Occasionally, I look over my list of recent entries, and the categories to which they’re assigned. Basically, that gives me an idea of what I’ve been thinking/writing about of late, and usually highlights for me any imbalances on where I’m spending my cranial cycles. Looking down over the list, you’d get the impression that my ‘Christianity’ category thinking has been sorely lacking. Truth is, the thinking’s been there, just not the writing.
I’ve been reading a book called “Lifestyle Evangelism” that I checked out of our church’s resource center. Its basic premise is that the idea of evangelism being a spiel you give some stranger about the importance of Christ in their life is completely wrong. Not only is it the wrong approach, in terms of effectiveness (I’m not a big fan of folks cold-calling me for relatively minor decisions like swapping my mortgage – big life decisions like where to put your faith and trust just don’t belong in a cold-call kind of setting), it’s not really the truest form of evangelism. Dr. Aldrich’s position is that evangelism is really an outpouring of our lives as they reflect Christ’s impact on us. Our evangelistic outreach really comes as we reach to folks in their ordinary, world-weary situations, and come to know them and their concerns, and then are able to come alongside of them to show how Christ can impact them, in their day-to-day travails.
In other words, we’re to live with, interact with, and minister to folks in their specific situations – whether that be a homeless person seeking their next meal, or the guy who seems to have it all in the corner office. There’s not a blanket answer or cold-call patter. The cold-call patter approach is actually directly against the vein of “Love one another” – there’s little love for an individual expressed in a rehearsed script repeated ad infinitum to spiritual “targets”.
Examining our first case, our theoretical homeless person has physical needs that Christ has promised to meet; in the second case, our theoretical executive may have a need for meaning in their life, or a sense of peace and balance, or a need for a loving marriage, or… To help our theoretical executive, the answer isn’t as simple as going down to the soup kitchen to make a hot meal. His or her kinds of needs are typically hidden away, seen only by folks who’ve taken the time to form a relationship.
The book’s been very interesting, in showing the qualities necessary in a believer for lifestyle evangelism, and the qualities necessary in a church that’s interested in developing lifestyle evangelistic believers. Both encouraging and challenging, especially as I poke at it for myself personally, and try to figure out how it would apply to, say, kids – both my own and the kids I come into contact with via Sunday school or via Pioneer Girls.
Anyway, culling my thoughts here seems to clarify them a bit for me, although may cause me to muddle them for everyone else… if you have any comments or want to discuss this stuff, bounce me an email or drop something in the comments for this entry.