Sunday, October 14, 2012

No artificial additives?

We are reading a book called Evangelism without Additives at housegroup. (Housegroups are invaluable and much more important than Sunday services - but some of the stuff you end up reading together is kind of bizarre!) The book is commendable in that it makes a brave attempt to shave away some of the crud that has piled on top of the notion of 'sharing one's faith'.

But the fact that the author, Jim Henderson, finds it necessary to remind churches that talking about Jesus is not a case of 'sealing a deal' to get someone into heaven is really quite remarkably depressing. Depressing because he's right - we do need reminding! 

Our churches (at their worst) have bought into consumerist, PR / marketing stance when it comes to 'selling' their product to those outside. They fret about how to create the right evangelistic event, how to explain Christian faith in the way most likely to win someone over, how to engineer the maximum number of scenarios and relationships in which to 'witness'. In other words, how to optimise the brand and number of sales calls. We call this love for non-believers (how incredibly patronising) but really, let's face it, it's about making ourselves feel superior, believe that we're doing the job right. And it must be awfully off-putting.

Did Jesus 'evangelise' in the sense of trying to get someone from the outside, into the club? No. He spoke honestly about heavenly and earthly things, about his relationship with God. He spoke in this way to all those he came into contact with, some of them religious Jews, some of them not. He recommended a life of liberating action and relationship with God, not of following a particular doctrine. He told his followers to make disciples, not get people to 'say the magic prayer' that gets them into heaven. 'Hell' (as we talk about it) wasn't on his agenda at all.

He tells his follwers not to concern themselves with someone else's immortal status but to pick up their own cross and follow. Leave the spiritual status of others to them and to God - the only one qualified to judge.

Evangelism without additives? Evangelism is an additive. Please can we move on?!

1 comment:

Rich Burley said...

Hear, hear Anna. And you're not a lazy trout!