Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Reimagining Evangelism

I’m really enjoying getting stuck into Rick Richaradson’s book on evangelism. It’s another of those books that sits very comfortably alongside many thoughts and ideas I’ve been having about evangelism over the last few years and, as with other books, provides a vocabulary for making evangelism doable for everyone.

The key principle of the book I guess is summed up in the concept of collaboration with God. Jesus only did what he saw the Father already doing (John 5), and we are to follow his pattern. Richardson argues that our focus becomes listening to the Holy Spirit’s direction and leading as he guides us to people in whose lives he is already at work. We then play our part, whatever part that is, at his prompting and leaving the rest to him.

Nothing that I would argue with there. And neither would I argue with his desire to move us away from evangelism as closing a sales deal and reimagining it as a journey. I have long been of the view that everyone can be considered to be on a spiritual journey that is either taking them closer to God or further away.

So collaboration with the Holy Spirit replaces activism as the model, community replaces the individual as the vehicle, friendship replaces agenda as the pattern, and story replaces dogma as the context for telling the “good news” that we all long to communicate more effectively.
But maybe one of the most challenging aspects of the book focusses on the big story being good news about the kingdom more than it is good news about the afterlife. So much of our ols-tyle outreach has been focused on asking the question: “If you were to die tonight and stand before God…” But are today’s people interested in the afterlife or are they interested in the present? Making life work now is a more pressing issue than what to do with eternity, no matter how important we think the later should be!

So it’s a good book, one worth reading if you share a passion for rediscovering effective outreach in today’s culture.

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