Thursday, June 26, 2014


Preaching and teaching are the smallest part of Christian evangelism. Some Christians are called to it, and some aren't. The frustrating thing for a minister is to know how many of those you work with ARE called to it, or will be some day, and never really activate that part of their faith. Sometimes when you try to open people up to this part of themselves you misrepresent what you are trying to say.

My wife is a quiet person. She is not a person who is prone to strike up conversations with strangers. Her role in growing the Christian church is through support and by living the life she lives. I believe my wife is closer to God than I am, and that she is more of a Christian than I am. I do not think, I could not think because it isn't scriptural, that those who are called to proclamation or evangelism by proclamation are higher or better Christians than those who are not.

Yet there is something about being on the front lines of dialogue and debate, of apologetics, that some of us find exciting. And I think a great many Christians would find it exciting. The irony is that most of those Christians who are engaged in that kind of work are very bad at it. They tend to misrepresent what most Christians think and believe. There are certain institutions that are very good at using words and who are excited about the verbal part of Christianity. These institutions, however, tend to leave a lot out. They sometimes engage in bad theology and often leave fallow the far more important part of evangelism, which is preaching with our actions and our service.

The simple fact of the matter is that mainline Christianity remains, for me, a vital and important representation of the Church as the early Christians actually practiced it. Yet the mainline church is dying because it has gotten very bad at the smaller but still important part of the Christian faith, which is preaching and teaching. Evangelism has to include an element of apologetics and proselytizing. Proselytizing doesn't have to be negative, or destructive, or even judgmental. It is just the act of defending what you believe to be true. What is the quest to truth without critique and criticism? What is the point of believing something to be true if you don't want to bring that truth to others? Look, I understand the mainline distaste for engaging in words, I do. Christianity was nothing but talk for far too long. But evangelism has gained a negative connotation among some just because those who could do it right have given it up altogether.

I want people to tell me I'm wrong. I want people to question my faith and to push and prod me and to make my life difficult. Faith that is not tested in fire is weak. I also want the right to push and prod people about what they believe, to explain why I believe what I believe and why it is important. I love philosophy, for instance, and that is by nature a discipline founded in dialogue and debate.

I think there are a lot more mainline protestants who could find a path through all this and help make the world as a whole a better place not to mention helping to spread God's Kingdom. But this will never be the main calling of most Christians, and that is not only okay, it is good. One calling is never, can never be, higher than any other. What God calls you to, He calls you to, and that is that. But I get excited about THIS calling and I want to get some others who may be similarly called equally excited. I'm not fundamentalist, I don't think I'm going out to 'save souls'. But I am trying to bring the salvation of Jesus Christ to a world once wrought, to proclaim the Good News of what Christ means for me and for anyone who wants a relationship with Him. You can't remove the importance of speaking from that kind of life altogether.

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