Monday, 19 November 2007

Evangelism-Modes of : Proclamation

This is the most common form of evangelism and a response to the Great Commission 'Here the focus is declaring, announcing and explaining the gospel in a way people can UNDERSTAND’.

The focus is on the verbal communication of the gospel- God is God who speaks- revealed in Jesus the WORD of God.

The good news declared interprets the 'presence' lived. Some view this mode as the only way for evangelism to be done.This is principally a contribution of the reformed tradition based strongly on Scripture.

Jesus had first of all declared "The time has come, The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"
In the Lukan form of the Great Commission Jesus sent his disciples out to preach repentance and forgiveness to all nations (Luke 24.47)
It is clear that Christian Presence is not enough as Paul strongly stated to the Roman Church. (See Rom. 10:14,17) And what is that message. Again we can look at the definition of Lausanne that Jesus Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead according to the Scriptures, and that as the reigning Lord he now offers the forgiveness of sins and the liberating gift of the Spirit to all who repent and believe.

There are at least three distinguishing marks of effective proclamation
1. Credibility
2. Authenticity
3. Sensitivity

I remember hearing of a certain Christian lived in a small Cul-de- sac who never really had any social intercourse with his neighbours. But being 'a good Bible believing Christian' he brought in an evangelist to preach the gospel for him. He did this by setting up outdoor P.A. equipment in his garden and then letting the preacher loose to preach a ‘Hell fire ‘ sermon. When he had finished preaching he packed up his P.A. equipment and left. The Christian who brought in the evangelist felt that his work had been done as he still never felt constrained to build up any sort of relationship with his neighbours.

It would seem that this sort of proclamation evangelism was neither credible, authentic or sensitive. It more than likely think that he was from some other planet, he did not genuinely care for them as he had never spoken to them before and the way he did it was most insensitive.

In proclaiming the gospel there is also a fine balance between faithfully preaching the unchanging message of the New Testament and interpreting it afresh in the different contexts that it finds itself.

Consider how Jesus and Paul sensitively matched their messages with their audience to provide a bridge or point of contact to enable them to more fully understand it.
Jesus didn't deal with the woman of Samaria the same way he dealt with Zacchaeus. Peter, the rich young ruler, Nicodemus or the Pharisees. Paul did not speak to the Jews in the synagogues as he did with the Greek intellectuals in Athens: each message was tailored for its audience. Remember Paul's momentous declaration to the Corinthians:'I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some'.

Various mediums can also be used such personal conversation, radio, TV, literature, gospel comics , internet etc may also be used in proclaiming the Word.Dialogue and discussions with other Faiths could also possibly be viewed as evangelism though some would call it more pre-evangelism to help prepare people for the gospel.

True dialogue with a man of another faith, requires a concern for the gospel and the other man. Without the first , dialogue becomes a pleasant conversation. Without the second , it becomes irrelevant , unconvincing and arrogant.

Four elements must be present in proclamation.
1. It is the sharing of historical facts not just propositions and doctrines.
2. The person of Jesus Christ is the focus -His life ,death resurrection and ascension and return.
3. The kingdom of God-The message has personal as well as cosmic significance- requires the submission to the person of Christ.
4. An invitation is made that requires a response.

Questions regarding the practice of evangelism and the prophetic role of the Church.
Jim Wallis of sojourners would claim that mass evangelists such as Billy Graham should be more prophetic and be prepared to denounce the evils of our time within the government system.
What issues in your locality or in Northern Ireland if it is to take seriously the demand for 'Prophetic evangelism'.
Sectarianism, Racism, Ageism ? What are your views from the clip from Youtube of Ray Comfort preaching at a Court House?

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