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04/06/2010 / John Hanna

It’s not rocket science.

This is what Peter Bolt says about ‘pre-evangelism’ in an article entitled ‘The problem with pre-evangelism’ in this month’s copy of The Briefing:

Please note: I’ve added emphasis to part of the second last paragraph of this article which challenged me greatly. For more info about The Briefing and The Good Book Company see below.

I have never really been 100 per cent behind the ‘point of contact” view of evangelism.

Now I suppose nobody really cares that one solitary individual can’t give the 100 per cent nod to this kind of enterprise. As I look around and listen, it seems that more are urging the expediency or even necessity of this kind of approach. With all the hand-wringing in our major denominations about declining numbers (induding in my own), we are being urged to find fresh expressions of church (which I am not necessarily opposed to) —as if it is our venues or times or styles that are problematic (which I seriously wonder about). The urge to be ‘culturally relevant’ is now heard about as frequently as John 3:16 (perhaps it has become John 3:16), and is often theologically attached to that famous verse with some kind of ham-fisted ‘theology” that speaks of us having to ‘incarnate’ the gospel. (Even if the Son of God’s action was not absolutely unique, how can we do that? We are already ‘carna’—flesh—so how can we become flesh all over again?) Then there are those good old long-serving slogans: “You have to earn the right to evangelize”; “You have to build bridges before you cross them”; “You have to be in relationship”, and the like.

The problems are many. Everyone wants to become the culturally sensitive guru, and thus a new kind of priesthood develops. For those who don’t reach these heights, discouragement! Everyone focuses on their fresh expressions, thus siphoning off energy from the task of telling people

about Jesus. Everyone gets to building bridges, seeking common ground, learning more and more about the culture around us—which is all an absorbing process. And since this kind of enterprise is really nothing new, we already have plenty (more than plenty) of evidence that although ‘pre-evangelism’ perhaps has a place in the scheme of things, when it takes over, it leaves good-hearted Christian people overworked, exhausted and frustrated from never really seeing any results for all their efforts. After all, ‘pre-evangelism’ is never’evangelism’.

It is a very different picture to the simplicity presented to us in the New Testament. The power of God is not in our efforts, our cultural sensitivity, our brilliant relationship-building powers or our anything! It lies clearly and firmly in one place: the gospel (Rom 1:16). Our task then becomes quite dean We believe, therefore we speak (see 2 Cor 4:13). The ‘ethos’ in which we speak is also clear we speak the truth in love.

It is also funny how desperately we long for a ‘point of contact—as if that is also far from dear. Isn’t the ‘common ground’ told to us by the gospel, and isn’t it already plain? People are human beings; there is a creator. People are sinners; there is a saviour. People are guilty; there is forgiveness. People are dying; there is eternal life. People are frightened about the future; there is the kingdom of God coming soon. It’s not rocket science. (emphasis added)

The hard bit is introducing yourself to your neighbour and opening your mouth to ask whether they want to hear some really good news that once turned the world upside down, and is about to do so again.

~ Peter Bolt

‘Reproduced from The Briefing. © Matthias Media Used by Permission. All rights reserved.’

The Briefing / Who are we?

The Briefing is published by Matthias Media in Australia and The Good Book Company in the UK. We are evangelical non-denominational organisations, aiming to provide the Christian community with resources of a uniformly high standard — both in their biblical faithfulness and in the quality of the writing and production. The Briefing is one such resource, but we produce numerous others, including a wide range of Bible studies, evangelistic tools, training courses, Bible-reading aids, books, and audio and video resources.

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