Just for fun, I’ve addressed the disagreements raised by cafeaddict on my last post (Who, by the way, is challenging my post just for the sake of argument. He/she mentions that they actually agree with my post). If only cafeaddict could find the shift button for capitalization…
stepchild, since you no longer have any dissenters on your blog, (By the way, I have noticed that, and I intend to find some traditional thinkers and poke them with a stick or something in order to incite some kind of discussion. Maybe another post about alcohol…) i am going to play the devil's advocate althougth i TOTALLY agree with you... (Here’s hoping people read this disclaimer!)
relational evangelism will never accomplish the task. The task cannot be (and was never meant to be) “accomplished,” “completed,” or otherwise, “finished.” The “task” (and I do hate that word) is a call to obedience, which entails making disciples, preaching the gospel, loving people, and worshipping with our lives.
it is too slow. If, in our rush, we get ahead of God, our work is in vein. god didn't call us to make friends, he called us to make disciples. The teacher/disciple relationship is just that- a relationship. Have you considered that Jesus spent lots and lots of time with twelve guys over the course of three years? do you honestly think that every person jesus encountered was his best friend? No, and I’m not talking about becoming best friends with everyone. That would be time consuming, tiring, and get really expensive around Christmas time. he taught people sometimes for a day, sometimes for a minute and then moved on. he sensed those who were spiritually receptive and targeted them. Yeah, I’m not sure about this one. What qualifies a person as “spiritually receptive?” For me, anyone who would want to spend time with a foreigner who’s always talking about Jesus is obviously receptive to some extent. Did Jesus really “target” the seekers (or anyone, for that matter)? he didn't waste time with the rich young ruler. he gave him a choice and when the money loving guy chose his riches, jesus chose another subject. Yeah, the RYR walked away. But what if he hadn’t? What do you suppose Jesus would have done if the guy had continued to follow Jesus around?
all you postmodern people say that everything is about relationships. you site jesus as your example, yet when i examine the evangelism techniques of jesus, they reflect the "street evangelism" approach more than your "i just don't want to take a chance and offend someone" approach. I’m not sure Jesus used any “techniques.” It does seem to me that he was relational and personal with people, though. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were Jesus’ friends. The disciples certainly had profound relationships with Jesus, even Judas. Have you ever noticed how many different answers Jesus gave to the question, “What must I do to receive eternal life?” He met people where they were, and for me to do that, I have to get to know them.
As for offending people, I’m all for it. The Gospel is, after all, offensive. I’m just not convinced that people are being offended with truth very much these days, especially in Western Europe. It seems that they’re being offended by other things, such as the attitudes of the messenger, and way that the “message” is being delivered. Prepared, pre-packaged evangelism seems powerless and trite to the people I know here, and it seems that way to me, too. When Jesus addressed people, it’s obvious to me that in that moment, during that encounter, they felt like the most important people in the world. That’s what I’m going for in relational ministry. No just to tell people that they’re loved, but to show them as well.
i get tired of hearing you guys say that it isn't right to get into relationship with someone just to share the gospel with them, as if doing that were underhanded. well, i will have you know, that the most loving thing we can do is share the gospel with people. The problem is the conditionality of a relationship that is built on expectations. Anytime there are ulterior motives, the relationship is less than authentic. “I’m your friend and I want you to know the Lord” is different from “I’m your friend because I want you to know the Lord.” Unfortunately, the world knows Christians as “I won’t be your friend unless you come to know the Lord.” so the more people i meet with the objective of sharing the gospel, the more loving i am. how can it be a bad thing that i want as many people as possible to be in heaven with me? Wanting people to go to heaven is a good thing, but it’s hardly the goal of evangelism. The goal is reconciliation with the Creator. My problem with the idea of just “getting the word out” is that the Gospel is more than just information. If you’re just wanting to preach the truth, nevermind the context or people, you might just as well broadcast it live over the radio and go home. Add to that the idea that here in Western Europe, we’re not just introducing Christianity, we’re reintroducing it to an emerging culture.
we have so little time and our task is so enormous. The “task” is not overwhelming for God, is it? Will He return before His perfect timing? Woe to the people who’s eternity depends on you and me! we need to be telling people about jesus not going to the movies with them. Going to the movies with people is a great way to tell them about Jesus. A discussion afterward can provide excellent opportunities to share the Gospel explicitly, and to comment on the movie from Christ’s perspective. relational evangelism in my opinion is a cop out. As “drive by” evangelism is in my opinion. It’s much easier to “preach” a message and move on than it is to invest in relationships. we don't want to do the hard stuff so we justify our disobedience with the fluffy relational excuse. The hard stuff? Passing out tracts is easy compared to long conversations in smoky bars at three in the morning. Going to parties, getting involved in people’s lives, trying to be a viable example of what life in Christ might look like for the people around us, that’s difficult.
what say you stepchild? That say I. Thanks, cafeaddict, for being the lone voice of dissent on this otherwise boring and unnecessary blog.