In His Kingdom Manifesto of Luke 4 Jesus declared:
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour"
Those such as Tony Campolo as in the video above and those involved in Sojourners ministry with Jim Wallis are very much focussed in this area fighting for the rights of the poor and oppressed. website address http://www.sojo.net/
Another area that the church can be salt and light is in
Prophetic involvement: This includes identifying with the weak, oppressed and the poor in society and being concerned for justice and truth in society .
One could also include the ministry of William Wilberforce among others who fought against the slave trade or Martin Luther King who fought for civil rights in the U.S.
Another area which the church is involved is fighting for the unborn child who are Approximately 1,370,000 in the U.S. and about 200,000 abortions occur annually in the U.K.
Sacrificial service : Christians who are involved in social ministry such as caring for the needy often do it at great cost to themselves. e. g Mother Theresa etc. This often makes a great impression on non-Christians. ‘Actions often speak louder than words’ or James as warns us:
'If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.' (James 1.26-27)
The church also gains great credibility in the ministry it does among the poor and needy. Christian Aid and Tear fund among many others are great examples of the Church continuing to do the works of Christ. The Church does not do it to gain credibility, it does it because of what Christ did and it is that Spirit of Christ that gives Christians to love their neighbour.
William Still calls ‘Christian Presence’ ‘basic’ or ‘primary evangelism‘. It is ‘ living the life’ and allowing others to see the life of Christ in us by letting our light shine.
-‘The way to evangelise and build a nation is by Christian character, by the Word , Spirit and prayer, not evangelistic missions. The true witness is not primarily with banners in open airs and vast meetings in overcrowded halls but where you live and work and normally worship.’
There are however some criticisms of this mode -
Is it Evangelism or social action? Can it not be both?
Is there a danger that silence will predominate.
Are we letting the world set the agenda?
Saint Francis once said :
‘Preach the gospel at all times , and , if necessary , use words’
I think what Francis was trying to say here is that actions will speak louder than words and when the words become necessary to explain our actions they will point them to Christ.
In 1 Peter. Peter is speaking to the church while they were undergoing severe persecution. He does not tell them to get out there and go from door to door (but don't think that I'am against it)but he does say :
"In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander".
In other words live for God and by his word, and as we do that, people will ask why we did react or not react in a certain way when a certain things happened or why we were friendly to the friendless. Then we can tell them in a gentle way the reason for the hope that is in us and invite them to do the same or meet your other Christian friends at church or in your house.
Do you know this poem ?
Not only by the words you say,
Not only by our deeds you do, but in the most unconscious way
Is Christ Expressed
Is it a calm seraphic smile,
a holy frown upon your brow?
Oh No, I felt his presence when you laughed just now.
For me, `it was not the truth you taught
To you so clear, to me so dim
But when you came to me
You brought a sense of Him
And from your eyes He beckoned me
And from your heart, His love was shed
Till its no longer you I see , but Christ instead.
Some questions to consider:
Is Presence Evangelism not really PRE EVANGELISM as opposed to Evangelism?
The Lausanne Covenant which we looked in the last post states:
Our Christian presence in the world is indispensable to evangelism, and so is that kind of dialogue whose purpose is to listen sensitively in order to understand.
c) But evangelism itself is the proclamation of the historical, biblical Christ as Savior and Lord, with a view to persuading people to come to him personally and so be reconciled to God.
Here John Stott notes its importance regarding evangelism but denies it is evangelism per se.
The Strengths of this mode include:
1.Real involvement in society rather than hit and run evangelism: to and fro from our holy huddle.
2.Prepared to listen and understand the context before speaking. The church is prepared to listen to and feel the pain.
3.Having an understanding that society more often wants to see action ( good works will bring glory to God) before they will listen to words.
Andrew Kirk writes:‘what we call social involvement ,they ( the NT Christians ) saw as one strand of evangelism. Without it the gospel could not be fully communicated.’
What are your views of 'Presence evangelism'. Is it not evangelism at all or is it the foundation stone and root from which evangelism must be built upon and grow from?
Thursday, 11 October 2007
Modes of Evangelism : Christian Presence 3
In His Kingdom Manifesto of Luke 4 Jesus declared: