A lot of what is dubbed "evangelism" in many churches seems to be marketing that is done by Christians for Christians who are looking for a cooler/better/righter church. This post (ht) points out that billboards that say things like
Pastor Bob invites you to:
Programs for All Ages
Sundays at 11am
"This is not your father’s church!"
communicate well to Christians, but the unchurched will hardly even understand what the billboard means, except for the fact that their fathers probably don’t attend.
He goes on to advocate evangelism methods that we’ve been attempting at Christ Community: throwing parties, attending concerts and other things the unchurched go to, being relationally involved in the lives of those who aren’t Christians… it certainly is a lot slower work than gathering a bunch of disgruntled church-goers, but I think post-Christendom demands it. The post ends with a great quote:
One of the the first steps in effective evangelism is becoming normal again.
Social again. Transparent again. Reaching people may be easier and
scarier than we thought. Easier because we don’t need a budget, a
building, a core team, or a seminary education. Scarier because there is nothing stopping you.
Nathan Bubna says
But staying different too…
I don’t think a lack of normality is actually the problem for a lot of people and churches. I think it’s that we’re too often normal in the wrong areas and different in areas that don’t even matter. We live entirely as part of the culture most of the week (albeit with the word “christian” incongruously in front of the names of our things and activities) and then just try to be different from other christians on Sundays.
The only thing of more value in being “normal” as you describe it is that it means being fully there in the world. But that doesn’t become evangelism unless you’re obviously different. Being in the world changes nothing until people can tell that the way you live in it is truly alien. Makes ’em wonder, “why?”
I think a lot of christians try to be “in the world but not of it” but only end up making their own little clone of the world where everything about *the way* they live is the same, just with “christian” textual content. Makes ’em wonder, “what the f%#@?”
But i know you know that, Ben. I’ve been reading your blog too long to suspect otherwise. 🙂 I just think this post could use mention of the difference.
Ben Sternke says
“we’re too often normal in the wrong areas and different in areas that don’t even matter.”
Great quote, and spot on. Your comment is well-put – remaining different (in the right ways) is essential for Christian witness.
I totally agree with your approach of creating relationship, getting rid of our “churchianity” lingo, and just being real.
However, how do I guard against simply “being nice?” I know a lot of non-christians… they know I’m a Christian… they respect that and know they can call me if they need help… but it almost always stops there.
I realize that is being a witness in and of itself and perhaps that’s all the Spirit wants me to do at this time. However, it’s so easy for me to retreat into the safety of that (being “nice”) instead of sticking my neck out like maybe I should be.
I realize that you can’t really give any specific answers to my rambling… I guess I just need to get on my knees some more.
I’ve found great challenge, encouragement, and inspiration from 2 of John Wimber’s books: 1)Power Healing; and 2) Power Evangelism.
I don’t consider myself an evangelist by any means, but I’ve seen doors open for me through prayer and simple faith that I could not have done or thought of myself. That’s no great revelation there, in one sense; but that’s a big part of it. When we pray for those God is after with faith and be ready to listen and act, stuff will happen.
You need to subscribe to Critique if you haven’t yet. It’s all about engaging culture and how to use Christian discernment. I know I’ve plugged it to you before, but here it is again: http://www.ransomfellowship.org/
It’s actually free, but they do send a donation envelope with every issue. Or, you can just download the PDFs from the website.
Ben Sternke says
Thanks for the recommendation, Kim. I’ll check it out.
I like this post a lot. Not sure if I have anything to add. Um…I’ll give it a shot.
-not your father’s church. ha. we are NOT connected to the past! rugged individualism church. Actually something that’s been on my heart recently is connecting with my parents’ faith. We’re building here, right?
-yeah, I’d rather not have the lukewarm bouncearounds at my church, unless I feel like arguing about nothing before they leave.
-Most of all. Let’s grow by having babies. We’re not going to run out of people. Plenty to go around, plenty to go around.
A lot of people have some church in their history. And everyone’s aware of God. There are so many ways to connect with people. Individuals developing real relationships with people, because they have God’s love for them, not out of guilt, because they like having friends – what is anything without that.