New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches


July 10, 2001 Vol 01 : 030

 

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Pop evangelism techniques

[New Testament Church Proliferation] Helping Westerners appreciate how God works through networks to evangelize.

 

Date: Mon, 09 Jul 2001 07:43:38 -0400 From: "Sam Buick"

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Pop evangelism techniques

Good  thread here Link:

I think that evangelicalism has suffered its greatest setbacks by the secular culture.  The worst of these is the "Four Spiritual Laws" that Campus Crusade among others (Billy Graham Association) has used over the last thirty years.  The Christian Union in the UK had a study about 5 years back that traced the effect of the 1966 Billy Graham Crusade in London England.  After almost 30 years there were negligible results to the Crusade.  The lasting fruit of the Crusade was not evident.  The greatest impact of one convert was the impact the life and career of Cliff Richard has had in the UK.  But the churches all reported that there were not lasting fruit either in the lives of individuals who initially made a "confession" of faith (sinners prayer), and those who "rededicated" their lives.

The worst aspect of the whole Crusade phenomenon is that it is by and large a "canned" effort on the part of man to do what God needs to do.  I was involved locally with the ministerial in our twin cities when the late Terry Winter came for a crusade, as well as Franklin Graham a few years ago.  Both of these were flops!  The reasons are by and large the same for both.1. The whole methodology is wrong.  A crusade only truly draws on the converted or the religious.  It becomes an event that attempts to do what believers ought to be doing, reaching out to those outside the Kingdom.  Evangelism is a gift, but being a witness is the high calling of every believer.  Most people do not know the "ordo salutis" (order of salvation in Romans 8) and do not know how to address basis biblical doctrine in sound everyday theological precision.  We can easily put the responsibility to that on the easy believism and lack of substance in most of the Bible teaching and preaching which has saturated the evangelical landscape the last 25 years.

2. The dependency on formula over dependency of the Spirit and the Word of God.  People want the easy way out all the time.  People are reductionists who simply say, "Tell me what to do, and in what order, and I will do it."  This is prevalent in our culture and in the church at large.  People do not like to think or process things through a sound biblical exegesis.  There is such a lack of understanding of the most basic of doctrine that it is frighening.  There is no true discipleship, because people have not wrestled through these things in their own lives.  Discipleship is the fruit of wrestling with God about His holiness, our own sin, and coming to terms with His remedy.  People just want the remedy without the wrestling, and even if they could, without God.

I took part in "counselor training" and when I found out that people were going to be planted over the auditorium for the big altar call, and when the call was given, they were told to come forward, so that it would "ease others into moving under the conviction of the Holy Spirit!"  No! This is not conviction, it is good old fashion manipulation and deceit!  And this was Franklin Graham!

3. The quick fix over and against salt and light living.  People look at the unsaved as notches to be put on a six gun!  Believers are brow beaten to witness and evangelize.  So many do it out of duty and fear.  The sooner they get it done the better.  People do not invest their lives in the lives of other people who have yet to enter into the Kingdom.  They want to give them the sales pitch, close the deal, and move to the next one!

The Bible teaches living with and reaching out to others in  a relational fashion.  One crisis in our post modern world, which current ecclessiology is having a most difficult task in dealing with is in the area of relational community.  Our churches are as fractured as our work places, homes and society as a whole.  We are forgetting what it means to be "family" and what it means to be "community".  Salt and light, living and interacting in the lives of people needs to be the key component to effective biblical evangelism.

4. The conflict of "separation as segregation" versus the "separation unto holiness".  Christians today are more and more becoming isolationists and segregationalist with other believers and those yet to enter the Kingdom of God. While great strides are being made in biblical unity, most of the unity we have seen has been shallow and event based, as in supporting a local crusade.  It has been results oriented rather that relational.  Our unity is based on relationship, just as Jesus and the Father are one, so are we one with the Father just as He is.  Once the unity is vertical (Father and myself) then unity with other brothers and sisters is the natural relational outflow (horizontal). 

We are called to not be separate for people but to be involved relationally with them.  We are to live (community) amongst people without become like them!

Separation is a holiness issue.  It is an issue of the heart, not were we live and hang out!  It is relational.  It is our own communion with Jesus through the Spirit.  If I love and adore Him, I will separate myself unto Him and commune with Him.  He is my life and my all and I will saturate my life with His presence.  If I love Him as I proclaim I do, I will also share that life and love with those who have yet to encounter him.  Relating Jesus to others is the natural outflow of being in His presence and His being in my life.

5. Witness as a life style versus evangelism as a crusade.  We are all called to bear witness of Christ.  If we prayed for divine appointments and we accurately heard the voice of the Spirit in us, we would see the opportunities that the Father brings to us to bear witness of Christ in our lives to others.  We bear witness in how we live and how we deal with everyday occurrences, trials, and affliction and temptations.  How we live speaks volumes compared to how we "speak" to others.  Francis of Assisi once said, "Live the gospel, and if you must, then speak."  This is the truth and the essence of living in the world.  Our lives must bear the fruit of who we are.  Our lives bear witness to where our affections lie.  We bear witness 24 hours a day.  It is our lives and who we are. 

Many view personal evangelism much as a crusade, as a daily event in their lives.  These people have compartmentalized who they are into activities.  Jesus Christ is after hearts, not after what people can do or activities.  He wants to capture hearts, our hearts.  This is why evangelism and being a witness flows out of relationship, not religious duty or activities.  Jesus wants to reach out to others through our daily lives and build relationships with others, not simply "notch" them on our six gun and move on to the next one!

6. Go home and wrestle with God versus the quick response.  The Puritans and America has produced a few of notable stature, like Jonathan Edwards, always emphasized telling people to go home and wrestle with God with what they had heard.  It does not matter which Puritan you read or what sermon you read, you will see a pattern of presenting clear biblical truth with  the challenge to search out our own hearts, and to lay ourselves bare before the Lord,   It was to be a time of sober reflection and wrestling, and coming to terms with what the Holy Spirit was exposing, and it was usually a difficult time for the person going through it.  Read the conversions of Edwards, and the conversion of Oliver Cromwell and you will get an eyeful of what it meant to see your own desperate need of God and His mercy and how He provided His mercy and grace for your salvation.

I have used this "method" quite often.  I deplore easy believism for it bears little fruit.  In the heat of emotional manipulation and coercion, a person mumbles a few words, shares a few tears, and presto!  Instant Christian!  I have challenged people to go home and to wrestle with what was shared, and I give them my phone number, and I follow up on them in a week or so.  If they have not made contact I try to connect periodically and talk some more.  I work on building the relationship.  They need evidence of what it is be live the life.  They also need the reality of what that life is like in adversity.  I really cannot stand the "Come to Jesus and all your problems will go away!" frame of mind.  It is a lie from the pit of hell!  It is used so carelessly and flippantly.  When I came to Christ, my hellish life became even worse!  The struggle with sin and holiness and temptation was horrific.  The only! ! thing that kept me going was the sense that God was in the midst of all of it and was helping me deal with the mess in my life.  I obeyed and trusted what I read in the Bible, and I saw little by little evidence that I was changing.  It was a living hell going through change down deep in my inner man, but I knew I was not alone.  We need to go back to the very essence of the gospel and we need to teach it soundly through how we live and relate with one another and those in our society.  Only then will we really see change in the easy believism that is rampant in our day.

7. Friendship for the sake of relationship versus friendship as a means to an end.  I remember taking an evangelism course, and we were using Joe Aldrich's book, Friendship Evangelism.  There were some good things in there, but the disturbing effect of one of his beliefs made a lasting impression.  He spoke of building relationships with people and then having them over to your house, or you go to theirs, or you go to events/activities together, so that you can "witness to them."  I saw the fruit of what he taught.  I know people who belong to fitness clubs and other "clubs" in town, and their only goal is to "win people to Christ".  And as so they invest their lives in these people over a period of weeks and months, and as soon as they "close the deal" and see the person converted, they move on to the next "project", another person in the club!  There have been some devastating results of this kind of approach.  Wemust keep in rel! ! ationship with those whom the Lord draws near to us and brings into His kingdom, and we must disciple and nurture them and introduce them to biblical body life as soon as people.  We need to stay connected in a relational way with them.  People are not "projects"!  They are the very image of God and we need to honour and prefer them  and continue to sustain the relationship we have with them as they pursue their walk with the Lord.

Blessings,

Sam

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Date: Tue, 10 Jul 2001 16:18:17 -0700 From: "George Patterson"

Subject: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Helping Westerners appreciate how God works through networks to evangelize.

Hi Dan, I do the following role play in workshops to put this point across.

1. Ask "convert" to stand and build his "circle" around him. Ask him who his mother and father are, and have them stand by him, then who his drinking buddy is, and his Friday night girlfriend, etc. until you have about 6 people. Have them join hands and form a circle around the convert, in the center.

2. Demonstrate the typical Western individualistic approach. Tell the convert you're glad he wants to follow Christ but you worry about the "bad" people surrounding him. You suddenly break into the circle (force their hands apart) and jerk the convert out of it, taking him to one side. Assure him there that he will have all new friends now, and be sheltered from those 'bad people.'

3. Explain that hundreds of converts have died needlessly because of the hostility this breeds. (I did this to my first convert in Honduras and they put him to death the day after I baptized him, with machetes). Ask what command of Jesus it violates (love). Explain that we make disciples by teaching them to obey His commands (Matt. 28:18-20) not by breaking them.

4. Put the convert back in the circle and ask the group to tell you how to do it right. They should mention such things as get in the circle (as Jesus did with all those sinners He ate and drank with in Zaccheus' house, also with Levi the tax collector). Ask the convert to show love for his family and friends, forgive them; ask their forgiveness; let the Holy Spirit work through the convert. Don't see him as an isolated individual; see him as God does. Connect with the father if possible, don't be sneaky). If the convert is on drugs or is alcoholic, you'd separate him only from those friends who'd help his habit but not the rest. If they need help, ask them how it happened with Cornelius, Lydia, the Philippian jailer and Crispus, in the book of Acts.

I hope this is helpful.

George

- -----Original Message----- From: Dan Beaty To: ntchurch planter Date: Saturday, July 07, 2001 8:35 AM

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Evangelism of individuals vs. families or networks

George,

Thanks for the helpful response to my question. Maybe you could help me some more. You wrote:

<<Few Western missionaries can truly apply Acts 16:31 and promise a converted head of a family that his folks will also be saved. People movements are built on this dynamic, however. This is why so many Western evangelists actually stifle people movements by introducing the individualistic mentality into them.

Also,

<<Abraham's saving faith in Genesis was focused on God's blessings reaching all nations through his seed. He believed that these recipients of God's blessings would be as numerous as the stars, and that was the belief that God counted for righteousness, and upon which promise the New Testament rests. Most Western evangelism, however, sees God's grace flowing into one individual, then stopping there.

The individualistic mindset has proven to be a tremendous obstacle to our work in Columbus. Do you have any suggestions as to how to overcome these obstacles? Being strongly individualistic myself, I have found that serious dealings of God have been necessary to break me free from it.

Dan Beaty Columbus, Ohio USA

http://www.livingtruth.com

 

The End of New Testament Church Proliferation Digest V1 #30

 




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