As the new year begins, I want to revisit a working definition of evangelism. For some background as to what we have used as a definition of evangelism, read our evangelism definition from April of 07.
To recall, I use the PC (USA)’s definition of evangelism
the good news of the sovereign love of God,
and calling people
to personal faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord,
to active membership in the church, and
to obedient service in the world.
(Definition adopted by the 202nd General Assembly of the PCUSA, 1990).
What Evangelism Is Not:
- Personal Testimony
- Social Action and Public Involvement (“They commend the gospel, but they share it with no one.”)
- The Results of Evangelism
To his list I would add
- Church Marketing (advertisements, web page, direct mail, etc).
- Church Visitor Hospitality.
All of these items (maybe with the exception of Imposition) all support the work of evangelism, but individually, they fall short of the destination:
calling people to repentance, to personal faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, to active membership in the church and obedient service in the world.
This is the point Dever makes repeatedly in the article: “We need to stop mistaking other Christian activities for the spreading of the gospel.”
I would take issue perhaps with one of Dever’s assertions: Imposition.
It’s important to understand that the message you are sharing is not merely an opinion but a fact. That’s why sharing the gospel can’t be called an imposition, any more than a pilot can impose his belief on all his passengers that the runway is here and not there.
This would be true if a conversation only involved one side: the speaker. But a conversation involves both a speaker and a hearer. The hearer sets the boundary. Either they want to hear what you have to share, or they don’t. If they don’t, and you continue to speak, it’s an imposition.
Sure, I may be presenting a Christian gospel, but if its unwanted by my hearer, I am imposing.
Let me ask you this?
- If you have read the article, do you agree or disagree with Dever?
- What would you add to his list?
I invite you to comment.