the hearts of people to respond, etc. We need His help, and the more we believe, trust, fear, and obey Him, the more He can help us.
So part of our motivation for obeying God should be our love for our neighbors. We should love our neighbors and want to get the gospel message to them, so we should want to obey God so He helps us with the gospel.
Helping others was one of Christ's motives for obeying the Father, or for "sanctifying" Himself in other words. In praying to the Father, Jesus said, "And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth" (John 17:19). Jesus said for "their" sakes (for the sake of His disciples) He sanctified Himself.
But there is no Bible justification for postponing our efforts to preach the gospel because we are not yet close enough to God or because we have sins we yet need to overcome. We must do both at the same time. One helps the other. To do one without the other is like trying to walk on one leg (without crutches). It doesn't work very well. We need both legs to walk effectively, and to run. Likewise, we need to preach the gospel and draw closer to God together, both at the same time, or we will not do either very effectively.
There are several ways a small group or scattered members of the Church can support the preaching of the gospel with their tithes and offerings. One of the simplest ways is to contribute their tithes and offerings to a group that has an established program for preaching the gospel. I think Living Church of God is doing the best job in that department. If one can attend a Living Church of God congregation, that is the best way. A scattered member who must stay home can also send his tithes and offerings to such a group for the support of the gospel. For members who attend small groups or fellowships that do not preach the gospel, they can contribute a part of their tithes and offerings, perhaps 30-50%, to a group such as Living Church of God, and send the rest to the fellowship they attend.
If a small group wants to preach the gospel directly, if it does not have the resources (financial and organizational) to do a TV program and publish a magazine, the simplest way is to set up a website for the public. The ministers, or qualified members, should write articles for the public on the important parts of the gospel I mentioned in the beginning of this post - the law of God, the sins of the nations, the coming punishments of the great tribulation and the day of the Lord, their need to repent, and the good news that Jesus Christ will return to save mankind and bring peace and happiness to the earth.
Those articles can then be published on the website. There should be an email address in the website people can use to respond, to ask questions, and to ask to be able to attend services.
To bring people to the websites is where money comes in. You have to advertise. There is no other effective way, right now, that I know of. And this is how God tests our hearts - with our wallets. Other things can supplement the advertising - members talking about the site on the Internet, for example - but those things are not enough by themselves.
The simplest way to advertise is with pay-per-click ads. Google can help you get started with their pay-per-click system, which they call "Adwords". It is fairly easy. You set up an account with Google Adwords. You write small ads. You schedule the ads to run based on certain key words or phrases, such as "prophecy" or "Bible prophecy" or "end times". You can schedule your ads to run only certain times of the day or week, and you can schedule them to run only in a certain area - so if your group only meets in Boston, and you want prospective members to be in that area so you can pastor them, just set up your advertising to only run in the Boston area. The ads then point to the articles in your website. When you set up the Adwords account, you give Google the number of a debit or credit card. Google deducts the cost of the advertising from your card. You can set limits on how much you can spend, for example, $500 (check with Google on how this works exactly - it might go a little over).
The way it works is this. When someone searches on a keyword you specify, such as "prophecy", your ad may appear in the search listing. Your ad might say, "New article on the United States in prophecy explains what is just ahead". If the person clicks on that ad, they are transferred to your article in your website, and you pay a fee for the click, maybe 50 cents, maybe 70 cents - it varies.
Like anything, you learn with experience.
So you need someone to write articles. You need someone to edit articles. You need someone to set up the website and the articles in the website and some money for this (websites are not expensive - you can have a site for maybe two or three hundred dollars a year, but it varies by hosting service). Then you need someone to write the ads and operate the Google Adwords site to run the ads, and you need money to finance the ads.
This isn't too difficult if you are willing to pay the price.
Or, much simpler I think, is to contribute to a group like Living Church of God that already has the expertise and the programs in place.