Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Missional Evangelism from iMonk

Nevermind how I found this article at iMonk, but I did. I don't read iMonk regularly, so don't get the impression I agree with everything he says because I don't know what he says. But this article about the "Future of Missional Evangelism" is interesting.

I looked at one other article in his series "Physician Heal Thyself" and iMonk pits reformational evangelism against revivalist techniques. One thing I have noticed in this article and other reformed books on evangelism is that a false dichotomy is created in that either evangelism is "friendship/earn-the-right-to-be-heard" evangelism or else it is a hideous "bait and switch" type of evangelism.

In CCC, we have always been about taking the initiative to share the Gospel and then leaving the results to God...as the old saying went. But no CCC'er I have ever known likes the idea of lecturing people without listening or spending time putting on big "revival" meetings where we twist people's emotions. We hate that kind of stuff, amen?

Missional evangelism is appealing because it falls in line with what we already have seen is the most successful evangelism--friends introducing friends to Jesus....which involves opening your mouth and communicating with real words about Christ.

That is not to say we don't see people come to faith when sharing randomly on campus. I have a friend who came to faith at Cal Poly Pomona over 25 years ago after a staff person approached her during lunch and shared the 4-laws with her. My friend says she was just "ripe fruit" ready to be picked. God ordained for her to meet this staff person "doing randoms" near the stables one afternoon.

Of course, I hear some of you saying, "Yeah, that was 25 years ago....things were different." Yeah, I am an old guy. But remember what the Bible says about gray hair. Watch it.

Anyhow...that is not really my point.....it's just that I came across this article on Missional Evangelism and it articulates some of the things we have already been discussing.

13 Comments:

Blogger Stan said...

"One thing I have noticed in this article and other reformed books on evangelism is that a false dichotomy is created in that either evangelism is "friendship/earn-the-right-to-be-heard" evangelism or else it is a hideous "bait and switch" type of evangelism."

I read the article to which you allude and I think it is possible you missed his point. The difference between his approach to evangelism and the one he replaced is not "friendship" versus "bait and switch". It is ... non-evangelism. While the standard evangelism is altar calls and crusades, he is offering a simple preaching of the Gospel. He believes that natural man is dead in sin, so plees and altar calls are pretty much useless. If natural man is truly dead in sin, then it requires an act of God to change them before they can respond, and his evangelism is the "present the truth and let God sort 'em out" type rather than the "urge a response" type.

I'm not entirely sure it's not a false dichotomy. I'm simply mentioning it because I think you misunderstood what the emphasis of his evangelistic approach is. It is not "friendship".

9:49 AM  
Anonymous Alisha J said...

It seems to me this article was an answer to the common thought that Calvinists don't do evangelism. I know it's common because someone close to me just told me and DJ that a few months ago when we talked about being Calvinists. I thought it was funny since last time I checked we are on staff with an organization who's purpose is getting the gospel out and doing evangelism with students.

This quote seems to let us know his purpose, "This is not an illusion. Dr. Caner’s sound and appreciated warning for Calvinists is needed. Now, who will ring the bells of warning for the evangelicals that have given us Rick Warren and Joel Osteen as America’s most successful pastors?" My thought is this article is to remind us that we need to see both sides as needing to grow and be aware of their faults in evangelism.

I think "ministry mode evangelism" is biblical and needed. In fact, Dr. Keller at the Desiring God Conference talked about how there are lots of opportunities to present the gospel in this fashion and be relevant to this generation. I would say our Porn Nation outreach last year was a great example of this. A felt need that is an issue for our campus and people we are trying to reach. The gospel is the answer for this problem and it was easy to connect the two during the presentation.

I guess the question I'm asking right now isn't, "let's stop all ministry mode evangelism" and pursue only missional relationships but, "how do we do ministry mode evangelism in ways that are effective?" I do think many of the ways we have been doing it over the last 50 years are not connecting with this generation.

Surveys feel like a telamarketer to students when they are approached on campus. Honestly, if I'm out and some asks me to do a survey, I keep walking. Flyers passed out are clumped together with the 10 others they got on their way to class and thrown in the nearest trashcan when out of site. Even the 4-laws assumes that a student believes in the bible and God, which just isn't true for majority of the students at Cal Poly.

So, here's my question back to everyone:

"What ways can we do or change ministry mode evangelism to see it connect with students today?"

"How can we update our tools to see them be more effective when we do it?"

Thoughts??

10:48 AM  
Blogger Kristie said...

I think first we need a post defining the different "modes" of evangelism just to bring everyone up to speed.

Alisha? DJ? .....

11:25 AM  
Blogger Colonel Green said...

Okay, I was liking the iMonk post because it talks about Calvinists being evangelists. Why does that bug people?

11:27 AM  
Blogger Stan said...

I'm not bugged. I was merely suggesting that perhaps you missed the point on one single article.

John Piper calls himself a "seven point Calvinist". (I admit I don't really know what that means.) As a self-confessed Calvinist, I know of no one with a bigger heart for missions, so I'm with you that Calvinists make good evangelists.

I was only seeking to clarify the one thing I thought you might have misunderstood. If I misunderstood what I thought you misunderstood, then I apologize for the misunderstanding. If it is at all possible to make that more confusing or humorous, feel free to let me know. =)

Oh, and I'm with Kristie. I wish someone would explain "ministry mode evangelism" and "missional relationships". I'm not sure I understand the terminology.

11:34 AM  
Blogger Colonel Green said...

Stan, I wasn't referring to you being bugged (you didn't seem bugged)....I was talking about those who read our blog that disagree with our Calvinism. I've heard rumblings they are out there (and we welcome differing opinions, so all are welcome to comment...we will be kind to whoever).

Yeah, "ministry mode" is kind of an insider term we have been using in CCC circles that I think are really helpful in understanding evangelism and they are based on Biblical models. Hopefully one of us around here will do a post soon on it.

12:07 PM  
Blogger RevyRev said...

Uh oh... someone said the "C" word!

I was at a missionary interview conference for one of the largest missions agencies in the world last week. MOST of the young guys (i met) in their 20s were Calvinists and they were applying for some of the craziest jobs in the hard places of the world.

They wouldn't tell you they were Calvinist unless you asked them. They love working with anyone who trusts, follows, and worships Jesus. I don't see how they are divisive or anti-evangelistic or anti-missions...

Now some old-school-Calvinists CAN act like unsavory salt. But the young generation are going to preach the gospel, struggle in prayer for the lost, and contextualize but never compromise.

And I assure you these people not going to teach indigenous village elders to walk around like idiots around some prayer labyrinth to get in touch with their chick side.

3:53 PM  
Blogger Colonel Green said...

I just innocently referred to the article...was the word "Calvinist" in there?

4:04 PM  
Blogger RevyRev said...

Alisha started it!

6:35 PM  
Anonymous Caleb B. said...

Alisha, you pose a very good question:
"What ways can we do or change ministry mode evangelism to see it connect with students today?"

I think one way is to change the 'materials' that are being used. There has been much talk of how the 4 laws assumes much of the hearer that does not apply to the new generations. So we need to use something else, if you remember D.A. Carson suggested using the "2 Ways 2 Live" tract. This is produced by Matthias Media, check out the tract in the store.

But there needs to be much more change than simply using a different tract. We need to do much more praying and thinking on the subject to come up with some changes that could be made.

Let's keep this thought alive -- What other suggestions do people have?!?

8:13 PM  
Anonymous Caleb B. said...

I meant to give the link to Matthias Media, it is:
http://www.matthiasmedia.com.au/

8:15 PM  
Anonymous Alisha J said...

I didn't start it, I just quoted the article. :) I asked DJ to post on the 3 modes of evangelism that we talked about - so Stan ... look for that post real soon to explain more.

I agree Caleb - DJ and I ordered some life at large tracks to try them on campus. It's a lot longer and probably more useful with friends in a conversation but it doesn't assume a basic understanding of the bible. Check it out here: http://www.alliantstudios.com/solutions/web/lifatlg.swf

As far as other changes, DJ and I are looking into how do we train students in basic relational skills. I think sometimes the major challenge for us is learning how to build real relationships outside of the Christian Community. We don't have it in stone yet, but we are thinking through what this would look like.

We need more ideas. At the DG conference, Tim Keller a guy who's been at this a lot longer than we have mentioned he didn't know of tools for this but hoped we start creating them. This is the challenge and it's a lot more than just a new tract.

11:30 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Some helpful translation on three evangelism modes as described in CCC. Hope this helps and I'm open to refinement on the definitions.

Ministry Mode - This would encompass, "cold turkey" evangelism on campus, in parks, door to door, bringing a speaker, large events addressing a felt need and connecting the Gospel. It's taking the initiative to share Christ in a scheduled event driven activity.

Natural Mode - (which most closely fits Missional evangelism or living Missionally) This is evangelism as a lifestyle. Taking advantage of every relationship or interaction in normal life and looking for opportunities to share the Gospel in part or whole. Examples would be a conversation with a cashier in the store, waving to your neighbor(with the hope of conversing later), classmate talking about homework etc. It still involves initiative and is in no way passive.

Body Mode - this is particularly a group effort. "they will know we are Christians by our love for one another." This is where a person sees the interactions of believers and seeing some kind of difference becomes part of the community and along the way becomes a believer through one of the other modes. Its a person being evangelized by a group. An example would be a professor is part of the academic community and sees that there are other professors who are believers and sees their interaction in church or Christian faculty event. The professor then realizes there is a community waiting for him/her if he/she were to become a believer. Another similar example would be a muslim converting to christianity.

Usually the three modes can all be going on at the same time or concurrently and sometimes they are happening separately. Hope that helps.

9:17 PM  

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