Help me decide (by deciding with me) that the evangelism question is one we ought to have in a big way. Groups that focus inwardly mostly lose their cultural relevance. Christians who turn inward only (or mostly) disobey the boss.
Remember when vision, mission and purpose statements were the rage? You could not go into a business without spending endless hours of hand-wringing over why you were in the hamburger business (Burgers for All: Our purpose is to advance the cause of world peace by clogging arteries and thus reducing blood flow to the War Department of the brain. Or something like that).
I am told now that such statements are pretty much passe. In business, however, you need to be able to tell your clients where you are going.
Jesus tells us from the very beginning where he is going. He begins from the beginning to preach the sermon, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” Jesus knows the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand because He brings the Kingdom of Heaven in His own body. He is the Great Soul.
Jesus teaches a salvation message of change by choice. God enables repentance; humans act on God’s enabling power. This is a decidedly, exclusively, uniquely Christian message. If Jesus is as God as we think, we ought to look at what He says and follow Jesus through the gospels to do Christian evangelism.
I am willing to go out on a limb here (I like trees) and offer my (correct) opinion about the real struggle most of us have with evangelism (other than the knee buckling fear of asking another human being to totally change their life) that keeps us from saying the name of Jesus in a saving way. Here it is, friend, put it in bold letters. We struggle with evangelism because the models of the last fifty years or so have majored on the propositional to the detriment of the incarnational. That is, we teach people to memorize the five propositions of the faith, get some verses to go with them and make them into an acronym. We package this well. You can buy it in a box for a couple of hundred dollars at the book store. These models work for about two years until everyone on your prospect list hears the presentation two or three times. Then you need another one.
Ask yourself, “Can people accept our propositions, pray our prayer and get just about nothing out of it? Are we convincing people who do not know what the life costs them that they have had an experience with grace that may not really occur?”
We cannot offer that kind of thought without offering something to stand in the place of the modern model. So here it is and this is free until I put it in a book and get big bucks for it.
An evangelist is just a disciple-making disciple. To make disciples, who might become converts (read the Paul-Timothy relationship. Timothy is a learner-disciple for awhile before he converts to the Christian faith) we can:
*Live like we ought to live;
*Strengthen the love relationship between us and God;
*Invite people to walk with us, talk with us, eat with us (Jesus is always eating with people) and even join our ministry so that they see what a ministry looks like.
Face the fact that people do not know the Scripture now. Give the church language and you get it filtered through a relativistic, Kantian epistemology that makes God whatever we need God to be right now (the modern form of idolatry). Ask someone to recieve Christ and they will most likely do what the polytheists do when we ask them to come to Christ. That is, they add the Christ to the list of gods they already like.
Christianity is exclusive. Get over it. Christians don’t have Jesus set among three or three hundred other minor, regional deities. He is not one of those specialist gods who helps with (pick one) Employment, Fertility, Wayward Somebodies and Bad Checks. We can talk to God about anything but, guys, really, we need to catch on to the certainty that Jesus is a particular person who says, “Come with me.”
Christians follow Jesus. Christians help others follow Jesus. We get in line behind Jesus. We can just ask others to follow Him with us. That is at least a bit of what it means to be a disciple-making disciple.