Sunday, December 18, 2011

No Committee Needed

Evangelism needs no committee. That may come as a shock to people. We are so used to getting a group of “dedicated” or “requested” folks together when something around the congregation needs done. Why do I say evangelism needs no committee? If we think about it, many of the programs out there are reactions to our culture. If we wanted to go right to the heart thirty years ago, the Kennedy method provided the questions for us and how we would respond based on someone’s answers. Questions: Where do you think you’ll go if you die tonight? Response: Hmmm. Who cares? Questioner (pondering) Oops. Didn’t expect that one. Then we made things conversational in the 80’s and 90’s and trained ourselves to coat the same question with a conversational approach and called it Dialogue Evangelism. My temptation was to get caught up in the conversation and, oops, miss that outline point by point where I could invite the man at the door to my church. For every incarnation of an evangelism method, a training module had to follow. That’s okay if the pastor or leader revs the troopps for hitting the streets in a good or bad neighborhood with the clear and simple message of Christ crucified. I can still remember my class at the seminary where we did this very thing. Great! And, what did we have for lunch? Cold turkey. Coincidence? I think not. Now, I’m not downing every mass-organized effort to canvass the neighborhood. I’m not trashing the idea of having a few set responses in your hip pocket you have learned to use when speaking the Gospel on the city bus. For every program, more questions and inadequacies fill people’s minds. Folks wonder if they’ve got the step by step guide in mind for presenting themselves and their witness of the gospel correctly. Others nod and say, “Its just not my gift.” After all, listeners to Christian radio hear all the time about certain people who consider themselves trained or called evangelists. In truth, our Lord has made us all evangelists, in the wide sense of the word. How? Through the lips of His called and ordained servants of the Word, He preaches His Law and Gospel to us. Hmmm. Faith comes by hearing the Word. (Rom. 10:17) Beautirful are feet of those who bring good news to us. And, yet, we who hear the same message rightly preached and taught to us are on equal footing as far as hearing the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ alone. The other thing that sets us Christians on equal footing is our Baptism in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. (Matt. 28:19-20) That means Christ has marked us with the same cross, same salvation, adopting us into His same kingdom and part of the same body. (Eph. 4:4-6) Sure, we may have some experience to share with an unbeliever. But, we don’t have to worry about scaring ourselves stiff telling it. Why? We don’t proclaim ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord. (2 Cor. 4:4-5) He who made light shine out of darkness has shined the same light on our hearts. (2 Cor. 4:6) And, to borrow Issues Etc.’s counter to Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life…”It’s not about you. It’s about Jesus for you.” So, when talking to someone concerning our Lord Jesus, we aren’t the hero and we’re not trying to play the part of hero. Now, granted, some of us may be more ambitious, articulate, or active than others. That’s why there are a ton of ways for evangelism. Notice I didn’t say “doing’ evangelism. Yes, it’s a good work, but not of us. It’s a good work because Christ works through us and He’s the one who converts, rebukes and encourages to the finish. (Phil. 1:6) So, if there’s no evangelism committee or board at your church, how are you going to get it done? I’ve already mentioned, you aren’t. Christ Jesus works through our hands and feet and lips and any other part of our bodies and brains. Most visibly but not most obvious is our daily vocations. He can put an opportunity, spur of the moment, for teacher or a nurse or dog scooper to converse. It’s on-the-job telling, and I mean plainly of Jesus. A Christian witness can begin by Teboing in public or grabbing the mic to “thank God for a great pass”. But, that’s just the start. Rather, real witnessing happens only when the name of Jesus Christ crucified is on our lips. Our vocations give rise to another good area—apologetics. No, it’s not saying “I’m sorry” for being a Christian. It’s removing those barriers folks have to believing. Want more info on that, check out New Reformation Press’s website——lot of good resources there. An avenue for evangelism is human care. That’s sometimes intentional like setting up a soup kitchen or outreach center. It could be spontaneous like when giving a homeless visitor to your church a gift card to buy food. These times may spawn opportunities to present Christ crucified amid showing genuine concern for people’s well-being. If you still want a way in which your congregation can do an organized and up front evangelism, try the internet. Post Bible study outlines. Get your pastor’s sermons onto podcasts. Find links to teaching opportunities through your church’s webpage. You could also follow up with visitors if they leave their name on the church’s guest registry. Maybe, your elders or social ministries boards already do this. Perhaps, folks you know follow-up with visitors in a less formal way, like that random encounter of the caffeinated kind at Starbucks. Ask how they are doing and say it was great seeing them worshipping with you on Sunday. In short, evangelism isn’t limited to a group of people better trained than others. It doesn’t have to have a line item in the congregational budget. And evangelism doesn’t have to be calculated and coordinated to make the effort count. Remember that in discussing the sheep and goats, the sheep don’t even rmember what they’ve done. (Matt. 25:35-40) Evangelism in its form and meaning is Gospeling—telling the good tiedings of great joy—Jesus born, crucified, risen, ascended, and coming for us.

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