Friday, August 29, 2008

Evangelism - Cultivation

I am using the word to include all those things involved in producing positive growth, like water, fertilizer, and weeding. These are controllable factors (if you turn the sprinkler on) that can be wisely applied. Love, compassion and service can show God's heart for people. As can, inviting people to participate in situations that enable them to connect with God's family, to interact with them and observe them, and observe them interact with one another. And defending truth steadfastly, persistently, faithfully, but with patience, kindness and gentleness.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Evangelism - Sowing

Seed is often used in scripture as a metaphor for the word of God. One plants different seed at different times, in different ways. Peas are planted very early. Cucumbers, squash and melons are planted in small mounds. Corn is clustered together. The timing and method of the planting determines the fruitfulness of the seed.

Successful evangelism involves proclaiming the word of God. Yet like gardening, there are timing and methodology issues. Today it is possible to go to a Starbucks and get in a spiritual conversation with a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Wiccan, a Mormon and a chemical-determinist. Each requires different approaches and different truths. Different truths are necessary, because they are in different stages of their journey. So, one may be ready to hear the good news message, from one of the popular tools. And another may only be open to a tiny bit. We need to approach each person with spiritual sensitivity, applying that part of the word that is needed.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Evangelism - Preparation

In the Bible, evangelism is described using an gardening metaphor. It is a process and each part of the gardening process can be viewed as part of the "good news" process.

The first step in gardening is preparing the soil. There are a number of things to do in preparation. The gardener needs to decide what to plant. Corn? Beans? Peas? Cucumbers? The methods of planting these common plants is different for each plant. He has to break up the soil. He has to lay out the garden, according to what is being planted.

There are a number spiritual practices that can be put under this category. There is prayer. And prayer with different focuses: to soften hearts, to remove obstacles that blind eyes, to hinder the enemy's work that causes confusion, discouragement and despair.

This area could also include acts of service, mercy and compassion within the local community. These acts can communicate the heart of God's people. Jesus served people who did not know Him by acceptance, healing their ills and insight into their problems.

It can also include lifestyle choices and practices to demonstrate integrity, character and Christ-like attitudes. The last two paint a picture of a positive effect of following Jesus to the world. The first works with God to promote a positive spiritual climate where all reparation can have the greatest effect.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Evangelism usually creates mental images of televangelists in big stadiums, unwanted intrusions knocking at your door, or someone sticking a pamphlet in your face. Usually, impolitely. Evangelism is derived from a Greek word meaning "good news" or "good report". Most people who are not part of God's family treat it like an intrusion. It doesn't seem to them to be good news at all.

It seems to me that for someone to receive it as good news, there is a process that needs to be gone through.

First, we need to demonstrate that in reality, it is good news. We need to show what a life of trust in Jesus means. Francis Schaeffer called this pre-evangelism. How we go about this changes, depending in circumstances, and cultural background. Sometimes rational arguments can be used. Sometimes an emotional stimulus is needed. And sometimes practical works. The end result that we are looking for, is someone saying "Hmm ... there is something good/right/true about this Jesus thing. Something that maybe I need." I am not suggesting that God's children over emphasize the positive aspects of living life with Jesus. Nor am I suggesting that they ignore or minimize the commitment and possible complications. Still, good news needs to be seen as good news.

Second, there is an explanation of the message of Jesus. Simply laid out. Tailored at the level of the audience's understanding. The Bible says we need to adapt our communication, rather than compel the audience to adapt to our communication.