What Does the Church Think?
So What is the Church’s Stand on Jewish Evangelism Today?
It depends on to whom you are talking. Let‘s take layman John Q Smith, for example. He was born into a Lutheran family, brought for baptism as an infant, went to VBS as a child, then to confirmation class starting at age 11. Following his confirmation, he attends with his family until he heads off to college, where he is contacted by a Lutheran campus pastor and joins up for an occasional meal and service. He does not want to rock the boat, and so he never speaks openly of his faith unless someone asks; and today, no one is really asking. He is back to church for his wedding and again when his firstborn arrives, and so the cycle continues. Yes, he knows someone Jewish through school and business. But never is there a thought that he should, would, or even could speak to that person about eternal damnation due to sin and hope through faith in Jesus. That is the pastor‘s job. They have the training...etc.
Then there is Jane R. Liberal Christian who is focused on social justice. She accepts her church‘s position that there are two covenants, one for the Jewish people, in which salvation is available apart from faith in Christ, and the other for the gentiles, for whom Christ came and offered His life. Thankfully, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) rejects the Two Covenant Theory.
If you are talking to John V. Pastor, you find a serious individual besieged on many sides for his time and attention: Bible studies, new member classes, church meetings, annual preaching schedules, church meetings, special holiday services, baptisms, confirmations, weddings, caring for the infirm, shut-ins and dying, funerals, grief groups, (did I mention church meetings?), divorce groups, counseling, pastoral meetings, circuit, district, and synodical gatherings, LWML, budgets, building new buildings, keeping the school running, family concerns and, to be sure, visiting those who have visited the church in the past week. It is not that they are disinterested in reaching out; it is rather that they are not prepared to struggle to make the time and have little energy to invest in yet another endeavor. Just keeping the day-to-day operations maintained is more than a full-time job.
It is no wonder that, in the past decade, the adult conversion rate for our 6,000+ congregations is less than one adult per church per year! This is a tragedy of immense scale.
A quick review of Romans 9–11 shows Paul‘s passionate plea for the church to include Jewish people in the mission of the church. This runs against the tide of Romans caring at all for the Jews, since they are such a peculiar people: they did not work on the Sabbath and did not serve in the Roman army; their gifts went to the Temple in Jerusalem; their diet was different, holidays foreign, manner of dress strange; and they worshiped only one God. Secular anti-Jewish attitudes prevailed in the culture. Even so, Paul sought to win the Roman hearts to pray for and speak to the urgent need of salvation for the Jewish people. Consider Romans 11:24-26:
After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree! I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved.
Excerpted from A Case for Romans 1:16...Again! by Steve Cohen