There is a predictable reaction to the subject of evangelism. Many people want to avoid it entirely. If they do engage, this cartoon pretty well depicts their state of mind. The picture also shows my current state of mind, but it’s not due to defining or discussing evangelism.
Our society seems to have lost the ability for critical thinking and healthy debate. Rather than engage in challenging thought and passionately articulating our positions, we sink to the level of name calling and/or vilifying those who disagree with us. That stuff diminishes the people that do it and keeps us from sharpening our thoughts in constructive ways.
Because the above is true I have had reservations about addressing articles like Dr. Shrum’s, What Evangelism is Not. My intent is refinement, not disagreement. A clear and careful definition of missions and evangelism is called for by Dr. Shrum. I couldn’t agree more. He rightly observes that poor definitions will not serve us well. The truth of his statement is all around us and that proof prompts this writing.
The article opens with a reference to Great Commission Resurgence. Jesus commissioned His disciples (and us!) five times. Chronologically, the first was given on the evening of Resurrection Day. It is recorded in John 20, As the Father sent Me, so send I you. Since the other four happened later in time, I believe they serve to explain or unfold the first one. The setting we call The Great Commission is Matthew 28:19-20. For this discussion we’ll stick with Matthew’s setting. And there is a great need for a resurgence of Great Commission obedience.
The Great Commission begins, Go therefore and make disciples… What does it take to make a disciple? When is the disciple made? In his closing paragraph, Dr. Shrum states, Evangelism is a believer sharing the person/claims of the gospel of Jesus Christ with a person who has yet to believe the claims of the gospel or trust the person at the center of the gospel – Jesus Christ. That is one of the best definitions I have ever seen for soul winning. Now the question: Does soul winning equal “making disciples”?
Conclusion tomorrow! Comments?