Sunday, July 15, 2007

Shaping of Things to Come Part 5

From page 41 of The Shaping of Things to Come: “The church bids people to come and hear the gospel in the holy confines of the church and its community. This seems so natural to us after seventeen centuries of Christendom, but at what price and to what avail have we allowed it to continue? If our actions imply that God is really only present in official church activities…”

This reminds me of St. Elmo and Edna. St. Elmo had rejected church as representing all that betrayed him as well as all he was before. But though he knew Edna was religious, he was curious enough to, on a touch-and-go investigational basis, pay attention to her. The fact that she lived her faith in everything is what won him. Her religion wasn’t just a set of phony rules. When he became convinced of her faithfulness, then was St. Elmo willing to enter a church and submit to instruction from a pastor. The church could never have reached him, for no amount of inviting and prodding ever got him there. He was set against it until he changed.

Along the same lines, [in traditional churches,] “Evangelism therefore is primarily about mobilizing church members to attract unbelievers into church where they can experience God.” Exactly. This is what frustrates me about “evangelism” at my church. They either go do a mission trip in which they participate only in the first stages of a more incarnational ministry, or they are door-to-door tract-givers. (In fact there are businesses that will, for a price, mail tracts to people in your area in your church's name.) The average Christian is admonished in church to share their faith, which they happily interpret as inviting a person each year to church and being a good person.

The Shaping of Things to Come - and the Bible - advocate not "sharing your faith," but "preaching the gospel" and "making disciples." "Preach the word." "Always be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you."

To God be all glory.

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