I recently wrote a blog post titled, “Post-Modernism is Dead…Wait…What?“ In it I raised four points.
- We need to learn how to use technology within a theological context,
- We need to be evangelicals within this new context,
- We need to be a non-anxious presence in our communities, and
- We need to teach critical analysis of all things spiritual and religious.
Last week I followed up #1 here. This is a follow up to #2.
What is evangelism? One would think that our churches have well-defined evangelism since it seems to be a term especially used for the church. But we have had a back-lash against evangelism and most view evangelism with suspicion. Folks tend to think an evangelist is those crazy pastors on television who jump about and lay hands on people and then someone passes out on the floor. Or it is someone who hounds you with the message that we must choose to follow Jesus or burn in the pits of hell. The post-modern / pseudo modern person (including me) looks upon this with suspicion. The result? A distancing from evangelism. We say, “I’m not an evangelist!”
Recently I was at a meeting and someone said, “You seem to have developed relationships with fundamental, evangelical churches. How will they feel if they know you are also in relationship with us?” My response was, “First, I am not giving up evangelical to them. I am an evangelist.” (And second, these organizations really don’t care…they don’t spend a lot of time worrying about who I hang out with! How ego-centric. Grin.). So, really, in a post-modern context, what is evangelism and how can we tackle this maligned label?
In Greek, evangelism comes from εὐαγγέλιον . (I am hoping the Greek characters are showing up here.) This is in Christian Scripture and literally comes from εὔ = “good”, ἀγγέλλω = “I bring a message.” “I bring a good message.” It also comes from the four Gospels, i.e., “The Gospel of Mark the Evangelist.” So it is about bringing a good message. That’s the Gospel! The good news. What that means to you is…?…well…you need to complete that sentence for yourself. And that’s the post/pseudo modern part of it. In this age we get to deconstruct traditional meanings of words. Now we can:
- Rediscover the meaning of the word (I have a good message.)
- Bring it forward to make new meaning in our world
- Reclaim the word for our usage today
So, how can you complete this sentence?
I am an evangelist. I bring a good message by ____________________ .
Hmm. I would say the good news is straight forwardly communicated by Jesus himself. What is most important?
28 One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, ‘Which commandment is the first of all?’29Jesus answered, ‘The first is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one;30you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.”31The second is this, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’32Then the scribe said to him, ‘You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that “he is one, and besides him there is no other”;33and “to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength”, and “to love one’s neighbour as oneself”,—this is much more important than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices.’34When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ Mark 12:28-34
I am an evangelist. I bring a good message by loving others and by loving myself. I do this by ____________________ .
Regarding the intersection of technology / communication and evangelism, it isn’t really that difficult. If we develop our mission, value, and vision and clearly stay within that confine no matter what technology of communication we are using, then we are using technology to do evangelism.
Mission: ____________________ .
Value: Love God & Love Neighbor & Love Self
Vision: ____________________ .
This will naturally look different for different people and organizations! But it is the good news.
Go forth! Reclaim the good message and be an evanglist!