Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Is Evangelism a dying art?

Evangelism as a dying art?

I don't think evangelism is dead, just the old ways we've been doing it. Once we get past the erroneous idea that evangelism is a program that we and/or our local church does then we can start making some real progress. No matter what approach we are using, if it is not real then it won't be truly successful.

I think, for the most part, that evangelism has become a program that pastors and church people are uncomfortable with. Most people just don't like throwing out the sales pitch, then clinching the deal with a sinner's prayer. This is not what evangelism is or was ever meant to be. Evangelism should flow out of one's personal relationship with the living God. It's not about four laws, or the ABC's of salvation. It's about me sharing a real, personal relationship and experience with other people who are hurting and or experiencing turmoil and hardship in their lives.

I think the days of vocational pastoral leadership are over. It has gotten to the point where many clergy see their calling as their job, so they tackle their pastorate from a professional point of view. Many are gifted and trained in the area of administration and teaching, a few are gifted evangelists. Many, at least the pastors I have met and talked to, see evangelism as another program on their menu of church activities. Most pastors have no problem with talking about the gospel, one on one, on a personal level over coffee. But organizing a regular program of evangelism is a major struggle because for years evangelism has been an unnatural thing that we do in church.

Pastors and church planters of today need to be missionaries, training their congregation to live and think like missionaries in their own neighborhoods and circles of relationships. Real, Biblical evangelism takes place almost naturally as we live out our faith daily in the communities where we live.

As a pastor/church planter/missionary this means sending my children to the local public elementary school, which gives me immediate access to 90% of the families who live in my community. Also, allowing my children to particpate in community activities like scouting and sporting activities such as Little League baseball, etc. and then getting involved in these organizations as volunteers. How can my family and I get to know other families in our community if we keep to ourselves and send our kids miles away to the nearest Christian school? Through the public school and community organizations we are involved with, we have been able to meet many families that we have more than a few things in common with. We have been able to start building friendships, and our neighbors (especially the kids my two boys have befriended) are responding as they share their lives with us.

Evangelism isn't a dying art. However, like most forms of art, the art of evangelism needs to be reshaped from time to time. For me, it merely means being who God re-created me to be in the community He has place me in.

How about you?