“Effective Evangelism” according to Christianity Today

imagesChristianity Today, a Christian magazine had lots to say against handing out gospel tracts, deeming them ineffective.  They gathered opinions from many like-minded people who used arguments like this:

  • “I’m not sure that it’s God’s favorite medium”
  • “the best evangelism is through sharing burdens, dreams, pains and fears”
  • “Very rarely. Most people become Christians through relationships, not by being handed pieces of paper.”
  • “These measures have little positive effect, but considerable potential for irritating their targets.”
  • Some methods of evangelism practiced today are not only irrelevant to disciple-making, but actually counter-productive to it. I would put most distribution of tracts and flyers and typical street evangelism methods into that category.”

Thankfully, some commenters recognized God’s sovereignty, and did not consider effective evangelism as fully reliant on man’s best schemes and ideas.

  • “It’s funny how men think; always looking for human results as the barometer for what’s right. This article seems to focus on the results of human efforts, not God’s will or glory. If it is God’s will that the gospel be preached and the foolishness of that act brings glory to Him, then so be it! The results are up to Him.”
  • “To think that by witnessing to someone you could so offend them to the point they will not put their faith in Christ is to say that God’s Sovereign Grace is so ineffectual that you could change it’s course.”
  • ” As a missionary and evangelist, I know the power of the TRACT (Gospel tract filled with scripture) especially in third world countries. I have been mobbed many times by lost hungry people who are hungry for the Good News and hope in Christ. You are handing out the WORD OF LIFE – GOD’s HOLY WORD and the Holy Spirit is right there witnessing and convicting of the truth in lost peoples hearts. God’s Word never returns void! Oh the stories and testimonies of salvation and new life found through the silent ministry of the Gospel Tract!”
  • “Asking, “Is it effective” as the prime condition ascribes to rank pragmatism, pure and simple. Very few, if any, prophets in the Bible were “effective” by today’s standards. Making “Does it work” the primary question rather than “Is this biblical” leads us into an entirely different religion.”
  • Tracts contain the Word of God. The Word of God is more powerful than anything on this earth or in the universe.

Here is the original article which provides a worldly perspective on ‘effective evangelism’:

 http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/august/shouldwestillgiveouttracts.html?paging=off

 

 

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After reading a Chick Tract before falling asleep

Before I went to sleep last night, I was reading some digital versions of chick tracts that contained imagery of God on his throne, and men in captivity. When I fell asleep I ended up dreaming about something similar. (Disclaimer: I do not mean to suggest that my dream was anything more than just a dream. It just got me thinking about things)

female_prisonersI dreamt I was in an orange jump suit with shackles on my wrists. I was in line with many other women, but felt out of place. I wondered how I ended up as a criminal. I remember repeating to myself “I am a criminal, I am a criminal” to let it sink in. I was shocked at my position. I thought that my life would be forever ruined by this. Just then a woman pulls me aside who had a sheet of paper, which resembled a resume. She read aloud some of the great things that I had done and told me that she was surprised that I was in captivity. She also told me that really I shouldn’t be here with the others.  (In any proper justice system, all it takes is one offense to warrant punishment, so her comment was odd…)

I then walk out of the prison, which from the outside looked like either an old church or school, and called my fiancé to tell him where I was. I remember seeing an aerial map of the prison, and saw how it was off of some main roads. I then walked inside a sandwich shop briefly loitered inside, when suddenly I realized that I shouldn’t have left the prison. So I ran back in great fear. “Now I’m going to have an even longer sentence!” I thought. 

When I snuck back into the doors, I did not recognize where I was. I wanted to get back quickly so that no one would notice my absence. As I scrambled down the hallways to find my place, I saw a women that I evangelise with (in real life) and she encouraged me to come into a classroom with her. She said it was an alternative classroom in the school, but did not specify in what way, or for what reason. When I peeked inside I suspected that it was a class for troubled students.

I felt reluctant to go inside as I was afraid of making a scene, and not having permission to be there. I soon let go of my reluctance and walked in with her. I sat in the second row, and was greeted by the teacher who was handing out exam papers, where we were instructed to write a script of what we would tell the judge we were awaiting to see. We were all convicted of something. 

When I was about to start writing, I checked my cell phone, which I suspected was against the rules. I got a text from my lawyer saying that my case was ready to go, and the judge is waiting. I saw that the text was sent at 12:45, and it was already past 1pm! so I panicked. I was already late for my case! “I am really going to be in trouble now!” I thought. I then looked up at the teacher and pleaded with him to be able to call my lawyer and figure things out. I was granted permission, and ran out into the hallway.

I quickly tried calling them back, and while doing so I did not want to disturb the others, so I decided to open up a door that led to another corridor. I managed to open it up a crack when suddenly an alarm went off. It wasn’t a screeching alarm, rather it was pretty flat, but nonetheless it got my attention.

I was embarrassed and headed back to the classroom. I saw everyone in the room jump from out of their seats into a militant-like standing posture. (in hindsight it was symbolic of one calling “All Rise!” when the judge comes in). I went to the back of the class, and stood with the rest. The teacher asked the room who was guilty, I immediately piped up and said “it was me! I am guilty!” He then tried to shush me, as if wanting another person to come forward.

I was suddenly back near the front of the class, and standing around others who one by one started running away in a frenzy. They were trampling over chairs, and scattering around.  I still remained in place, standing still and stoically. I wanted to stay there to recognize my guilt, and own up to it. 

authoritarian-parenting-strict-parents-woman-pointingThen I saw an old and short woman tell me that I was not to open that door that I opened, even in the slightest. She went on and on to warn me about how even the smallest infraction was deadly. She was being quite stern with me, and at times I thought she was trying to crush my spirit rather than help me. I was trying to resist her words at the end since she was really trying to condemn me without providing any resolve.

Suddenly a few women come bursting into the room and told me that I’m free to go. I felt so relieved and unworthy, but really really happy!

Although I know that a dream is just a dream-and nothing more –  this dream reminded me of the free, yet undeserved grace that God gives us through Jesus Christ. In that dream it was clear that I was a guilty criminal, since I was wearing orange, had shackles on me,  but at the same time I was surprised that I was a criminal, because  someone reassured me that I was a ‘good person’. This illustrates that being good in our own eyes, or in the world’s eyes is not enough.

When I saw others preparing their cases for the judge, I felt worried for them because I knew that there was no convincing a judge of how to judge us. I certainly knew that we could not change our status on our own.

I was aware that I had to own up to and repent of what I had done in order for things to be made right – I could not run away from it, or try to rationalize my deeds like the others. What I wasn’t aware of, and should have been aware of, was the fact that someone was likely pleading my case. Someone made a way for me to be released. I was surprised by grace and freedom!

I think that I often forget that Jesus took my place and paid the price for my sins. I become too hard on myself, and condemn myself. I don’t let the reality, peace, and freedom of forgiveness set in. Maybe I should let these verses sink in:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

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