October 22, 2012

Evangelism is not a dirty word.

I was raised in a conservative, evangelical home and the subject of evangelism was something I was familiar with throughout my upbringing. I've been involved in the work of churchplanting, service to the needy and establishing missional communities for well over a decade now but the specific subject of evangelism is something I haven't spent too much time with for a while, until recently.??The subject of evangelism is something I've become a student of again over the last few years.??Working on the practice of evangelism in mainline denominational contexts and in the contexts of more progressive, liberal cities has pushed my categories and definitions, forcing me to rethink a lot. Yet, it has become an increasing interest of mine. A couple weekends ago I did a workshop on evangelism here in DC.??In my preparation for that workshop, I scratched out some things that I thought might be good to share more broadly.??So, I'm going to spend a few blog posts laying out some thoughts on the subject.

"Evangelism" is a term that many folks do not like. Many Christians affiliate the term with fanaticism and spectacle that they are not interested in associating with.??Those that give the term the bad rep' most often are going about the practice of evangelism poorly. As a person familiar with construction work, when someone uses a hammer wrong, you don't avoid them and ward off ever using a hammer again. You don't forever associate the hammer with the poor use of it. Rather, you show the person how to use the hammer correctly.??In the same way, if there is a better way to go about evangelism, we hold fast to the term and commit to encourage a proper practice of it???primarily by practicing it ourselves.

While there are those within the Christian community that do not like the term, there are also those that have an affection for it. But too often, these are folks that either proudly hold up the term but don't practice it or practice it poorly. Like my construction metaphor, it does no one any good if we talk about our affection of a tool that we never use. Outsiders simply come to the conclusion that it has no relevance to their lives.

Let me begin by saying this: I'm interested in changing this. Evangelism isn't for weirdos and theology geeks. It ought to be a totally normal and non-anxious practice for us ordinary Christians of all stripes.

I will begin by "unpacking" what I've mentioned above and then move into more practical matters. I'm hoping the posts will be brief, I want to take my time walking through the subject. So, stay tuned. More to come. But in the meantime, here's some books I'd encourage anyone to read on the subject:

??? Evangelism After??Christendom??by Bryan Stone
??? Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coleman
??? Transforming Evangelism by David Gortner
??? More Ready Than You Realize by Brian McLaren
??? Evangelism in the Early Church by Michael Green
??? All 4 Gospels

What reading would you recommend on the subject?


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