18 March 2005

Model for evangelism?

I'd like to propose that it's possible to have a shared model of evangelism no matter what your opinion on the question of Christian exclusivism. I think maybe the key is pointed to by St. Francis' oft-quoted quip: "Preach the Gospel without ceasing; when necessary, use words."

To "conservatives", this might be a reminder that no matter how pressing the evangelism imperative seems, no matter how firmly I'm convinced that anyone I don't personally reach for Christ is in grave eternal danger, the most effective evangelism is most likely the "gentle", action-oriented evangelism exemplified by Mother Theresa. Especially in this post-Christendom age, folks are much more likely to be reached by seeing the Kingdom of God in our as-Christlike-as-possible servanthood than by folks handing out tracts and quoting Bible verses that have no cultural resonance any more.

"Progressives", on the other hand, tend to love this quote, but sometimes might miss the fact that it states that sometimes it is necessary to use words! It's OK to tell the Good News, if folks seem interested. I think it's a *wonderful* thing if, through being served by Christians, Hindus become better Hindus and Muslims become better Muslims, etc. But here's a news flash: a large majority in Europe, a probable majority in North America, and a significant minority in other parts of the world aren't practicing Hindus, Muslims, Christians, etc. A lot of folks either haven't made a heart commitment to respond to God's invitation to a life of faith, compassion, and service, or have made that commitment but don't have the foggiest idea how to live out that life in their cultural context. A lot of people are really struggling and, dare I say it, "lost".

I think the church can offer a lot to a great many folks in this position. In fact, I think we're onto something really, really good here, this Jesus thing, this Kingdom of God whoozawhatsit. :-) I don't think it really matters whether we believe folks are going to hell if they don't hear about Jesus; why wouldn't we share what we've got? Heck, I'm always trying to sell folks on the wonders of my Treo smartphone and the joy of renting videos from Netflix, and as cool as those things are, Jesus is way cooler. :-) Of course, being obnoxious doesn't do anyone any good, but that doesn't mean that it's never necessary to use words.

I'm sure there are folks on both ends of the spectrum who couldn't live within a common model of evangelism. No doubt there are exclusivists who are so concerned about folks' eternal destiny that if they stopped short of "in your face" evangelism they wouldn't be able to live with themselves. It's important for those who disagree with this position to realize that it is compassion that motivates folks who feel this way. No doubt there are progressives who are so totally turned off by the way evangelism is normally done in our culture that they will never, ever speak about their faith or be otherwise overt about it in a non-church setting, and wouldn't be comfortable serving with folks who are open about their faith. That's OK.

But I think it would be interesting to keep this conversation going (as it is on my church's mission and evangelism e-mail group) and keep it as inclusive as possible, and maybe if there are folks who feel either of those ways, they can contribute to the evolving consensus anyway in hope that we end up with something they can sign on to. And in all likelihood it's silly to talk about "one" model of evangelism--what's the matter with having several? But a friend of mine proposed trying to come up with something of a "mission statement for mission and evangelism at Holy Comforter", and I think this is fun and interesting. :-)

1 comment:

Pastor Troy D. Bohn said...

HELP! That is the best way that I can say it right now concerning what is about to happen here in New Orleans.

Undoubtedly, the whole nation’s attention was upon New Orleans and the whole Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the devastation that followed when our levee system failed and we found New Orleans 80% under water!

Well, the attention that we were getting has decreased and the type of attention that is being paid to the city now is not the attention that will truly have the biggest long term impact.

While the Mayor, the Governor, the President, FEMA, the Army Corp of Engineers and a plethora of other private and governmental agencies argue and debate on the rebuilding of a city—the Church needs to instead be focusing on the unprecedented Harvest and Revival opportunity that this has presented the Gulf Coast and this Nation.

HELP! Is how one could simply break down the vision that Paul received when his brother needed him to come to Macedonia at a pivotal time for that region.

Acts 16:9-10 says, “And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, Come over to Macedonia and help us. Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.”

When we began our work full time here in New Orleans in 2003, the Holy Spirit spoke to us that (He) “was sending REVIVAL upon the Gulf Coast of the USA and that we needed to network with the Body of Christ in preparation for this time” Luke 5:1-7

In a couple of months, February 24-28, 2006, RAVEN Ministries will be hosting their 10th annual Mardi Gras Outreach in New Orleans. This is a gathering of believers from all over the country who come to share the LIVING WORD with a DYING WORLD.

In the months since Katrina we have personally seen approximately 400 people come to the Lord Jesus Christ in the French Quarter and on Bourbon Street. The “harvest is ready to be harvested but the labors are too few.”

Please come and help us! You can get more information and contact us through our website at www.BigGrace.com and then click on the Mardi Gras Outreach button or you can email me, Pastor Troy D. Bohn, at ravenmail@cox.net or call me at our offices anytime at 504-304-6535

We NEED you here with us for this time. THIS is where we can break the back of the devil over this city and see revival spread throughout this nation—but we need your help to do it.