I have sort of a love/hate relationship with "evangelism." In a way, it has always been a passion of mine to share with people what the Spirit of God is doing in my heart, my life, and in the world. We have a great hope, we are making a radical claim. Those of us who embrace a faith in Jesus Christ are committed to the hope that God has not given up on the world. Simply by proclaiming the name of Jesus we are making the incredible claim that God has come near and has claimed victory over all the powers and principalities of this world and that God has done so in the life of a poor Jewish man from a little town called Nazareth and that his victory paradoxically came on a Roman cross. Now, the implications of these claims, if we're willing to bring our minds to the table and think them through, are vast and unimaginably redemptive. We certainly do have something to share and if our claims are true then we're all, at some level, in need of conversion. We're missing out on something that lies at the heart of human existence if we remain, in theory and in praxis, unaware of this incredible love that has come to us in Jesus Christ.
On the other hand, I think evangelism has been the justification for all sorts of spiritual abuse and manipulation. It has become, for some traditions, an imperial endeavor--the work of conquest, power, and domination which all stand in diametric opposition to the cross of Christ. It has become a form of injustice in our culture. Perhaps what has happened is the task of evangelism has been hijacked by the ideals of a power hungry worldly kingdom.
Well, it is about a month old but on his show "Think Forward" at TheOoze.tv, Spencer Burke recently interviewed Len Sweet on the subject and I think there are some healthy starting points for reflection in their discussion. Watch and enjoy...
Len is definitely onto something here... perhaps an evangelism that's more honest and more honestly connected to discipleship and real life.