Dan Dick tells the story of a church that hires out its evangelism to an outside agency, which prompts Dan to give some of his typically thought-provoking comments about how we do evangelism.
Historically, evangelism — the “sharing of the good news” — as a spiritual gift (charismata) was a personal and intimate expression of faith. Evangelists told the good news of Jesus the Christ in their own lives. They were first-hand witnesses to the power of Jesus Christ to change lives. Evangelism at its finest happened one-on-one and was grounded in a two-fold personal relationship invitation: invitation to relationship with God and invitation to enter a supportive spiritual community. Evangelism wasn’t preaching, it wasn’t teaching, it wasn’t a stadium crusade, it wasn’t handing out “The Four Spiritual Laws,” (though this is closer than many definitions), and it wasn’t a pathway to institutional growth and support. Evangelism was evangelism — the heart and soul of the Christian movement. It was a positive viral Christianity. In the premodern world, the writers of the gospels were evangelists because they were sharing personal, unique, supposedly eye-witness accounts of their experience of Jesus the Christ.
Steve Manskar has a great comment on Dan’s post that makes an important point as well.
I also have a little quibble with the evantelism you advocate in this post. I did not see anything about proclaiming the good news of the reign of God that is among us now and is coming. The reign of God is the good news Jesus proclaimed and lived. It is also seldom included in discussions about evangelism today. Contemporary evangelism is too often reduced to telling people about Jesus and accepting a personal releatoinship with him. Certainly the person of Jesus is good news for the world. But he did not come proclaiming himself. He proclaimed the good news of the reign of God.
Please go read the full post and the comments.
They remind me today that the entire organizing principle of the church was evangelistic in its origin. The church was and is the body called out from the world to share the good news of Jesus Christ, and that good news is both personal and social.