18 May 2011

Evangelism reshaped.

The following is an article written by David Fitch that I have summarized a bit so that you can digest it.

Over the years now, I’ve come to understand the important task of nurturing communities into missional and communal rhythms. We must resist the churches desire “to do something!!” and instead cultivate missional rhythms among our people’s lives together for God’s Kingdom. I think pastors need to walk along with and among people being a “missional therapist” helping people imagine God at work in and around their daily lives. Along the way, they lead by consistently (and kindly) rejecting some old habits and directing the imagination towards other possibilities. This is the never-ending work of cultivating missional and community based habits among people. Here’s my list of what to reject (slowly retire) and what to direct (nudge forward) a churches imagination toward.

1.) Kindly Reject doing Outreach Events.
Instead direct imagination towards ways of connecting with people where they are. Outreach events take up much time, planning and enormous “congregational capital” (if I may put it that way). In post Christendom outreach events rarely “work.” And you simply cannot compete with the local Park District or Megachurch event planning neutral site events. Instead, with little effort or cost, direct the people’s imagination towards seeing the ways you can connect with people in their everyday situations by going to the same place at the same time every day. This has personally revolutionized my missional life.

2.) Kindly Reject evangelism as a one time hit on a target with a preconceived outcome. Nurture imagination toward seeing mission as part of regular daily, weekly and monthly life rhythms where out of regular life God works to use your generosity and sacrifice to connect people with the gospel in unforeseen ways. There is no precision strike technique, instead we need to train our eyes to pay attention to our life rhythms and be ready to minister out of everyday life, where God is making relational opportunities available.

3.) Kindly reject building multiple use buildings
as if by building a killer facility on the church campus we can bring people into the orbit of the church. We should build less structures, and inhabit more the ones already out there in our towns and citties.

4.) Kindly reject one-on-one evangelism and the techniques associated with such apologetic persuasion. Instead direct imagination for inhabiting places in two’s or three’s or more. Hospitals, the school systems, the park districts and places of hurt and pain too numerous to mention are all places where there are forces at work that can take under any one isolated Christian. But two or three Christians together become an undeniable force for the kingdom under the rule and leadership of Jesus.

5.) Kindly reject the Sunday morning gathering as an evangelistic event for it cannot be that in the new post Christendom cultures. Instead fire up imagination for communal gatherings that love others and love Jesus. It is simple, organic, takes a lot less planning than a mega show, and alot less money. And if any non-believers do happen to come, they won’t confuse this with a Tony Robbins event.

6.) Kindly reject coercive persuasion and argument in our witness
. Instead stoke the imagination of your people for seeking “one person of peace” (Luke 10) among the lost of their neighborhoods. Look for that one who, though never having heard the gospel, is dispositionally ready (been readied by God) to receive.

7.) Kindly reject postures of power
as we live our lives among those who do not yet know Christ. Instead direct the imagination towards the way Jesus always enters the human situation in humility. So don’t come to your neighbors as the one with all the answer. Come to your neighbors humbly and actively listening. Instead offering them a meal, find ways to participate in a meal with them. If you’re in the suburbs ask them if you can borrow their lawnmower.

8.) Kindly Reject problem solving
– instead direct the imagination towards “appreciative inquiry.” We often approach church and the world through problem solving. What is wrong with our programs? What needs are we not meeting? What are we not doing right? This is negative, mechanical and lifeless. Instead, let’s direct our community’s imagination to noticing where God is working among us and around us, to recognize it, and jump it. We need to be adaptable people to join God in the spaces He opens up for us to minister effectively.

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