How did our Particular Baptist forefathers view and do evangelism? James Renihan fills us in, with the help of some materials from his 1997 doctoral dissertation, “The Practical Ecclesiology of the English Particular Baptists, 1675-1705: The Doctrine of the Church in the Second London Baptist Confession as Implemented in the Subscribing Churches.” (also see Edification & Beauty):
In order to account for the remarkable growth present among the Particular Baptists, one must remember this fact. Evangelism is at the heart of the doctrine of the church. New assemblies are planted as men and women are brought to faith in Christ. In these Confessions, practical theology is the necessary concomitant to ecclesiology. Doctrinal formulations are not merely theoretical constructions. They have very important implications and applications for life and ministry.
Historic Baptist theology brought together theology and practice. In the best puritan fashion, it was recognized that what we believe must influence what we practice, and that what we practice must rest on the theological truths we confess. These men and their churches sought to be faithful to that principle. As we strive to preach the whole counsel of God, and apply the principles of reformation in our churches, we must take hold of this perspective. Church planting ought to be at the very forefront of our agenda. In Particular Baptist Ecclesiology, the church was fundamentally the result of the personal and sovereign activity of Christ in calling sinners out of the world to salvation. From its roots in the New Testament, it was intended to be a holy community, separate from the world and focused on heaven. But, so important was the planting of churches that programs were established to promote their increase. Funds were raised, men were ordained and sent, and new congregations were organized. Does our theology of the church inform our evangelism? What more can we do?