Category Archives: Outreach

Because The Cross Was Made Of Dogwood – Thoughts On Evangelism, Part 6

Sorry for the brief hiatus in this series. My oldest son graduated from high school this week, so my schedule was fairly full, as was my house. But we’re back at it now, so jump in the conversation.

When I think about churches and their evangelism programs, I often find myself asking ‘what are we evangelizing them to?’. Many of the churches I’ve been a part of do not have a solid answer for that question. When they talk about evangelism, they speak of technique, programs, and methodology. They spend very little time, however, on discussing what an evangelized person will look like that is different than what they are now.

In his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey states that habit #2 is ‘begin with the end in mind’. If you don’t know what the end is going to look like, how will you ever be effective in pursuing it. This applies for evangelism as much as anything else. Without knowing what the finished product looks like, how can we ever hope to achieve it.

I believe this lack of focus on the finished product has created some problems for us. First, I think it has facilitated the hyper focus that Churches of Christ have on baptism. Baptism is very important, but it is only one of many important things in the conversion process. Since it is tangible… the only tangible part of evangelism as we usually frame it, we focus on that as the goal of our efforts. When we get a new convert into the water, most churches treat it as the end of the road for evangelism. They are then expected to get in the flow of things as a member of the church and pick stuff up as they go.

The second challenge the lack of a vision of an evangelized person has caused us is that we’ve turned discipleship into something weak and easy. When reading through scripture, I am overcome with the power of the concepts of ‘lordship’ and ‘surrender’. As a disciple, I’m supposed to live every minute of every day trying to fulfill God’s will on earth. How many of us really do that? How many of us can say we’ve grown spiritually in the last year? Two years? More?

From the time I was a child, I remember every church I was a part of having one of those grumpy, old people in it. They were mean, they wanted their way, and they were willing to do just about anything within their power (including manipulate others) to get what they wanted. A couple weeks ago I was at Rochester College for their Streaming Conference. During the conference, we participated in a shared reading of scripture of James 2:14-26 where we paired up after having the scripture read aloud and shared what stood out to us about the passage. The thing that stood out to me was that faith and discipleship would have external, visible qualities to it. It’s not acceptable to be the old, grumpy person in a faith community.

The thing that allows these two problems to occur is not having a standard by which we can measure people. Sometimes we will say ‘Jesus’, but psychologically we know that there is no way we can achieve equality with Christ so our efforts wane.

So, what is the standard that we are striving for in our evangelism efforts? Remember from earlier posts, external behavior control is not the desire, but internal change and Christlikeness. So, what can we use for a list of expectations that doesn’t judge externally and that emphasizes the expectation of growth? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Because The Cross Was Made Of Dogwood – Thoughts On Evangelism, Part 5

Thanks for hanging on with us as we’ve covered some of the ramblings of my mind. The comments and feedback have been great. If you haven’t, please check out the other posts in this series and let us all know what you think. We’re going to turn the direction of this series a little andContinue Reading

Because The Cross Was Made Of Dogwood – Thoughts On Evangelism, Part 4

I know this looks a little long, but there’s a story at the end that you’ll want to hang around for. Thanks again for dropping by! The feedback on this series has been great. I know you’re not all commenting, but please feel free to jump into the discussion by leaving comments below. I won’tContinue Reading

Because The Cross Was Made Of Dogwood – Thoughts On Evangelism, Part 2

Married to the idea of getting people to ‘come to church’ is the idea that ‘coming to church’ is synonymous with behavior modification. It’s sort of like we think church attendance is the silver bullet for all kinds of moral ills. This is an error that churches and Christians have made for some time. We’veContinue Reading

Bringing the Good News

As any of you who’ve taken just a bit of Greek or has listened to a preacher who has tried to use it, you’ll know that we get the English word "evangelism" from the Greek word "euangelizo".  This is a compound word in Greek, formed by the prefix "eu", which means good or excellent, andContinue Reading

Evangelism – Why?

I’m reading a new book from Group Publishing on outreach entitled "Irresistible Evangelism" by Sjogren, Ping, and Pollack.  I’ve just started it, but am really excited about the content so far.  The opening chapter asks the same question I wanted to start with in today’s post on evangelism.  Why do it?   I think thisContinue Reading

Outreach Ministry – Part 2

My first experiences in outreach were of trying to uphold the established tradition of congregational evangelism.  I’m sure we’re all pretty familiar with the guilt ridden response to sermons that make us question our commitment to Christ.  Those sermons are good for getting us to want to baptize our co-workers or give money to orphanages. Continue Reading

Outreach Ministry – Part 1

My first full time ministry position was an Involvement and Outreach position.  It was my job to catch ’em and keep ’em.  There are new concepts that describe the position in a way that is supposed to be "seeker" sensative, that meaning that they won’t offend the non-Christian person you are supposed to work with. Continue Reading