Monthly Archives: December 2008

The Jesus Method No. 2

What Is the Jesus Method?

basintowel The religious community is getting a bad, but deserved, rap. We are known more for cursing the darkness than lighting a candle.

Evangelicals have been writing books about the “end times” that attempt to scare the wax out people.

They’ve been predicting doom and gloom if a particular political party comes to power.

The lunatic fringe has been harassing abortion clinics and shouting slogans at the homosexual community.

Greedy televangelists “slay in the Spirit” with one hand while grabbing people’s wallets with the other.

Others bang on people’s doors and try to “get a study.”

Some stuff material in doors and letter boxes and call it “outreach.”

Some go to college campuses or other venues to do “street preaching” while holding up signs warning sinners that they’re going to fry in the fires of Hell.

Can you see Jesus, the apostles or early Christians doing any of these things? Well, neither can I.  They were in the streets all right.  They were proclaiming, not haranguing… inviting, not coercing…reasoning, not raving. They were earning the right to be heard by helping people in the name of Jesus. They were rescuing the suffering. They were speaking to people about their hope. They were building relationships with people by going to their weddings, parties and dinners. They were living the gospel while proclaiming it. They were salt and light not fire and brimstone. It was face-to-face, not in-your-face. It was faithfulness without fanfare. It was gentleness and reverence not grandstanding and glory. It was grace and peace, not shock and awe. It was persuasion without pressure. The love of Christ compelled them and the Spirit empowered them.

If there had been media they would have used it. If there had been websites and blogs they would have webbed and blogged. If there had been trains, planes and automobiles, they would have been on and in them. They would have been out in their world, sowing, watering and bringing in God’s increasing harvest. It’s all there…in your New Testament. Read the gospels. Read Acts. The Jesus Method is yours for the reading.

Next time: Are We Ready?

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The Jesus Method

jesus-carrying-manDoing it like Jesus

The church is growing. Souls are being saved, lives are being changed and God is being glorified. The facts speak for themselves. In poverty-stricken, war-torn third world nations, the gospel is being proclaimed and souls are being saved. Praise the Lord! Too bad it isn’t happening in Europe, the United States, Australia and other “first world” nations.

In these areas, it is not so easy to reach people. It requires something different than what we’ve been doing. “Missional” is the new catch-phrase. We are talking about the necessity of “becoming missional” in order to reach modern, well-off, comfortable Americans, Europeans and Australians. I just finished reading a series of articles on being “missional.” One writer proposed the following:

The thesis I would like to propose is that at its most basic level, a missional hermeneutic is concerned primarily with the articulation of questions–questions that we ask of the text–and more importantly, questions that the text may ask of us. A missional hermeneutic should not be characterized primarily by methodology per se–that is, as something akin to, albeit an improvement on–traditional form-, redaction-, or narrative-critical approaches to the Bible. Rather, in my estimation, a viable missional approach to Scripture will involve asking missional questions–fundamentally, questions about purpose–God’s and ours. [1]

Since I understand some “academese,” allow me to interpret. He says, “We Christians should ask ourselves the question, “What does God say we should do?” Then, without getting fouled-up in methods, we should just do what God says.” Simple enough?

I may be guilty of over-simplification but it seems to me that, as the people of God, we would fulfill our mission if we simply learn what Jesus did and do likewise.

The point needs to be made: this is not anything close to complicated or academic. It doesn’t take a theologian trained in missiology to understand what Jesus meant when he said, “Go, preach, make disciples, baptize them and teach them.” Here’s the point: we’re not failing to fulfill the Great Commission because we don’t understand it…we’re failing because we don’t want to do it. It’s hard. It’s uncomfortable. It’s expensive. Can’t we just all “go to church” and get along?

The answer is no. We can’t. Consider all the stuff we’re doing now: hiring preachers (and staff for every imaginable purpose), constructing church buildings, university buildings, schools, hospitals, gymnasiums (a gym by any other name still smells the same), “attending services” (the list goes on). While these may be beneficial on some level, they’re really distractions from the main job Jesus gave us to do. We tend to forget that Jesus and His apostles did none of these things.

Can a hospital, school or gymnasium be used for evangelism? Certainly. But do we really use them for evangelism? I personally know of two instances where the idea of building an expensive, well-appointed gymnasium was sold to the congregation as a means of outreach. As far as I am aware, in neither case has even one conversion resulted from their construction. Who are we kidding?

If we build a gymnasium that has so many rules and regulations that you need a lawyer to schedule its use six months in advance, is that an outreach?

If we build a school that no one can attend unless their parents are wealthy or they get a scholarship or incur life-long debt, is that evangelism?

If we build a hospital that excludes or expels those without adequate insurance or an auto-maker executive’s salary, is that an evangelistic tool?

If we build a building that lost, broken and marginal people feel uncomfortable to enter, is that going to reach the thousands living around it?

So, how’s all that working for us? Let’s take a moment to get honest. Let’s admit that we are doing a lousy job of fulfilling the great commission because we are too busy not fulfilling it.

The Jesus Method means doing what Jesus did. It means doing things as Jesus did them.

Next time: What Is the Jesus Method?


[1] “’Located’ Questions for a Missional Hermeneutic” Accessed November 19, 2008 at http://gocn.org/resources/articles/located-questions-missional-hermeneutic, on the Gospel and Our Culture website.

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