Today is grocery shopping day at our house. My wife and  I went to Meijer’s  to shop ,and then we stopped at Captain D’s for a Lenten fish lunch.

The cashier that waited on us was a young woman in her twenties. She had a hard time getting our order straight. Inwardly, I felt the impatient monster struggling to get out, but I successfully subdued him. I paid her and thanked her for taking our order.

While we were sitting at our table this same woman came by and asked us if everyone was OK. I told her yes and then I handed her 2 unused, wrapped plastic forks. I said to her , "Here you can have these back. They have only been used once." The woman laughed and she said "I wish my husband had a sense of humor like you." She looked at my wife and said "is he always this way?" My wife chuckled and then said " After thirty years of marriage you get used to it" The woman replied, "well I have only been married three years." She gave us a longing look and I said to her, "you have a great day." She replied, "you too."

By now many of you who are reading this are thinking, "what’s up with this guy? I thought this post is about evangelism."

It is, and this story has everything to do with evangelism in the 21st century.

What happened during my lunch at Captain D’s?

  • I met someone I didn’t know
  • I made a human connection with her
  • The woman expressed that there was a problem in her marriage. Her and her husband are at the three year stage where all of sudden the realities of marriage usually become fully known and sometimes it isn’t pretty
  • I treated the woman as a fellow human being and the door was left open for future interaction
  • The woman met a couple who had been married thirty years and survived
  • The woman will remember me as the guy who made the joke about the forks

I am convinced that evangelism in the 21st century is all about meeting people where they are and with love and sincerity attempting to enter into their lives.

As a Christian, it is imperative I walk in the love of Christ in my dealings with all people. I never know when I might be given the opportunity to enter into a person’s life and make the gospel known to them.

When I visit Captain D’s again I will seek out this woman and try to engage her in further conversation.

  • "You told me you have been married for three years?’ Where did you and your husband meet?
  • "Are you from Defiance?" If not, "where are you originally from?"
  • "Do you have children?"

And so the conversation builds. I must always remember that I am at the woman’s place of employment and I must respect her space and work obligation. It would have been much easier to leave a tract on the table, but most likely the tract would have ended up in the trash

When we shop at Meijer’s each Thursday, we seek out the same cashiers. Sometimes we have to wait in a longer line to get the cashier we want. Once again, it is all about making loving, personal contact with people.

Everyone of us have a sphere of influence. Within this sphere are people that you and I can uniquely reach with the gospel. The most ineffective person, as a rule, when it comes to evangelism, is a pastor. The pastor spends most of his time with the saved. He is busy preparing sermons and administrating the Church. We can debate whether or not this is the way it should be, but that is how it is.

The most effective people in reaching others with the gospel  are the people in pew. They work "in the world".  They are around unsaved people all day. Perhaps they have tried all the latest evangelistic gimmicks: cute tracts, wearing a Christian shirt, leaving their bible out on the desk, hanging Christian paraphernalia around their cubicle, objecting when someone swears, etc. All this has gotten them is the "boy they are a religious nut" label. 

Perhaps, it is time to unleash the people in the pew and allow them to be "people in the world but not of the world." We need to burn down the Christian Ghetto. Stop withdrawing from the world.

Once people are let loose to go unto "their world" they are then in a position to involve themselves in the live’s of others. Instead of withdrawing into the four walls of the church, we need to deliberately engage others in the world they live in. This is what I mean when I say we need to become "worldly for Christ."

There are many ways to do this, but the bottom line is that we need to go to where sinners are. Not to preach at them, but to befriend them. Imagine the local Baptist preacher going down to the local tavern and having a beer with the guys. Such scandal, eh? Jesus would be pleased, I am sure.

Join some secular clubs that will put you in contact with people. I am currently getting ready to participate in a surrogate parent program where I will advocate for children in the court system. I saw this as a great opportunity to meet people, help them, and perhaps reach them with the good news of the gospel.

One of the interesting things coming out of the emerging Church movement is the notion of the Third Place. The first place is home. The second place is work. The third place are the places where we congregate as a community.

Some thoughtful emergent’s are starting up businesses with the express purpose of providing places where the community can congregate, and within that context ministry can take place.

I have discussed with my older sons about perhaps starting a music venue in the Defiance area. This would be a place where  aspiring artists could come and perform. They would need to have some form of food and drink available and the place would be open to all who would like to come. My older sons are musicians and this would provide them an excellent venue to interact with those they share a common connection. (music) Once again, it is all about making that first contact with people.  The end purpose is to glorify  God and to bring others into the Kingdom of God.

Methods change. What I have written here is about methods I think will be effective in the 21st century. The message doesn’t change. The good news is still the good news.

The message must be contextualized. It does little good to use methods and language that a postmodern generation does not understand nor will respond to. This requires hard work on our part. We must rethink the process. We must evaluate our methods. We must never forget that our purpose is to see others know  the joy of following after Jesus Christ.

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65 Comments(+Add)

1   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
February 7th, 2008 at 4:51 pm

Bruce,

Common man, you know that is all garbage… the only real effective way is this….

Get real…

iggy

2   Bruce    http://www.gerencser.net
February 7th, 2008 at 5:03 pm

Iggy,

Well………that was me , without the sign. We did use signs with Bible verses on them. I never ranted at people. Stuck to the basics of the gospel message.

I made the front page of the newspaper in the early 90’s. Big photo of me preaching on a street corner on a hot July day. I had tie on :) This is my claim to fame :)

I knew campus street evangelist Jed Smock fairly well. http://www.brojed.org/ I preached at his campus Church in Columbus once.

Jed was a mean, nasty preacher. He would call girls whores if they were dressed skimpily. He was beaten up numerous times. He thought it was for faithfully preaching the gospel. Sorry, he got beat up for being an idiot.

Bruce

3   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
February 7th, 2008 at 5:08 pm

Bruce,

Cindy (the disco queen) called me a marshmellow when I asked them to tell the people how to get saved… Jed just laughed at me…

iggy

4   Tim Reed, Owosso MI    http://churchvoices.com
February 7th, 2008 at 5:08 pm

Bruce,
No way. Brother Jed caused a riot on campus at a college I attended. Weird.

5   Phil Miller    http://veritasfellowship.blogspot.com
February 7th, 2008 at 5:14 pm

Dude! I’ve seen those people here at PSU, as well.

It’s kind of funny, they actually have the guy who preaches here now listed as one of their “hospitality homes”. The funny thing is that that guy converted to Orthodoxy a few years back. He still preaches outside, but now pretty much everyone is condemned except his small group of Orthodox tag-alongs.

6   Bruce    http://www.gerencser.net
February 7th, 2008 at 5:28 pm

Jed lived in Newark Ohio for a number of years. We lived in Newark and the surrounding area for 16 years. I pastored 2 Churches in the area. Jed is the reincarnation of Charles Finney, theology wise. The Smocks believe in sinless perfection. Jed has not sinned in many years.

They have a devoted following. I want to think they are well-intentioned but they seem to do so much damage in Jesus name.

7   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
February 7th, 2008 at 5:41 pm

Bruce,

Like I said, I pressed them to stop preaching and tell people how to get saved and they mocked me…

The best line from Jed I remember was, “Only capitalism is Christian.”

LOL!

8   Chris P.    
February 7th, 2008 at 5:41 pm

“I am convinced that evangelism in the 21st century is all about meeting people where they are and with love and sincerity attempting to enter into their lives. ”

Hmmmm…. I thought it was about Jesus Christ saving poeple through the preaching of the Word which manifests Him, the WORD made flesh, which when correctly presented brings faith, which is accounted to the believing one as righteousness. Then again I might be wrong.

Meanwhile, while you are building your conversational edifice,
the woman might:

die
quit
convert to buddhism etc etc etc.

In which case you left no foundation to build on.
Let the funnyman save her soul.

Matthew 7:21-23 was written for 21st century evangelists.

Hope your hushpuppies were crunchy.

9   Kevin I    
February 7th, 2008 at 6:13 pm

I think using the same cashiers, clerks etc. is a great example of opening doors to learn about new people, and hopefully come to a point where we can start talking about deeper things.

I know there is an errand I run, same place, same time every week, the same guy is always working the register and there is rarely anyone else in the store, I’ve tried to open up more and more dialouge each week. It’s often hard not knowing somones boundries, but sometimes we just need to be up front about that, once I walked in and this guy seemed totally destroyed, I said in as plain terms “Are we at that point where I can ask you if you’re alright yet?” he said “not yet” and I’ve respected that, if I ever see it again, I’ll ask again!

I’ve been reading about people opening buisnesses with the express purpose of providing places to congregate and allowing ministry to happen in the most random of places, that’s my goal if I ever come into money, to open a place where the work may be totally neutral, but the purpose and oppurtunities are to meet regulars and share the gospel.

10   pastorboy    http://www.thedowngrade2007.blogspot.com
February 7th, 2008 at 6:59 pm

Bruce,

This is going to shock you, but I agree with everything that you said here. I do the same thing exactly. The difference is in that I do include gospel proclamation fairly early in the relationship building process- with respect to people who are working, their bosses, etc.

I agree with treating people with respect, I think it is important to engage them where they are. I even believe that acting like a Christian is very important at all times. The life that we live in front of people speaks volumes. But it does not arrest us from making a clear Gospel presentation- with words. That is exactly what Paul was speaking about in Romans when he talks about how will they hear without a preacher- and hearing involves actions, but it also involves words.

I could’t agree more that we need to absolutely, positively get out as Christians. We all need to get in the game and engage the culture in the culture. I have spent time in the local bar (my denomination does not allow me to drink a beer, but I would, happily) with people I play softball and golf with. I hang out in the emergent temple (the local coffee shops lol) I always tip well whenever I go out to eat, even if the service is lousy.

Three weeks ago, I was eating with one of my elders at Applebees. We engaged the waitress in conversation, and, as we bowed to pray for our meal, I asked the waitress if she needed prayer for anything. She asked for prayer for her grandma, who was in the hospital. When my wife and I went back two weeks later, the same waitress came by, and told me that our prayer had been answered. She was praising the Lord as she was thanking us for our concern.

We all should be light and salt any where we can in this world. Our motives should be in all things to glorify God and point people to our Savior. Good article, Bruce.

11   Neil    
February 7th, 2008 at 7:13 pm

One of the unfortunate side-effects of modern American Evangelicalism is the fact that “the church” has become the third place for most people – and this lessens their sphere of influence significantly.

Neil

12   Neil    
February 7th, 2008 at 7:16 pm

Pastorboy,

That’s a good story.

Neil

13   Keith    http://fivepts.blogspot.com
February 7th, 2008 at 9:49 pm

Bruce:
Thanks for posting this. As a Calvinist that believes in evangelism (oxymoron?), I have struggled recently with this “question.”

The church I attend is very adamant about evangelism training, i.e. WOTM and FAITH (Lifeway publishing). I went throught the WOTM training, but wasn’t comfortable with it. Both “systems” basically encourage the door-to-door method–not exclusively, but that seems to be the main thurst. Essentially, you’re encouraged to go to someone’s home or walk up to them on the street and dive right into a conversation about why they are going to hell. I have no problem engaging people, but I feel the door-to-door method is a stretch these days because:
1) I feel like the pretense is somewhat dishonest. I feel like I’m invading someone’s private space in an attempt to get them into nothing more than a theological argument.
2) Most people don’t want you on their property. I’ve been run off several porches. (I don’t answer my own door when people I don’t know come knocking.)
3) I have yet to hear of someone coming to Christ via these methods, at least in our church.

I do similar things as Bruce and Pastorboy–engaging the cashier, waitress, etc. just trying to be a bright spot in their day so to speak.

At work, I have an Ephesians “title page” from a pre-1650 King James Bible hanging on a wall in my office. I can’t tell you how many people have come in and asked: “What is that? A page from the Magna Carta?” When I tell them what it is, most people’s response is usually, “Is it real? That’s over 300 years old!” Some of them say, “Oh” and walk off. For the ones that show some kind of interest, I’ll say something like: “You know what’s really amazing? If you compare that page to the same one in a Bible printed today…there’s virtually no difference,” which usually garners a “you’re kidding?!”…and the conversation begins about how the Bible has survived so many years and attempts to destroy it, etc. Just one way of opening a door. And a lot more fun than being kicked off the porch.

14   Joe C    http://www.joe4gzus.blogspot.com
February 7th, 2008 at 9:59 pm

That’s pretty cool Keith. Good story. Wish I had a 300 yr old Bible Page, lol.

Iggy…that site you linked to…”I Todyaso”….hysterical. Way to be, lol

Joe

15   Bruce    http://www.gerencser.net
February 7th, 2008 at 10:08 pm

Keith,

Years ago, door to door evangelism worked. Same way with bus ministry. We could go out on a Saturday and get dozens of new riders. Now days, what parent in their right mind would trust their child to a stranger with a bus? Times have changed, but the message hasn’t.

One of the frustrations I had in the SBC Church I pastored was their program mentality. What we need is another “program.” I had members who were going to a monthly leaders training program at the Area Missionaries office. They came back with materials and methods from the 1970’s, early 1980’s. Well intentioned? Sure. I never doubt a person’s motive, but pretty much a waste of time.

The key to revitalizing the Church is to get them to quit being inward drawn. Sometimes when I am being blunt I will say “Many Churches are incestuous. They keep in the family”

I think each of us must look for innovative ways where we can get involved with people and impact lives. The opportunities are endless.

For a pastor, maybe he needs to go take a part time job somewhere, not for the money, but because it will put him on contact with people other than Church folk.

Coaching sports teams. Girl Scouts. Boy Scouts. Volunteer in a nursing home. Work with hospice. Volunteer at the jail or prison. Go to fairs and hand out water or free food. Work at an AID’s clinic. Babysit a poor mother’s children for free.

I could go on and on. Be creative. Freely we have received and Freely we give.

This year we decided to budget some money for random acts of kindness. This is money we will use to bless someone else (usually a non-believer) This money can be used in so many different ways. Buying groceries. Leaving a huge tip. Paying someone’s delinquent tax bill.

Our kindness doesn’t need to be towards strangers alone. What about family? Our children?

This is an endless subject. Whatever it takes to get us out of the pew and into the world………

Bruce

16   Bruce    http://www.gerencser.net
February 7th, 2008 at 10:13 pm

Just another note………

Use what God gives you.

We have an 18 yr old daughter with Down Syndrome. We can spot a Down’s child a mile away. If we see one in the store we will usually try to speak with them and their parents. We have a common, natural reference point with them.

Each of us have gifts and talents. I am geek. I talk geek. I talk in my sleep geek (so says my wife) I enjoy being around tech heads.

My wife is a scratch baker and a mother of six children. Her contact points are endless. Babies/Mom’s/Breastfeeding…well you get the picture. Thank God that is HER sphere of influence. :)

Every one of us have something to offer.

Bruce

17   Kent    
February 8th, 2008 at 9:24 am

A missionary we support in Mexico had this to say when he visited a few months back. When he went to Mexico years ago, he was told door to door evangelism might work in the US, it won’t work here in Mexico City. Thousands have gotten save because of their door knocking.

Then fast forwar years later, he comes back to the US for a short furlow. He says he wants to go knock on some doors where he was staying in California, people said, oh that might work in Mexico, but not here in the US. WRONG AGAIN, dozens were saved while he was here knocking on doors.

Also, we have a van ministry in Kansas City area, and 25% of our kids come in from the bus ministry. So, the garbage that those “old” methods don’t work any longer should be thrown out.

18   Phil Miller    http://veritasfellowship.blogspot.com
February 8th, 2008 at 9:56 am

Kent said:

Then fast forwar years later, he comes back to the US for a short furlow. He says he wants to go knock on some doors where he was staying in California, people said, oh that might work in Mexico, but not here in the US. WRONG AGAIN, dozens were saved while he was here knocking on doors.

I guess I would ask how you even know if a person had gotten saved in this case? It seems to me that approaching strangers whether it’s on the street or in their house is just an odd way to evangelism. I always suspect that there’s a rather large percentage of the population that will say “yes” to people just to keep that person from bothering them.

Call me a cynic, but I’ve just been to too many events where hundreds have “gotten saved”, but the long-lasting fruit is almost non-existent. I’ve also heard people who do street evangelism make claim of having huge numbers of people respond, but again I rarely see any fruit.

I won’t go as far to say that it’s all wrong, but I guess I’d rather have a church full of people who lived consistent lives and talked to a couple of friends about Christ a year, rather a church where everyone was a street evangelist.

19   Tim Reed, Owosso MI    http://churchvoices.com
February 8th, 2008 at 10:17 am

Meanwhile, while you are building your conversational edifice,
the woman might:

die
quit
convert to buddhism etc etc etc.

In which case you left no foundation to build on.
Let the funnyman save her soul.

Chris P is more Arminian than anyone I know or have worshiped with.

Its a shame he doesn’t trust in the sovereignty of God more.

20   Brett S    
February 8th, 2008 at 10:20 am

Pastorboy,

I am not trying to be a “smart aleck” by asking this sincere question.

What would your response be if she came back to you in tears because her grandmother had dropped dead in the hospital?

Would this mean that God rejected your prayers?

21   Kent    
February 8th, 2008 at 10:23 am

Phil Said:

“I guess I would ask how you even know if a person had gotten saved in this case”?

We never know “for sure” if anyone is really saved. we may be 99% sure based on their fruit, but only the individual and God know 100%. Also, I’ve seen the fruit of the door knocking in his church the fruit remains. Secondly, I know the missionary, and I know how he presents the gospel, it’s a solid bold presentation. Now I understand your concern with the way the gospel is presented today, I would have the same question based on the mamby pamby way say Rick Warren presents it, if it is presented at all.

22   Phil Miller    http://veritasfellowship.blogspot.com
February 8th, 2008 at 10:29 am

I would have the same question based on the mamby pamby way say Rick Warren presents it, if it is presented at all.

Ummm, OK, but I don’t know what this has to do with Rick Warren at all. Sometimes, I think Rick Warren is to conservative Christians as George W. Bush is to Democrats. If anything is wrong with anything, it’s that person’s fault.

23   Kent    
February 8th, 2008 at 10:56 am

It’s kind of ironic you put RW and GB in there together. RW has been said to have a large impact on GW. And GW has said that there are multiple routes to heaven.

24   Kent    
February 8th, 2008 at 10:57 am

Just to clarify, not to say RW believes there is more than one way to heaven. But the way he presents scripture, it’s know wonder why people who follow him are confused.

25   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
February 8th, 2008 at 11:18 am

You know, I actually really enjoyed reading this post – very well done. I remember a few years ago when we were living in the bush, right on the equator in Kenya, we’d literally go out each day (myself and another young man or two) and visit people in their homes who weren’t Christians… we’d sit, talk, discuss life and so on. Of course, we would clearly (as best as we could) communicate the gospel and who Jesus is and what He represents.

It seemed to be a very effective tool in introducing people to the church and Christ (especially with all the rumors flying around – “If you go to that church, your children will die of a sickness…” – that’s another story).

We did a “crusade” toward the last few weeks in the village centre, but in my view, it was not nearly as effective as the day-to-day.

I disagree with the statement like, “What if that person dies tonight?” Sure, this is possible, no doubt, but relationship / community building is extremely important and can’t be minimized or overlooked.

26   Bruce    http://www.gerencser.net
February 8th, 2008 at 11:35 am

Kent,

All your exceptions do is prove the rule.

My comments about door to door is directed towards those of us in the US.

Kent, go test your theory. In your community………..go knock on a thousand doors, explicitly tell them you are there to preach the gospel to them, and let us know how it worked out. Don’t use any of the slick, manipulative tools and lines to get in the door. Tell them up front. “My name is Kent. I am a Christian and I am here to preach the gospel to you.” (or any variation of this)

I CAN see door to door as t tool to let people know there is a new church in town. It is a low key way to introduce yourself to people. Even then, people don’t like unsolicited sales calls :)

The bus ministry……….your comment shows the method has changed. you used the word VAN instead of bus.

I know of one Church who runs 3 buses every week, because they will never quit doing what God called them to do. 30 kids, 3 buses.They refuse to buy vans because that is an admission of failure.

There are many reasons why bus ministries don’t work today

1.Door to door work is required. People don’t like strangers knocking on their door.

2. People are less trusting of Churches and pastors today. Do you blame them? What parent in their right mind would put their kid on a bus with a stranger?

3. The incentives(bribes) used to get kids to ride the bus no longer work.

4. Questions have been raised as to how many adult converts the bus ministry has produced. I say adult because I am discounting all the manipulative, high pressure Jr Church, Children Church evangelistic tools.

5. Cost

6. Lack of qualified drivers and workers. Churches routinely bend the rules and allow unqualified people to drive.

7. Insurance

If a Church has a bus ministry and it still works, great. I am very pragmatic when it comes to methods. If I thought buses would work in a community where I pastored I would have a fleet of them.

To Chris P,

Your comment does not deserve a response.

Bruce

27   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
February 8th, 2008 at 11:41 am

Chris, P,

Hmmmm…. I thought it was about Jesus Christ saving poeple through the preaching of the Word which manifests Him, the WORD made flesh, which when correctly presented brings faith, which is accounted to the believing one as righteousness. Then again I might be wrong.

Meanwhile, while you are building your conversational edifice,
the woman might:

die
quit
convert to buddhism etc etc etc.

Your man-loving/semi-pelagian doctrine is showing… = )

Better go and get a Ken Silva fix.

iggy

28   Bruce    http://www.gerencser.net
February 8th, 2008 at 11:44 am

Paul C,

Great story.

Of course Kenya and the US are very different, yes. Of course that is my point. Our methods must be adapted to the reality of the culture we live in.

Even in the US the culture is different from one part to another. I had a friend from Boston come and preach at our Church. I took him out on visitation with me. All week we visited people. Often we would stay an hour or more in a home. Remember, we were in the country. Appalachia country. Slow life. Nothing happening life. (A great life BTW)

This drove my friend nuts. He told me a long visit in Boston was 15 minutes. Everyone is in a hurry. I noticed he got fidgety after a short bit. Ready to move on. Perhaps he was tired of cow, pig, crops conversations :)

We must know our culture before we can effectively reach our culture.

To quote a famous theologian “Different strokes for different folks :)

Bruce

29   Chris P.    
February 8th, 2008 at 2:30 pm

All I am doing is showing the flaws in your method, which by the way are totally man-centered.
Your friendship saves people??
Your wretched attempts at humor are actually laughable.
My comment shows that I affirm God’s complete sovereignty.
He saves You don’t.
Who cares if your funny or not, or whether you have been married 100 years? Is this the Gospel? Talk about reductionist. You have emptied it of its content entirely.

Bruce, you are a disappointment. I despise holier than thou pious blether.

30   inquisitor    
February 8th, 2008 at 7:53 pm

Pastor boy,
It’s great that you prayed for the grandmother and that the grandmother was healed. I used to go through Mexico and pray for sick and poor people all the time. However, I didn’t share the gospel with them. Many of them have gone on into eternity. If they ever heard the gospel, it wasn’t from me. I hope and pray that someone else had what I didn’t. (the guts to speak out and share the gospel)

My question is this. The healing of her grandmother aside, did she ever hear the best news ever??? This grandmother will die someday, this waitress will die as well. But will she die having heard the gospel? That is the most important question.

Brett,

You bring up a good point. What if the grandmother dies? Then what?

This is why we MUST tell the waitress the “REAL” good news. Not the news that God is able to heal her grandmother if he so chooses, but that God is able to save her, and even save the grandmother from an even deadlier disease. SIN.

31   Bruce    http://www.gerencser.net
February 8th, 2008 at 8:18 pm

Inquisitor,

Time to put up or shut up (in Jesus name of course)

Why are you commenting here? Son, souls are dying. Hell is real. Judgment is soon. Why waste your time here.

Quit your job. Sell your car. Spend every waking minute telling people the complete, full gospel message.

Why are you using a computer? You can’t verbally tell anyone the gospel while using the computer.

Here is a special message just for you:

http://rethinkingchurchlife.org/amessagefromjesus.html

And all of us are when we take on this pious notion that somehow unless we verbalize the message we are missing the mark.

This reminds me of the foolish notion I have seen on signs in many a Baptist Church……….

Why should anyone hear the gospel twice before everyone has heard it once.

I will grant you this…….we all could do better.

ARRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG :)

32   Bruce    http://www.gerencser.net
February 8th, 2008 at 8:42 pm

I probably came off a bit irritated in the previous comment. I plead guilty.

I am weary of this kind of thinking. It like I can’t enjoy a pizza because souls are dying somewhere and they need to hear the gospel.

I wonder what the percentage is of people in the US who have heard the gospel once? In Church? Read a tract.? Read a Bible? Watched the Jesus movie? Heard/watched Billy Graham?

Certainly there are millions who have not, but perhaps a majority who have? If everyone who has heard it once told someone else, hey we have done our job. Bartenders, beers for everyone, on me!

Of course this is going to raise the issue of “yeah but did they really hear the real (my interpretation of what it is) gospel?”

But then………..I was raised in Church and heard the gospel preached several thousand times before I was converted. (we went to Churches…..1 sermon, 4 thousand titles)Every week the gospel was preached. Every week the altar call was given. 15 years passed……….before I came to know Jesus.

We have this silly notion in America that the reason people don’t get saved is because they lack information. They just need to hear.

I think we have got it backwards. What people need is to SEE and until they SEE Jesus in us we are wasting our breath trying to tell them anything.

Bruce

33   merry    
February 8th, 2008 at 9:07 pm

“Without love I am nothing but a clashing cymbol . . .”

I think it’s a combination of verbalizing the gospel and showing love in our actions (Speak the truth in love . . .)

Forcing the gospel on someone without love won’t work. On the other hand, showing love but never sharing the gospel or inviting people to church won’t work either.

34   merry    
February 8th, 2008 at 9:52 pm

To expound on my above comment: Showing love is great. Christians should be doing it as much as possible. But showing love to people with the intent of evangelizing and never getting to the point of sharing the gospel isn’t great. It’s like a piece of unfinished work.

There are tons of nice people in the world. Some of the most loving and caring people I know aren’t Christians. Christians should show that they are different. They need to let people know they are Christians and not just that they are friendly.

The fact is that souls really are dying and need the gospel. And I don’t see very many Christians who are passionate about getting the gospel out. Sometimes I think we do need people to spend every waking minute spreading the good news. It would be a life well spent for God. Maybe that’s what God calls some people to do. Do people answer that call? “The harvest is plenty but the workers are few . . .” If we really believe the gospel is true, why aren’t we more excited about it? I remember when I was younger and my parents finally gave me permission to get my ears pierced, I was so excited I was telling everyone who would listen. Shouldn’t we be like that about the gospel?

35   Bruce    http://www.gerencser.net
February 8th, 2008 at 10:17 pm

As I was thinking about this I thought that perhaps the first notion that needs to be challenged is that evangelizing or witnessing is our most important or primary responsibility. Does the Bible really teach this? Or is our thinking so compromised by 200 years of revivalist teaching that we have lost sight of what our lives are supposed to be all about?

In the West we tend to compartmentalize everything. We are checklist, calendar oriented people. In the east life is not viewed in this manner. They take a unified approach to life. (holistic) Perhaps we are too Greek for our own good.

Can someone go their whole life and never verbalize the gospel be a Christian, and if a Christian, a good one? Isn’t that the elephant in the room no one wants to mention?

I know a woman who has spent her whole life loving and following Jesus. Works hard. Loves people. Loves her children. Loves her grandchildren. Loves her husband. Does routine works of mercy for others. The light of Jesus in her shines. But, she has never verbalized the gospel to anyone. She is shy, backwards. Rarely speaks a word in a crowd.

It seems to some she is a poor Christian, if a Christian at all because she doesn’t verbalize the gospel message.

Bruce

PS. The woman is my wife.

36   Emergent Eddie    http://www.emergent-c.blogspot.com
February 8th, 2008 at 10:18 pm

Why evangelize? Everybody is going to heaven anyhow.

37   Joe Martino    http://joemartino.name
February 8th, 2008 at 11:16 pm

Well, if she can love her husband I imagine that puts her in Saint status. Reminds me of a woman I know in West Michigan…

38   Joe C    http://www.joe4gzus.blogspot.com
February 8th, 2008 at 11:38 pm

No, everyone is going to hell. Duh.

Joe, you’re making some great points today brother…you too Merry.

Joe

39   merry    
February 9th, 2008 at 12:26 am

Bruce, has your wife “verbalized the gospel” to her children and grandchildren, or at least taken them to church and raised them in Christ? If she has, she’s evengelized! :)

I’m in the same boat as your wife! I’m bad at talking to people I don’t know well. I think whether one should evangelize or not depends on the Holy Spirit’s leading. Lately I’ve been feeling a heavy burden for the lost, and feeling as if I haven’t been doing my part. I know God will help me overcome my shyness if He leads me to go witness. The problem is many of us don’t really listen to the Holy Spirit. It’s extremely easy not to listen.

One thing that annoys me is this Christian sub-culture we have– one can easily go to Christian schools and have their entire social life at church, can work in Christian workplaces such as churches and Christian industries and never really get out and meet people in the outside world. It’s too bad. I think Christians in general should have a more enthusiastic attitude about spreading the gospel.

40   Henry (Rick) Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 9th, 2008 at 7:18 am

“We have this silly notion in America that the reason people don’t get saved is because they lack information. They just need to hear.”

The average unsaved American views this modern brand of Christianity as a way to enhance his present life, a self help system if you will. Humaniatarian works in this culture are legion and come from all sources, from the government to the compassionate atheist and everywhere in between.

The unsaved neighbor sees us as friendly and our Christianity as a convenient religion that fits nicely within our well rounded western lifestyle. They see us content and happy and sometimes so are they. What they do not see is some loving desperation that makes our lives remarkable in the midst of an unremarkable Chistian community.

I agree with Bruce in that God intends us to enjoy Him and the life He has granted to us, but I am convinced by Scripture that we lack the passion and urgency that should accompany what we say we believe. It is that tension that has caused many to either soften the eternal consequences or even remove completely the concept of hell. If there is a lake of fire, and if everyone whose sins have not been covered by Christ’s blood go there forever, and if each person must hear the gospel and believe to be saved, then indeed we are complacent and should admit it.

Evangelism can be done in many ways, but as was mentioned we compartmentalize things so as to avoid feeling any uncomfortable compunction. There are many women who are home bodies who do not have opportunities for personal witness, but they can pray and give to support missions endeavors.

There is coming an awful day in which sinners will be judged and we will give an account. We can still enjoy a slice of pizza, but is there any time where we weep before God for souls, or become consumed with reaching people, or cannot sleep over the lost, or fast for our unsaved friends, or in general reveal a behavior and heart consistent with what we believe? I have still much ground to cover.

Unless you do not believe that.

41   Keith    http://fivepts.blogspot.com
February 9th, 2008 at 10:02 am

Bruce:
My wife is in the same “boat” as yours (”I know a woman who has spent her whole life loving and following Jesus…”) She has been told by our Pastor (and others) that she isn’t trusting God to help her overcome her shyness. Actually, it’s not so much that she’s shy…she’s just not a “people person.” Very private. That’s with adults.

She teaches 4-year-olds (and I mean teaches; it’s amazing what those little kids can learn!) at a private school. She’s always talking to them in the course of the day about Jesus and how God loves them, etc. She may not be going door-to-door, but I’d say that’s evangelism.

42   Henry (Rick) Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 9th, 2008 at 10:58 am

Thank you, Eddie, for providing such a wonderful poster boy for what is wrong with the emergent church. And you even include emergent in your name, at least you are open and public with your unbiblical theology. I appreciate that, at least.

43   Bruce    http://www.gerencser.net
February 9th, 2008 at 11:21 am

Keith, Merry, or is that Merry Keith :)

All of our children were converted in their early teen years and I was the one who spoke with them about it.

My wife and I are on opposite poles……..She is quiet. I have a motor mouth. She enjoys listening to a conversation, I like being in the middle of the conversation. She rarely expresses an opinion, I almost always have an opinion. Of course I tend to have to apologize for things I have said a lot more often than she does :)

Polly worked in the nursery, jr church, Sunday school, plays piano, worked on a bus route, taught in a Christian school.

15 years ago I asked here WHY she did these things? “well I am the pastor’s wife. I am supposed to” I fired her from all her positions and allowed her to “choose” what she wanted to do.
During this time I talked to other Church members and found out there were a number of people doing things in the Church because of perceived expectations or guilt. I had to admit as a pastor I had done things for the same reasons.

Everyone has a place, a gift to share. We are all uniquely different.

Bruce

44   Bruce    http://www.gerencser.net
February 9th, 2008 at 11:23 am

Rick,

Eddie is not representative of emerging thought and you know it.

You can have ANY name. What does it prove?

45   Henry (Rick) Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 9th, 2008 at 11:44 am

Bruce – he surely does represent both a segment of emergent thought and one that lives without much correctional fanfare from those who consider themselves somewhat orthodox. He may take MacLaren a little further, but his theology is MacLaren’s natural conclusion. Eddie could be considered a student of Marcus Borg or John Crossan, both of which come recommended from MacLaren’s own lips.

A name proves nothing, it’s the teaching that is the fruit.

46   Henry (Rick) Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 9th, 2008 at 11:49 am

Bruce – Is Spencer Burke emergent?

47   Bruce    http://www.gerencser.net
February 9th, 2008 at 12:06 pm

Rick,

I am not going to play this dumb name association game with you. Anyone can have any name and say anything.

By tomorrow, at this time, I can have a blog at henryfrueh.com and write anything I want under your name. kensilva.net is available too.

If you can’t see this Rick…….nothing I can write will make a bit a difference.

Bruce

48   Henry (Rick) Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 9th, 2008 at 12:13 pm

Fair enough. But can you provide me with the definition and parameters of the emergent church movement so I can have some guidelines with which to accurately assess someone’s name association?

I do not quite get your henryfrueh.net example, are you saying emergent eddie is an odm parading as emergent? Of course when you say he is not representative of emergent thought I wish to have a definition of exactly what is “emerging thought”. That is a legitimate question.

49   Bruce    http://www.gerencser.net
February 9th, 2008 at 12:33 pm

Rick,

What I am saying is that anyone can be anything and say anything on the internet. Just because they have emergent in their name means nothing.

My point on henryfreuh.com or rickfrueh.com, for that matter, is that I can buy those domains in the next 60 seconds and by tomorrow be writing that Rick Frueh approves of ____________________. Rick Frueh believes_______________

Since emergent, emerging, is not a denomination there is no doctrinal standard per se. There is no head guru, no denominational headquarters, no membership to join, nada.

I don’t know how many times I have to say this……….it is a discussion among followers of Jesus about the direction and the future of the Church. It is a discussion about impacting the world for Jesus.

As a result, emerging, emergent (and they are somewhat different) can have a variety of beliefs. It is never wise to judge any movement by the extremes (unless everything they do and say is extreme)

I know the whole emerging discussion drives people nuts. They live in a world where everything is defined by labels, categories, and groups. They can’t fit emergents into any category so they deem them evasive and label them as heretics.

I am of the opinion that heretic is a very serious word and should rarely ever be used. It is easy to throw it around on the internet. It wounds. It hurts. It is an attempt to destroy someone.

It is like being accused of denying the gospel. I have been accused of that. I have shown myself to be orthodox and yet my critics refuse to acknowledge that. I have to assume that their purpose is to discredit me by any means possible. They see me as a member of the emerging movement and as such I can NOT be orthodox in their eyes.

This is the reason, for the most part, I give the ODM’s the finger (in Christian love of course) They are not interested in honest, open, real discussion nor are they concerned with me as an individual. What they are concerned with is their agenda and advancing their cause as the “keepers of the flame.”

Bruce

50   Henry (Rick) Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 9th, 2008 at 12:47 pm

You have raised some legitimate points. However when you say people define the movement by extremes you cannot define extremes without some “mainstream” doctrinal standards by which we can compare. What is a doctrinal extreme? And as soon as you present what you believe are extremes you have begun to construct a doctrinal standard which up until now the emergent village has eschewed.

So when a person says he is emerging in his view, his definition is just as legitiamte as anyone else’s. (i.e. Emergent eddie). For instance, Rick Warren would not say he is emergent, however, if he did he would have to be considered emergent simply by his own admission since there are no standards by which to examine the authenticity of that statement. In essence, you join by owning the name.

Our discussion began by my acknowledgment of eddie’s emergent affiliation, he is allowed to join the emerging thought because what he espouses is legitimate in the context of the emerging discussion. You are correct in your name association when there is a standard. If I said Iwas a Calvinist I could be proven wrong because my theology is at odds with Calvinism, but nothing on Eddie’s blog is disallowed in the emerging thought discourse.

Hence, he can label himself.

51   Bruce    http://www.gerencser.net
February 9th, 2008 at 1:08 pm

Rick,

I am sympathetic to the emerging movement on a number of levels so I gladly say I am emerging. All that means is that I want to be a part of the discussion……..Since I was a part of the problem, I want to be part of the solution.

This movement is in its infancy. Give it time. Let’s see where it goes. Time always proves things out.

In the 1960-70’s Baptist Fundamentalism was the hottest thing going.During this time most of the largest Churches in America were from this tribe. Where are they today? In many places a mere shell of what they once were. It took time to prove the validity of the movement. It took time to fully expose their teaching and doctrine. Please understand I am speaking very generally here.

Let’s see where the whole emerging/emergent issue is 20 years from now. If it is of God we will see the fruit. If it is not it will be exposed for what it really is.

People seem to think that truth can not stand challenge so they attack any and all who oppose their version of truth. What is everyone so afraid of? When did questions become threats? When did challenging the status quo become an attack on orthodoxy?

Every generation needs to own the truth for themselves. We are not the Reformers or the Puritans. We are not the first century Church. We are 21st century postmoderns and we must wrestle with the truth and make it our own. If God is God, the truth will survive.

Well, enough of this for me :)

I think the original post was about evangelism:)

Bruce

Bruce

52   Emergent Eddie    http://www.emergent-c.blogspot.com
February 9th, 2008 at 1:24 pm

I think conversation is more important than evangelism. After all, why would I want to offend people? I have a little more access to groups because they know that I am willing to have an open ended conversation to build relationships.

I was at a synagogue with a group of emerging Rabbis. They discussed the Torah, and told wonderful stories of multi-media seders and passover celebration. I encouraged them to try a prayer labrynyth so they could open up their reflective prayer life. I then told them that Jesus was really an emerging Rabbi, and that he loved his chosen people, the Jews. I offered them hope that they could accept Jesus a Messiah, but if they chose to stay in their current tradition, that I was sure that God would receive them according to the old covenant.

I am willing to accept all people, and I believe Jesus hates denominational and religious boxes that we put him in.

53   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
February 9th, 2008 at 1:27 pm

EE,

You’re not even a good parody, as you don’t represent what “emergent” Christians believe, but just a sad caricature/paper tiger that the ODM’s have constructed out of fear and loathing…

54   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
February 9th, 2008 at 1:29 pm

Rick,

You wrote:

Thank you, Eddie, for providing such a wonderful poster boy for what is wrong with the emergent church. And you even include emergent in your name, at least you are open and public with your unbiblical theology. I appreciate that, at least.

Actually, Rick, if you go to EE’s site, you can see that he’s just a fundy pretending to be the paper tiger of “emergent” as envisioned by Ken, Ingrid, the Pyro’s , etc….

55   Bruce    http://www.gerencser.net
February 9th, 2008 at 1:31 pm

Should Eddie here have a part in the discussion? Certainly. I respect his views, though I may disagree with some of them. But who does Eddie speak for? Eddie.

Same for Bruce. I speak for Bruce. I know I am different from some of the other CRN writers. I lean to the left, ok list real badly to the left :) and I am more emerging friendly than some of the other writers. They show graciousness in allowing my viewpoint and I accept all of them as my brethren (even Joe who is a Godless Yankee’s fan)

Bruce

56   Emergent Eddie    http://www.emergent-c.blogspot.com
February 9th, 2008 at 1:31 pm

Sorta like Murphy McStinker and Itodyaso?

Ah, No, I am too real to be a parody.

57   Bruce    http://www.gerencser.net
February 9th, 2008 at 1:32 pm

Chris,

I commented at Eddie’s about joining his Church. I didn’t get a reply :)

58   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
February 9th, 2008 at 1:33 pm

Sorta like Murphy McStinker and Itodyaso?

Who are both Iggy (by his admission) and both link back to Iggy, whom we can identify.

Ah, No, I am too real to be a parody.

And I’m the President of the United States.

You’re now officially on moderation…

59   Phil Miller    http://veritasfellowship.blogspot.com
February 9th, 2008 at 1:35 pm

Not that I ever doubted it was him, but John’s (pastorboy) not even a good troll.

pastorboy’s IP address: 216.16.90.211

Emergent Eddie’s: 216.16.90.211

Are you that bored, John?

60   Emergent Eddie    http://www.emergent-c.blogspot.com
February 9th, 2008 at 1:35 pm

Bruce,

Everybody is welcome at my church, even backslidden former fundies! :)

You don’t even have to agree with my docrinal statement.

61   Emergent Eddie    http://www.emergent-c.blogspot.com
February 9th, 2008 at 1:37 pm

Phil gets the prize. Congratulations, Phil!

You get to play “Name the deconstructed verse”

62   Henry (Rick) Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 9th, 2008 at 1:39 pm

As an internet challenge person I now am confused about how authentic emergent eggie is, however I think his theology is where some of the emergents are heading. If he is a legitimate person, he still can be a self proclaimed participant in the emreging discussion, no?

63   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
February 9th, 2008 at 1:40 pm

Phil:

pastorboy’s IP address: 216.16.90.211

Emergent Eddie’s: 216.16.90.211

I must have messed up my search to correlate IP’s.

John – if you want to be as silly as Iggy, fine, but please link to your own site to identify yourself… Just realize that you’re not even doing a good job of parodying “emergent”…

64   Henry (Rick) Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
February 9th, 2008 at 1:42 pm

If your evidence is correct, Chris, then Pastor Boy should be ashamed. In my view that is internet lying unless, like Iggy, you gladly reveal who you are.

65   Bruce    http://www.gerencser.net
February 9th, 2008 at 1:47 pm

Here is the email for John’s district Superintendent

nwd@nwdcma.org

I wonder how happy he would be to know an Alliance pastor is doing this?

http://www.cmalliance.org/ncm/district.jsp?dc=27