Thanks to yesterday's post about 'converting them' I have had a few emails from people wanting to discuss evangelism (pity they don't do it on the blog, but hey ho - it's the engagement and dialogue that helps me grow, know or let go). Some have asked what I think evangelism is and who, how and why we do it - and here's my response and definitions (not complete or comprehensive, merely what comes off the top of the deck as I deal the cards):
Evangelism - the spreading of the 'Good News' that is the Gospel (for that is what it means - Good News) about humanity and the Creator being reconciled (meaning 'brought together' or 'made one') by the at-one-ing (atoning) act of Jesus (who's job title is 'The Christ' meaning 'the anointed one of God')). It is all about explaining who He is and who we are, and can be by means of what I (and many others - not my word by the way) a kerygma (a word coming from the root that means herald or messenger like a town crier).
The kerygma is cool because it is something we deliver as historic (man, God and sin) current (in that it is our story) and physically present (because of how we think, act and engage with people and situations).
So I would talk about sin coming into the world, Jesus coming in to the world to remove the separation from me and God (which means the cross), my acceptance and growth and development and experiences and the reasons I think it is so amazing that I want to share it (just as I share good eating places and the like).
And that's the 'What' of evangelism and much of the 'Why' - which has alongside my wanting to share something good that I have found the fact that I am also told to do it by Jesus. This being told bit goes like this: 'Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, teaching them to do what God tells us to do.'
Simple really - we have to get off our bottoms and get out there, not sit behind closed doors with out little closed minds looking to keep our hands clean, and share the Good News of Jesus looking to bring people to a place where what they see is so good they want it too.
We don't frighten them into heaven ('If you don't become a Christian you'll burn in hell') and we don't bribe them ('Become a Christian and you can have job/home/education/hospital' - delete as applicable) like we have seen across the globe as part of the benefit of missions work!
We bring them to a place where they want to join the club and when they do, we engage with them in the membership service - Baptism.
To be baptised they have to:
i. Want to be baptised, and
ii. Understand what they're joining and what benefits AND demands it places upon them.
Should have been baptised before (and if they have then to do it again is quite wrong as I understand the Bible - hint being: There is but one baptism and this is done in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit) then a warm handshake and prayer suffices! The wet bit has been done (and if it was Anglican then there's oil and candles involved too).
And when this has been done we nurture and teach them to read, pray and understand (challenging, questioning and bringing forth dialogue) to become fully engaged, brain switched on and intelligent Christians.
Of course to do this we need to be out there where the need is and this is one of the reasons why finding Christians out there being engaged and working with people where the needs are is so important. If we do Church expecting people to come to the place we have prepared for them (our place) then we can close our doors now because people cannot 'Come Back' to a place they have never been. We need to go out into their places (because EVERYWHERE is God's) and bless what God is going outside of our church buildings.
We need to bee seen to be normal people who are fun to be around and as people realise that this is indeed the case they also realise that there's something we have that they'd like (or having met some Christians, they merely realise their assumptions about us were totally right and we are indeed a bunch of Blinking loonies!).
So there we are Jane, John, Tom and Dave - some answers for you. I look forward to your assessment (and long for you to post it on the blog instead :-) )