Month: September 2008

Why Evangelism Methods Must Change

Reflecting on the nature of faith in a recent sermon, I pointed out that believing that Jesus died for your sins and rose from the dead is not sufficient for saving faith. Too many people in America believe that they are Christians, that they are “going to heaven” simply because they believe the facts of the gospel. That is not saving faith. Faith is requires more than agreement with the facts of the gospel; it actually treasures a Person, Jesus Christ. Because faith is the result of a process of hearing the gospel, seeing the gospel, and embracing the gospel over time, our evangelism needs to accommodate this reality, as well as nurture true faith, not just mental assent. I was recently asked what I think about Evangelism Explosion (EE) as an evangelistic tool. Although it provides a clear explanation of gospel basics and is very good at training people to parrot biblical answers, it does not do the hard work of contextualizing the gospel. Moreover, I have a few other concerns about EE and evangelism programs in general. In short, our evangelism methods must change if we are to see true, saving, perservering faith emerge. Many evangelism programs are deficient on these counts:

  1. Deficient view of Heaven. Many evangelism programs are focused on “getting people to heaven” not treasuring Christ or living out his mission. Ultimately, we don’t GO to heaven; heaven comes to earth through the already/not fully lordship of Christ. Moreover, going to heaven is not the goal of biblical discipleship. Treasuring, obeying, and sharing Christ is.
  2. Tend toward a mental assent view of Faith. Although many cover some of the gospel basics, they lend themselves to a mental assent understanding of faith. I realize there is a statement in the EE process that denies this. However, the 7, 8 or 9 steps are typically information-centered and mechanically driven. Less open to process evangelism. The Kennedy Questions operate on the assumption that “knowing the right answer” is central, answers that have been conditioned through modern lenses, answers that many Christians can provide without truly “believing.”
  3. They aren’t in the vernacular of most Americans. Most Americans are inoculated to the EE way of “sharing the gospel.” –“If you died tonight and stood before God and he said: “Why should I let you into My Heaven?” what would you say? — Most Americans can answer that question, and many believe it, without a modicum of desire for Jesus. We need a new language for evangelism that is biblically faithful and culturally relevant.

David Brooks on Bailout Plan

David Brooks with a scathing critique of both Democrats and Republicans regarding the failure of theBailout Bill.

And let us recognize above all the 228 who voted no — the authors of this revolt of the nihilists. They showed the world how much they detest their own leaders and the collected expertise of the Treasury and Fed. They did the momentarily popular thing, and if the country slides into a deep recession, they will have the time and leisure to watch public opinion shift against them.

He underscores the foolishness of revolting against this bill given the financial crisis. Markets have continued to tumble under the unnecessarily prolonged economic uncertainty. In the face of wobbly leadership and House nihilsts, Brooks calls for stabilizing authority:

What we need in this situation is authority. Not heavy-handed government regulation, but the steady and powerful hand of some public institutions that can guard against the corrupting influences of sloppy money and then prevent destructive contagions when the credit dries up.

The Congressional plan was nobody’s darling, but it was an effort to assert some authority. It was an effort to alter the psychology of the markets. People don’t trust the banks; the bankers don’t trust each other. It was an effort to address the crisis of authority in Washington. At least it might have stabilized the situation so fundamental reforms of the world’s financial architecture could be undertaken later.

A wise and eloquent word.

Tools for Missional Church

I have started a new page called Tools for Missional Church (see also link above) that organizes practical tools for missional church. The links are a mix of articles and blog posts that have proven useful to others based on feedback and hits. It will take me a while to sort through my blog history, so fresh content will be hitting the page each week for a while. I hope this of some help to fellow missional disciples, planters, and pastors. With you on the missio Dei!