Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Destination Transformation: ENGAGE

This is the third part of a blog series where I unpack TCOC's approach to spiritual formation

Enagage the Unchurched
Connect to Christ
Connect to Others

I spent earlier posts (Here and Here) highlighting the aim of the gospel: TRANSFORMATION. Some people call it discipleship, others sanctification and still others redemption. In the end, Jesus came to change you and the world. As a Christian, I believe transformation begins and ends with Jesus. Therefore, TCOC's spiritual formation model begins with engaging the unchurched with the good news of Jesus. Technically...Evangelism!

Evangelism! Seems today it has more in common with force-feeding or hogtying than sharing "good news!" It tends to conjure up images of street-preachers spewing condemnation and judgement or pesky little souls ringing your doorbell on Sunday afternoon when you just want to watch football, "If you died today would you go to heaven or hell?" picture those Christians who treat evangelism as a sport, as if angels are eying you for a first-round draft pick in Fantasy Evangelism, "Bob would be a great pick! He had 32 conversions last year!"

Although these disastrous approaches and self-centered motivations have turned evangelism into a lame pick-up line at best and made many churches evangeliscally gun-shy, the root meaning of evangelism is simply "the act of proclaiming good news." There is no better news than to whisper in the world's ear, "I know someone who makes dead things alive again!" Such a message peeks the interest of all mortal creatures, and the Church carries this balm in her lungs! Why wouldn't churches share the "good news?" Not only is it logical and ethical to share "good news," but Jesus commands the Church to do so. In Acts 1, as Jesus prepares to return to the Father, he speaks these last words to his followers:
" will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

Witnesses testify to what they have seen and experienced, and in this particular instance Jesus calls the Church to testify to a Risen Christ...good news indeed! Popular or not, Jesus commands the church to engage the unchurched and he promises to equip us with power to accomplish such a task. Yes, evangelism should flow naturally out of a deepening relationship with God, but at the same time Churches should intentionally and strategically engage the unchurched. Luke-Acts depicts the Godhead as a strategic and intentional evangelist.  In my next post, I will use sections of Luke-Acts to highlight four keys to engaging the unchurched.

But before we explore the keys to engagement, we must ask ourselves, "Does our church take evangelism seriously? Do we see it as necessary? Do we see it as a command? Are we being intentional and strategic in engaging the unchurched in our area?"

Sometimes Christians get nervous when we talk about evangelism because of past abuse, but let's not throw the baby out just because the bath water has gotten cold.  Let's change the bath water! Our past failures (Thank you, Crusades!) do not exempt us from a tremendous responsibility to share the good news! Let's reassess our approach. We learn from Christ engaging the unchurched is not about "power over," coercion, or force. It's about sharing and living Hope..."Practicing Resurrection." It is never US vs THEM. It is always US for THEM! We engage the unchurched not as the un-compassionate Borg assimilating everything in its path, but rather as the body of Christ laying down her life on behalf of the world.

I have some good news...would you like to hear it?

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