Plastic Evangelism

Do not let the title mislead you, the rest of the title should be: A Call to Return to Organic Christian Experience as Evangelism. I fully am behind any sort of evangelism. I have pastored a church here and there for most of my life. I have attended a seminar/workshop or two about church planting, evangelism, church growth, etc. I have invested my time, energy and money in church evangelism. Did my church grow? Not really. I did get seriously burned out to the point of major depression. That is another blog though.

So what am I trying to say with this blog? What I am trying to say is that Biblical evangelism may be more intrinsic, more about the character and quality of the believer’s everyday life than about programs churches have constructed for the purpose of evangelism. For instance, a brief google search of evangelism ministry for churches produced a cookie cutter response. Results included: student ministry, radio/television ministry, tracts, prayer outreaches, upgraded children ministry and worship ministry and the like. Notice these are all programs, a man made construct for the purpose of evangelism. These are all ministries that we choose to participate in that is over and above, or in addition to everyday Christian life. The underlying assumption, I think, is that one must participate in a program of evangelism as the primary mode of evangelism. One does not have to live out the program, just attend, then leave. We call this evangelistic ministry.

I applaud these efforts but….

I believe the greatest evangelism or primary mode of evangelism is more organic, more a fruit of the Spirit within the believer’s life that adorns their words of the gospel of grace. I am specifically referring to the type of evangelism Peter is referring to in his first letter. Notice in chapter 2 and 3 Peter talks about evangelism several times. Each instance evangelism is connected with the ordinary flow and ebb of the believer’s life. He specifically says evangelism is enduring mistreatment as a believer and not retaliating. Suffering wrongfully yet giving one’s persecutors no reason to speak evil of the believer. The next example is that wives and husbands are to function in their respective callings toward one another for the purpose of being an example of Christ and His church and to win an unbelieving spouse through holy conduct. Each example of evangelism is simply an outflow of the believer’s transforming life through the spirit. No program, no ministry, simply living out a holy life for God.

This is what I mean by organic and intrinsic evangelism. Evangelism that is rooted in the power of a transformed life, lived in service to God in the context of marriage, family, work and being a neighbor. Programs are more plastic. The flaw within them is that the hypocrite can thrive and flourish within the church program. Easy, just put on your religious face and go tell people about Jesus. But, when one gets home, faces the hardships of a difficult marriage or the trials of suffering in silence from family persecution this is when the hypocrite will be revealed. However, if one yet remains sweet, forgiving, compassionate, and submissive then God commends this behavior as evangelistic. The wicked watch the believers. They are keenly observant and can sniff out hypocrisy. Program evangelism is good, but real life, gritty, organic, normal Christian experience is better. This type of evangelism is where hypocrisy cannot exist. This is where the gospel can make dramatic inroads. This is First Peter evangelism. This is Biblical evangelism.

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