Monday, December 01, 2008

Interesting Vid on Evangelism

Found this on Scott Paeth's blog and it raises some important questions about strategies of evangelism. I wonder if our strategies have become way too important to us. If we are committed to seeing people come into relationship with God, then why does that have to look one specific way? It was suggested to me that the dirty little secret of evangelicalism is that we don't really like to evangelize. By that it was meant that evangelism is an often long and messy process with no guaranteed payoff. Strategies are an easy substitute and almost guarantee that if someone becomes part of your church they will have a lot of the same values you have already formed and intact - they won't rock the boat.


Brodie said...

Frank - I think one of the big things about evangelism strategies is that people are treated as 'means' and mot 'ends'. We need to have genuine friendships with those not yet following Jesus with no other agenda than being that persons friend.

One of Freedom said...

I totally agree Brodie. One of my insights about evangelism (something from my Student Mission Advance days) is that it is more about us than about making converts. That sounds counter-intuitive in the face of how evangelism is usually presented, especially in the more confrontational forms which seem to think there is an urgency to get folks saved. It rarely works that way - and even when those strategies produce converts it is usually not the kind of conversion that stands the test of time (unless you count making more arses for Jesus success). When we open ourselves to others, in a way that is open to being better examples of Christ's love - such as being true friends with no strings attached - then when/if folks do convert they tend to want to be the same for others. But more importantly we grow as people through the experience - becoming more like Christ.

I'm going to post a lengthy quote from Oliver O'Donovan next that challenges existing paradigms of evangelism.

Anonymous said...

Oh it's such a good satire on the typical evangelical church! It's quite amusing.

I never quite get why them evangelicals want to register newcomers and convince them that their pastor is the "one-stop-shop" to the Truth and should bring all their friends.

Funny the Evangelicals are the only religious community that fall under this stereotype :P

One of Freedom said...

I'm not convinced it is the pastor they point to - but it definitely is the tradition. So in a Pentecostal church is it the fact of being a Pentecostal (identity) that is of paramount importance for the adherents. But definitely the evangelical church is quite open to cult of personality - much more than say a traditional denomination like Roman Catholicism. (But they do exist in RC churches too - they just end up sainted later on.)

There is a huge trend towards fundamentalism in all major world religions. Within Christianity this is true in most denominations. I see it a lot more with young men of the Roman Catholic and Anglican traditions. I know Eastern Catholics who have seen this imported through evangelicals converted to their traditions, much to their consternation. The main attribute that distinguishes them is the fostering of a polemic against other traditions/religions and the assertion of a comprehensive claim to "truth". In the 60s the evangelicals tried (varying degrees of success) to shake off the Fundamentalist heritage. But it has been like a huge ugly shadow that keeps overtaking us. As someone who has been fighting hard against that sort of lunacy in my own evangelical world - it pains me to see it in other traditions where it is not native.

I think this video serves a "lest I go that way also" type function for all of us.