Friday, August 21, 2015

Relationship evangelism

Jason Engwer made the following excellent observation:
I recently heard somebody commenting on how Christians often use Facebook, Twitter, and other media to do things like post photographs of their children and discuss sporting events, yet say nothing about subjects like God and the Bible. I've been astonished by how many people's Facebook accounts are a form of evangelization for secularism... They have so much to say about their children and grandchildren, friends, music, movies, television, sports, their jobs, politics, travel, food, etc., but so little to say, if anything, about matters like God, theology, and apologetics. When people see something like your Facebook account, blog, or Twitter page, do they see a secular, or nearly secular, lifestyle?
I'd disclaim that there are very important matters we should be discussing, and a lot, other than theology and apologetics, such as national sin, Christian obligation in response, and how we are confronting the culture with the Gospel. But a charitable reading of Engwer's remark could subsume those things under his having mentioned God, so let's let that go.

A friend responded on my Facebook wall:
It is called relationship evangelism. I see Facebook as a tool to build relationships. When you build a relationship with someone and get a deep look into their everyday lives, then people feel comfortable coming to you and talking to you about other things including religious beliefs. Why would anyone want to come to you for support if they feel you are going to judge them?

We let others know we are sinners too and our hope for a better tomorrow doesn't come from what we do but instead because of what Christ did for us.

I am not a better person because I go to church, abstain from certain things, or preach more than someone else. I am a better person because my heart is right with God because of what He did, not because of what I do.

"In the last days many will come to Me saying, didn't we preach in your name, heal the sick, raise the dead, and I will say to them, depart from me I never knew you" Jesus said.

We have to be careful that we do not preach to be seen by men but only speak to people as led by God. If a person's motive for posting is so others see you as a "good Christian" they will have their reward with men. If their motive for posting is because the Holy Spirit put it on their heart, the reward will be from God.

I have serious, serious reservations about this notion of "relationship evangelism". A few reasons why:
1) By aiming not to offend with too much overt Jesus, you show that you are willing to not be all about Jesus pretty much all the time. And that provides an example for others to follow. They can justify also not being all about Jesus because you aren't.
2) Most of the time, "relationship evangelism" is used an excuse NOT to share the Gospel. People never get around to it.
3) When/if you do get around to it, how credible will your profession to love Jesus be since you rarely talk about His being the King of your life?
4) Relating to people is not exclusive to being overtly all about Jesus. What you're actually doing is relating to people who are not convicted of their sin, while those who just might be convicted of their sin don't know that you are all about Jesus because you don't act or talk like you're all about Jesus. You're dealing with swine, in that case, and not even finding out that they're swine.
5) How can you avoid talking about Jesus all the time if you belong to Him? Where is your heart?
6) Where in the Bible do we ever see anything that looks like the relationship "evangelism" you propose?
7) When *do* you preach the Gospel? When you said "preach", did you mean "talk to someone one on one"? Did you (God forbid) mean something that a "pastor" does on Sunday mornings within the walls of a church building?
8) How is it the act of a friend to withhold the most important message that you have ever heard from them, the only news that can save them from Hell and eternally suffering the wrath of God?

You said:
\\I am a better person because my heart is right with God because of what He did not because of what I do.\\

I'd be really careful with that sort of language. You're not better. Anything good that you have or are you received from God by pure grace. It would be far better to say "I am better off". Saying "I am a better person" calls attention to yourself rather than Jesus.

You said:
\\We have to be careful that we do not preach to be seen by men\\

True, but ironically, your notion of relationship "evangelism" *AVOIDS* preaching so as to be seen (and esteemed) by men.

Monday, August 10, 2015

The negligible danger of making evangelism one's mistress

UPDATE: Tony Miano is on a downward slide into a very dangerous spiritual position and is leading his family down that path as well. As I said in my review of his book, "I sometimes honestly fear for him at the time when (not if) the elder(s) of his church fail him."
Well, now I fear for him even more. See here and then more importantly here. Lord have mercy. He who has presumed to lecture so many, block them on social media, and sow division between them and other believers on the basis of ecclesiology, "pastoral authority", "the authority of the local church", and whether one has been "sent" to do evangelism has shown himself to be an immature nomad, tossed about by winds and waves of doctrine.
Psalm 9:15 - The nations have sunk down in the pit which they have made; In the net which they hid, their own foot has been caught.
Proverbs 29:6 - By transgression an evil man is ensnared, But the righteous sings and rejoices.

And yet...
Proverbs 24:17-18 - Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; or the LORD will see it and be displeased, and turn His anger away from him.

Pray for the man. Pray he will repent of all his bombastic rhetoric and realise the massive piles of hypocrisy in which he has engaged the last few years.
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Certain street preachers of some popularity take every opportunity they can, it seems, to warn their readers/listeners against making evangelism and open-air preaching a "mistress" (here for example) and thus neglecting family, marriage, and the more "mundane" (as it were) aspects of church membership.
Yes, that happens, here and there. Yes, nobody should neglect their family or other responsibilities while they do other good things. Yes, it is a warning well taken. Yes, it should be stated here and there.
But is that a relevant warning to the vast, vast majority of professing Christians in America? Are we in the middle of a huge movement of men spending forty hours per week at work and then another forty out on the street or at the abortion mill preaching and evangelising while their families languish at home? No.
So, forget a "huge movement" - are we witnessing even a significant minority of the professing Christians of America doing so or anything close to it? No.
As conceded above, of course to do such a thing would be bad and sinful. But there's something else that is bad and sinful, which *is* in fact a vice shared by the vast, vast majority of professing Christians in America - a profound and vast complacency vis-à-vis the fact that people, BY THE THOUSANDS, are dying and going to Hell and murdering their babies, every single day, and that same vast, vast majority is doing nothing about it while they pursue their leisure, vacations, book studies, sports and fantasy sports, and potlucks.
These men are like doctors who during your annual checkup make a big deal out of your chronically stuffy nose while not even mentioning the fact that your aorta is 99% blocked and that your blood pressure and cholesterol are way too high. Upon coming to one's senses and a full realisation of the actual situation and its dangers, one would abandon that physician and warn others about his neglect and/or incompetence.