Posted by: sdunnpastor | January 5, 2012

THE PROBLEM WITH EVANGELISM

THE PROBLEM WITH EVANGELISM

 by Stephen L Dunn

When the ERC decided to once again have a Commission on Evangelism, they commissioned me to be its first chair.  This was not the first time there had been such a commission. When I first entered the ministry in the early 70’s, there was such a commission but it was paired with Christian social concerns.  Like most two-headed anythings, once side gets more attention than the other. The old ECSC Commission tended to focus on social concerns – on community change instead of life change,.  I departed Pennsylvania for  almost 25 years into the Midwest–first working for the denomination, then as a pastor in Ohio and Indiana.  During that time I developed a passion for evangelism, especially as identified in 2 Corinthians 5 as the “ministry of reconciliation.”

It was there I discovered the resource Becoming a Contagious Christian and another idea, Servant Evangelism.  I taught my churches how to build redemptive relationships and perform acts of kindness in Jesus’ name to lay a pre-evangelism foundation.  The churches I served began to enjoy evangelism as they found tools and understandings, but most importantly, a passion for the lost.

In Pennsylvania I learned that there was often little passion for evangelism and hence little evangelism being carried out–except in attractional events like crusades and revivals, most of those attended by the already persuaded.   And the methods when used often centered simply around a confrontation for the purposes of eliciting a decision, rather than discipling for life change.

At the first Conference after our creation, we engaged in a little two question survey: It was distributed to the lay delegates, persons who had been in leadership sometimes for generations.  The two questions were: (1) do you personally engage in a ministry of evangelism and (2) if not, why not?

What do you think were the answers given to those questions?  Make a list, and then think a bit why each answer would be on such a list?  This will be part of our discussion in the class “What is the Gospel?”

This post was published earlier this week on DEEPER EVANGELISM the blog for the School of Evangelism as a discussion preparing the students for this weekend’s class “What is the Gospel?” More will follow.

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