From Tim Keller:

For instance, our typical evangelistic presentations are effective with persons
who assume they should be good. Then the gospel-presenter tries to show them
than they are not good enough they fall short of Gods perfect standards and
therefore they need Jesus to forgive sin and help them do the right thing. This
presentation was quite appropriate for almost everyone in my parents
generation. My parents, who are evangelical Christians, and my in-laws, who are
not at all, had basically the same social and moral values. If you asked them
the questions such as, What do you think about pre-marital sex, or
homosexuality, or pornography? both sets of parents would have answered the
same. They were part of a world in which Christianity was the folk-religion even
if it was not the heart-religion of most people. They believed that the purpose
of life was to be a good person. This world no longer exists everywhere.

On the other hand, if you say to those in my kids generation, You know
you have to be good, they will say, Whos to say what good is? So what are we
to do with these post-everything persons who are increasingly dominating our
society? The traditional gospel presentations will not make much sense to many
of them.



This is a very good point, and one that bears discussion. So where does this leave us? Seemingly, with an ineffective message to a ever growing segment of the world! What are we to do?

The gospel must stay the same, but the message cannot. That is to say, the methods cannot. The one size fits all method of evangelism, and church growth for that matter, must be done with. If you look in the beginning of Acts, it says

v1. The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach,

Many people may say they teach what Jesus taught. That they believe in what the epistles say. But for Christ, His teaching was followed up by His actions. It seems to me that many churches teach what Jesus taught, but do not do what He did. The "post-everything" as Keller calls them, respond to words that are backed up by a life style. This means that this leads us down the road of relational evangelism, no more cold-calling, so to speak. It means living like Christ did, being incarnational, getting involved in peoples lives. Caring for them, weeping with them, laughing with them, being Christ to them. Black, white, asian, strait, homosexual, alcoholics, druggies, multiple tattoos, born in church, or never even seen a church. It means loving them all the same.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Isn't that what we are supposed to be doing all along? If you don't, then it's too easy to get wrapped up in a baptism count or attendance-to-aisles-walked rate that at least a few churches these days are concerned with. If all the body of believers is concerned about is witnessing, converting, baptizing, we not only miss the second half of the Great Commission (teaching them to observe...), we also take the ministerial aspect of being a pastor out. We risk taking the pastor(shepherd) out of the pastor-teacher in Romans 4:11. Also, why does the method in which we witness matter? Is the Holy Spirit, God Himself, limited to how much and when It can prick a person's heart, convicting them of their sin-guilt? I mean I understand not giving a sermon similar to "sinners in the hands of an angry God" not because its point is too harsh but the simple fact that the average attention span for an adult now is 8 seconds, not 3 hours like it was then. I can understand trying to incorporate technology (powerpoint, projectors, television, etc.) to reach more people and help more people understand and grasp the meat in the Bible, but should we believers be so willing to change what we do because the world has turned an increasingly deaf ear? God doesn't change, His message won't either, so why do we, the bearers of that message, need to change? Doesn't the Bible say somewhere that even if we were silent, the rocks and trees themselves would shout and proclaim the glory of God? To me, that says it doesn't matter how we say it, it doesn't matter how it's portrayed, it doesn't matter what technology or lack thereof is involved, God will do what He has to do to get people's attention.

Brian Harrison
Luke said…
Brian, I want to do everything I can to share the gospel with a person. When I look at the church today, and see the state it is in, I can obviously deduce that something is wrong. And it is the current methods that have got us here! Sometimes Jesus used parables, sometimes He harshly rebuked the pharisees, sometimes he spoke metaphorically. But he lived his life and loved people as he was doing those things. I am not saying to completely abandon old methods, but I am saying there is something in the way we have been carrying them out that got us to the place we are in today. And I think that thing is that to many people, including ministers, don't live the life they teach. Is this anything new? No, but in the world we live in, I think it is becoming more and more important.
Robert said…
This means that this leads us down the road of relational evangelism, no more cold-calling, so to speak. It means living like Christ did, being incarnational, getting involved in peoples lives.

It would be challenging, imho, to back this up with clearly didactic portions of scripture.

AFAIK, there are only a handful of clearly Biblical evangelistic methods.

1. Public preaching
2. Telling our family and friends (eg, the guy who had Legion cast out)
3. Living godly lives
4. Treating one another (*within* the church) well
5. Answering questions invited by points 3 and 4.

I'm sure we'll balk at my comment in #4 about treating people _within_ the church well. I am not saying we should not be charitable and kind to those without. But I do not believe that is a Biblically supportable method of evangelism. It's a good thing to do (see Galatians 6:9-10), but I don't see "relational evangelism" anywhere.
Luke said…
Your point in number 5 is what I am saying. (Albeit poorly, upon further thought) If we just live out godly lives, it will affect people in and out of the church. Numbers 3&4 is what seems to not get done. I know it doesn't always in my life. People were drawn to Jesus, and I think by more than just his miracles. I am not suggesting befriending someone just to share the gospel with them. I am saying that if we live our lives like Christ, live our lives through Christ, then people will be drawn to that, opening doors up for not only sharing Christ, but also discipleship.
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