Wednesday, October 21, 2009

'Why' Series: Pt. 1 - Programming Evangelism

As I continue to read through the Bible, God is always kind to illuminate the Scriptures in a fresh way. I occasionally make the mistake of reading through Acts (sarcasm implied) and I start questioning things. If you don't know me very well, then you might not know that I have a lot of questions. One of my favorite questions to ask is, "Why?"

Thinking about church today, I begin wondering about why such intense programming is necessary? Of course people are busy, but I think the problem lies much deeper than just that. It seems in many places that the church is either expected, or assumes the responsibility to program sanctification. This is so normal that it doesn't seem that many people even think much about it, but when you compare it to the teachings of the New Testament, there is definitely a disconnect.

One of the primary areas that I am baffled is about are evangelism programs. Now I am not questioning at all the validity of training people on various ways to share the Gospel, to live missionally, or to help them understand the biblical commission all believers have to make disciples. I think that is to be expected and encouraged. However, I think it is odd that if churches don't provide evangelism 'programs' then by and large, evangelism doesn't normally happen.

This observation is not an attempt for me to point the finger. I'm just as guilty at times of not being aware of the great privilege we have as believers to share the best news with people from all backgrounds. However, being a minister, I wonder what has happened from the times of the New Testament, the Great Awakenings, etc., to this seemingly sterile approach to evangelism.

Why do we have to schedule something that should be a natural response to the grace of God given to us in Christ? Why are we placing the responsibility of our own sanctification in the hands of the church to schedule it for us? Why are we so content to view church through consumeristic lenses and to make our selection of where we will do life based upon the music program, youth program, kids program, singles program, college program, discipleship program, missions program, etc?

Look, I understand that we are ministering in a fallen world, and our people are busy. Also, I understand in a post-Christian nation that it is becoming less and less acceptable to share the Gospel openly. However, if we get so bogged down into the programming of evangelism, discipleship, etc, then at what point do we expect believers to do these things because they are, well, they are believers?

If you have an evangelism program at your church, praise God! I'm grateful that the Gospel is being preached, regardless of the means or motivation. However, I do believe that our brothers and sisters who have gone before us have modeled for us how to BE Christian and not just DO Christian things. Something to think about...

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