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Missional Evangelism

June 22, 2010

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if people claim to have faith but have no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2:14-17)

Recently I have received some questions from friends in my church community regarding the topic of evangelism. They have an interest in conversation about what it means to share our faith with others, especially our neighbors (these friends host a great home Bible study group in my neighborhood). Among Christians in my area I’ve noticed that impressions of evangelism have often been shaped (maybe unfortunately) by things like door-to-door evangelism programs, tract distribution, revival meetings, and Christian broadcasting personalities (tv & radio).

I had some experience with all of these evangelistic elements growing up in a evangelical/fundamental Protestant church. And while I know God did some important work in me through those experiences, I still was not drawn to those types of evangelistic methods (nor could I see much fruit born from them). As I contemplated them, each method seemed particularly one-sided: an intellectual acceptance of a narrower gospel that was completely individualistic.

After coming to view the “Good News” as something much deeper and wider (Good News for all creation; restoring all the broken relationships-God/Human, Human/Human, Human/Creation; special thanks to Scot McKnight here), I began to wonder: What does missional evangelism look like? I had a feeling that the answers might lie, not in something totally new, but rather in a recovery of older expressions of relational “lived faith” coupled with hospitality, which might enrich and invigorate our current experience. Helpful in this journey have been works like George Hunter’s book on Celtic Evangelism and Robert Webber’s wonderful Ancient-Future series. But I’m also finding some great ideas from missional bloggers:

What has been your experience with missional forms of evangelism? What does it look like?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 2, 2010 12:41 am

    Thanks Chris for sharing this. Yes, somehow evangelism needs to be a way of life, or just a part of who we are. Christian vocation is surely tied to the mission of God and is to be active or present in all we do. And with an emphasis on community.

    Bob Robinson has some great thoughts on this, and I’m sure all your other references do as well. I really like George Hunter’s book on Celtic evangelism. Need to get into the series you mention from Robert Webber.

  2. July 3, 2010 1:34 am

    Thanks for your comment, Ted. And I appreciate your emphasis on community-that was probably the major piece I found lacking in the evangelism training I had when I was younger. Community seemed to be just an afterthought, not a priority. I too find Bob’s blog to be a really interesting and insightful one (I should visit there more often!).

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