Thursday, May 29, 2008

New Attitude and Evangelism

I'm back from New Attitude, a cleverly-advertised conference that has slogans like "Forget Reinvention; Save the Wheel," and "I *whale* New Attitude," or "Yes, na." My mom asked what were the shapes on my wristband. They were letters: almost shapeless letters.

The conference had dozens of insights and applications that I may or may not share. The one I thought about today at work was evangelism. God always talks to me about evangelism. And I don't know how to respond. What about gender roles? Should I be at work? Work is where I know people who aren't saved. But I don't really talk to them about the gospel - or anything else. How do I start a conversation at work? Is it appropriate? What about outside of work? Should I witness to little kids or to women, or is it good to tell men, too? Should I be sharing with every person, or wait for those special and obvious opportunities?

Why do I have to do it alone? Do I?

Searching for answers in the Bible, I wondered about the early Christians. The women were taught to be keepers at home, which shuts down access to non-Christians beyond your household. But there was food that needed to be acquired. Did they talk to their grocers? If you're a farmer, male or female, you probably spend entire days alone. So you're not spending your whole life evangelizing. Is that an excuse or a motivation for someone like me?

CJ Mahaney preached one night about talking to yourself. He said it's good as long as you're intentional about telling yourself true things, like God's promises, and what God's done for you. One way to do this is to sing Christian/true/worship/Scripture-based songs. So at work over lunch I listened to some of RC Sproul Jr's (and the Highlands Study Center's) Basement Tapes. On the way to and from work I listened to a Michael Card tape I have in my car. About a decade ago he wrote the official song for that year's National Day of Prayer. "If my people will humbly pray, and seek My face and turn away from all their wicked ways, then I will hear them and move my hand, and freely then will I forgive, and I will heal their land."

Near the end, the prayer-song continues, "Grant us hope that we might see a future for the land we love: our life, our liberty." I was driving on a boring American road with fences and cement sidewalks, a few trees that were artificially located there. The politics are less than hopeful to me. I didn't mind visiting Kentucky, and Chicago is my climactic and cultural home away from home, but the only hopeful and redeeming and loved thing about this country to me is the people. I wonder how much longer the rest of it will last.

That's one of the things that contributes to my evangelism angst. America is so lost, and as much as someone who barely talks about God to people can judge, fairly closed to the gospel. I want to change the world (and be in community with those who change the world), but I don't know how. We watched a video about the Bible shortage in Uganda. In a congregation of 210, there were ten Bibles. Everyone was eager for a Bible, desperate to hear even one verse read. Those with Bibles handed them off to unsaved neighbors who read it and got saved themselves. Does that work here?

I have a friend who is planting a church. His family is a missionary family to Denver, Colorado. They've studied the Bible and decided that the way to plant a church is to live out and preach the gospel in their neighborhood as they go. I'm afraid or shy or lazy or doubtful, because I don't see my neighbors as that open. The questions come back: how many neighbors does it take to obey? I only have to talk to one at a time. And don't I care?

Amy of Humble Musing Fame writes about different callings, and her life. She wants to raise her kids in a safer, less worldly place. Is that wrong? she wonders. Her answer is that she's doing this out of faith, following what God has called her to do: raise a big family and blog and support her husband and talk to checkers in the supermarkets. I hope, at least, that my calling is different. Like I said, I want to change the world.

It's so much easier to love the apparently more-open people groups in Uganda, or in the Middle East where there is a hunger for the Bible and the gospel. Does that mean I should go there? Or should I do hard things? Should I evangelize Denver? Or should I meet my neighbors?

The comforting, answer-part of the New Attitude weekend was its focus on and faith in the Bible. The messages convicted me that if I were reading, studying, memorizing, and meditating on the Bible more, I wouldn't be worried about all these questions. My next step would be evident and my faith would be ok with knowing just that. The answers would come up, and I would be peaceful. My suspicion is that prioritizing Scripture would also make me a ready and passionate evangelist.

So here's what I'm doing: memorizing Psalm 37, and reading Genesis (along with Henry Morris's The Genesis Record, I think). We Christians, we've generally been let off the hook, bribed into daily devotions by the dangling offer of "all it takes is ten minutes a day." I have a feeling that is the wrong perspective. From my own personal experience I know I waste way too much time, and that I am more peaceful, obedient, and close to God if I spend more time intentionally studying His Word. Pray for me. Join me. See if it makes a difference in my blogging.

To God be all glory.

2 comments:

kschaub said...

Lisa, I am glad you got to go to the conference. I hope you learned a few things about evangelism. Anyway, I think conferences that teach us about this sort of thing helps us understand what we are called to do as believers.

Have a great week.

Kevin

Lisa of Longbourn said...

The conference was more about the Bible than evangelism. There's so much more to say. But that's one of the things God wants to get through to me.

Kevin, Have a great two weeks - and beyond. Happy day.
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn