In the times we are in, there has been much that has demoted evangelism to the bottom of the pile. Many people are reluctant to share faith because of the culture of the society we’re in, such as the culture I described yesterday. Some thing that because the church isn’t a norm in society, because we’re pluralistic and multi-cultural, and because the world doesn’t readily except the gospel that everyone once had a knowledge of, what we must do now is just make friends and hope the gospel shines from us. I understand that conclusion.
However, there is an alternative we must consider. You know, especially here in the UK, there are more and more people who have no idea of the gospel story. I make reference to the supermarket Sainsburys who last year put out a press release in support of the sale of all their Easter eggs, stating that they had a commitment to sell them due to them being a celebration of Christ’s birth! Then re-issued the statement stating that it wasn’t, of course his birth, but his death. Then, for a third time, they re-issued a statement and confessed that it was in fact in celebration of his resurrection that they were selling the eggs! People don’t know the story of Jesus.
I think that much of our evangelism has had the purpose of getting people to come to church. Again, I state that ‘church’ as an institution, and as a place you go and have services done to you by the professional clergyman and where you don’t have to buy in further than chipping a few quid into the collection plate are over. If churchianity is indeed coming to an end (please God!), then the people who will be Christians are those who are totally sold out to Jesus and many of the people who have some notion that they should attend church will do so no more on cultural grounds. As things get tough in the world with regards to being a Christian, the tactic of getting people to front up to a service on a Sunday will be useless.
Why? Because church is not what happens on a Sunday or Wednesday night. Its not somewhere you go. Church is something we are..and…there is only one church. The word churches shouldn’t really be in our vocabulary because there is but one body. Someone once said that Jesus is coming back for A bride, not a hareem.
So, if evangelism is not to get people to come along to our church empires, what is it? It is the good news of the Kingdom of God, thats what it is. Jesus preached everywhere that the Kingdom of God was at hand. There is an alternative way that you are invited into, a different world, eternity beginning here and now where the charactistics are righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Where the first are last and the last are first etc etc. The entry point into that Kingdom is through repentance and faith in the key character, Jesus, who steps into history of the human being and provides the keys of escape from our corrupt society and our corrupt lives into this other Kingdom.
We have the incredible opportunity to begin to tell the story, God’s story of redemption. Remember when two disciples were walking along the Emmaus road? They didn’t recognise the Jesus that walked with them, they were caught up in the shock of all that had happened, but Jesus brings some context to what they’d just experience by taking them to Moses and the prophets! Have you ever noticed that? Jesus talks to them about his own significance in the context of history….he tells them the story that they’d maybe never considered.
In any case, we have a load of people who don’t know our story (including Sainsburys!). And here is our chance to present not a ‘come to our church’ gospel but welcome to the Kingdom…come, taste and see the beauty of it…come live it with us and we live counter-culturally to the world we are in through the gateway of the cross, death and resurrection of Jesus.
We have the opportunity not to bring people to church, sit them in a pew and leave them forever unemployed in the salvation story of the world. We can invite them in and have them taking part straight away.
We are a salvation people….this is our speciallity. Getting saved, keeping saved, and getting others saved. And when we’re saved, we’re saved to save (and serve too).
Join the Army…be a soldier…enter the adventure…live out the Kingdom and invite people to join you.