I believe that one of the most beneficial changes any church could make is to correct their misunderstanding of evangelism. We’ve made such a monster of it in our minds that very few of us do any of it at all. We count on having user-friendly churches with seeker-sensitive assemblies featuring a great preacher, state-of-the-art equipment and methods. We rely on doing Bible classes and assemblies so well that when people visit us to do their church shopping, we hope they’ll choose us instead of that other church down the road. There are three things wrong with that.
· First, it’s not evangelism it’s accumulation.
· Secondly, people who have to be won by attractive methods and surface cosmetics will only last as long as those remain valid.
· Third, it is a focus and emphasis unknown by Jesus, the apostles and the early church.
The church that won the Roman Empire knew nothing of “user-friendly” or “seeker-sensitive churches or spectacular methods of reaching the unconverted. Mark Galli writes,
What it did have seems paltry: unspectacular people, with a hodgepodge of methods (so hodgepodge they can hardly be called “methods”), and rarely a gathering of more than a handful of people. The paltry seems to have been enough, however, to make an emperor or two stop and take notice (Christian History, Issue 57, p. 8).
Without publicized campaigns or even an explicit evangelistic strategy, Christianity made its way quietly and effectively in an environment not wholly unlike that in the post-Christian West today.
Glenn Hinson writes, “Most churches had the same goal: evangelism.” But it was not evangelism based on getting people into church buildings since it was nearly 300 years before the first one was built. This was evangelism by friendship. It was outreach through good works such as feeding the hungry and rescuing abandoned children (1 Peter 2:12). It was the message of a moral and pure way of life (1 Peter 3:2). It was seen in their keen pursuit of justice. Each disciple was ready to tell their friends and associates the reason for their hope (1 Peter 3:15).
Evangelism is the life-blood of any congregation of the church. Only if it becomes our goal, we will truly become alive.
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Take this from a person who has made their share of writing boo-boos. I rarely have a perfect first draft of anything I write. I have learned (painfully) to carefully go over what I write and almost invariably discover something that would be embarrassing to publish. This is especially critical when writing advertising copy destined be read by great multitudes.
Today I came across this example:
“Over time, this can add to unwanted weight gain that you do not want.”
A good, solid edit would have discovered this and restructured it. Unwanted mistakes like this are something you do not want.
Part of an advertisement for a fancy thermostat: “Instant readings are available within 10 seconds.”
My immediate reaction was how can it be both? It is either instant or it is within ten seconds.
Of course, there’s “instant” and then there’s “real quick.” When I was a kid, we used to play outside (those were different times) and, come suppertime or bedtime my mother would say, “Come inside this instant!” “We’re coming!” we’d reply…but we weren’t doing any such thing. We were still playing. We were going to squeeze every bit possible out of the interval between her expectation and our compliance. She wanted instant action; we wanted to delay her desire in favor of ours for as long as we could. It was a delicate balance between what she wanted and what we thought we could get away with.
When my wife (who, incidentally, is a gourmet cook whose culinary creations are not to be missed) tells me “Dinner is ready,” I know she means that I should stop studying, writing, carving or gardening, and wash my hands, a process taking up to five minutes or so. It really means, “Dinner will be ready about the time you have finished getting ready to come to the table.” We have that understanding developed in our nearly fifty years of marriage.
So, I’ll give you all of that but I still don’t understand how something can be “instant” with the possibility of a ten-second delay. Sorry, advertising agency, I can’t let you get away with such a contradictory claim. You might call it nitpicking. You can feel free to express that in the comment section and I will instantly give you my reply sometime.