Tag Archive: evangelism

a number of the simple way staff and residents are currently at the Christian Community Development Association [CCDA] conference in Minnesota which started last nite and is set to be an incredible time and i’m sure i will share a little bit about that here.

last nite, Richard Twiss, a native american leader [who also spoke some challenging things last year which i think in part led to this year’s theme being ‘Reconcile’] started off proceedings with a simple challenge:

“The original followers of Jesus didn’t quote books and verses – they told stories.” In fact the early Christians for many years told stories and it was only much later that the stories were put together and approved as the canon that it became about John 3.16 and Romans 8. Before then they simply recounted stories.

i think most of us find evangelism tough… but we all have stories… if you are a Jesus follower and don’t have any stories then you really have to question your Jesus following… but if you do [and i’ll bet you do] then maybe this is a way that will free you up from the pressure of evangelism or discipling or any other of those large christianese words…

simply tell your story more… and tell His stories more… and especially share the space where His story intersects with yours…

if His story was great enough to affect yours in the way it hopefully has, then it is great enough to affect someone else, and possibly a whole lot less daunting…

so go on and tell it [mountain optional]

busy reading ‘Exiles: Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture’ by Michael Frost and have little bits of paper and elastoplasts stuck within the pages where i really thort it was profound or spot on (if it was my book it would be folded pages but it’s not – it belongs to the theological library of stellenbosch which has absolutely no relevance so shut up already) and this was one of those pages:

From the chapter titled ‘Following Jesus into Exile’

‘Jesus humility is commended to us insofar as it is expressed in His commitments to identification and relinquishment. First, to follow Jesus’ example means that we should share His profoundly humble identification with sinful mankind (Phil 2.7b-8a). Second, those of us who wish to emulate Jesus should be aware of His equally humble willingness to empty Himself and make Himself nothing for the sake of God’s redemptive purposes (Phil 2.6-7a). The greatest example of both is His humiliating death on the cross (Phil 2.8b). To embrace an incarnational ministry, then, involves a willingness to relinquish our own desires and interests in the service of others. Of course, our suffering doesn’t atone for the sins of others, as Christ’s did, but our self-emptying or sacrificial love will direct people to the higher and more efficacious sacrifice of Christ. The exile will be called to also suffer, relinquishing wealth, worldly power, and position. Pity, condescension, or paternalism misses the mark; only a compassion that acts is acceptable in incarnational ministry. Thus, following Jesus’ example, incarnational Christian witness will include the following four aspects:

[1] An active sharing of life, participating in the fears, frustrations, and afflictions of the host community. The prayer of the exile should be, “Lord, let Your mind be in me,” for no witness is capable of incarnationality without the mind of Jesus.

[2] An employment of the language and thought forms of those with whom we seek to share Jesus. After all, He used common speech and stories: salt, light, fruit, birds, and the like. He seldom used theological or religious jargon or technical terms.

[3] A preparedness to go to the people, not expecting them to come to us. As Jesus came from the heavens to humanity, we enter into the “tribal” realities of human society.

[4] A confidence that the gospel can be communicated by ordinary means, through acts of servanthood, loving relationships, good deeds; in this way the exile becomes an extension of the incarnation in our time. Deeds thus create words.

So, if we take the incarnation seriously, we must take seriously the call to live incarnationally – right up close, near to those whom God desires to redeem. We cannot demonstrate Christlikeness at a distance from those whom we feel called to serve. We need to get close enough to people that our lives rub up against their lives, and that they see the incarnated Christ in our values, beliefs, and practices as expressed in cultural forms that make sense and convey impact.

When one theologian emailed me about what he believed to be my inappropriate use of the term “incarnational,” I replied by asking him what term he would use to describe the biblical, Christian impulse to draw near to those who didn’t know Christ, and for him to give me examples of how he did this in his own life and ministry. He didn’t reply. I’ve come to discover that there is a whole world of professional Christians who live primarily in the church or the Christian academy, and who determine what is the so-called true and proper terminology or the correct biblical procedure for mission, but who never seem to embody the ideas that they describe. On the other hand, there are theologically untrained people who are reading the Bible and intuiting new ways to create proximity with not-yet-Christians. These exiles often don’t feel appreciated or understood by the conventional church. They have been marginalised by their other Christian friends who thought their ideas or lifestyle too radical or too unsafe to accommodate. But they are on to something, and in their unorthodox practice reside the seeds of the survival of the Christian movement.’

i really really really like that, especially the four numbered points and the truth in this last paragraph… deeds thus create words. Mm. Yum

‘…and the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.’ [Acts 2.47b]

what comes just before the ‘and’ of that passage that caused such huge growth in the early church? was it their amazing evangelism plans or ABC steps of getting people to follow Jesus?

none of the above! it was meeting together, eating together, loving God and loving people together – basically just being church – listening to preaching, seeing miracles happening, sharing of ‘their stuff’ so that no-one actually had stuff but certainly so that no-one had no stuff. celebrating God.

thru just being what church was meant to be – active, living, loving followers of Jesus – the church grew.

people were drawn to the church in Acts cos of love. these days, too often, one of the main reasons why people leave the church or avoid it is the lack of love.

that is a horrible thing. do better church! [and yes, i am part of that.]

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” [Jesus, book of John 13.34-35]

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