Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Day 2: Me, the Evangelist

Or should it be Me, the Nominal Christian?

I think that's what our professor is trying to trick us into believing.

Here are notes from today: "Describing Nominality"

Accept people on the basis of their own self-understanding (if they say they are a Christian don't argue with them, simply surround them w/cmmty of faith). "Treat people as Christians until they discover they're not."

(or presumably realize they can be...more)

"The issue is not whether someone is born again. It's whether they are grown again. People can be born again and again and again and again. What matters is if they are growing."

We can't impose but must propose the gospel.

It's very important that we don't pretend with God - the Bible is a brutally honest book. Be grateful for the bits you don't like b/c there will be times you need them (eg psalms of wrath).

There are a lot of angry preachers - lots of repressed anger in Ev tradition. Turn off sound on TV preacher and ask yourself what is the message. Sad - we are proclaiming message of a gracious God, grace to the undeserving.
"The longer I've been a preacher, the less I use 'you' and the more I use 'we.'"

Why are we angry?
We've made God into an angry person. Wrath appeasement on the cross (simplistic).
Church leaders are extremely unhappy and under too much pressure.

"I sincerely hope you do not do your dating like you do your evangelism." We're talking about a life commitment here. Jesus didn't nail people to the wall, requiring instant decisions. When people aren't ready to make decisions he doesn't push (Nicodemus, for instance, who in John 3 isn't ready yet but by the end of the gospel seems converted).

Sometimes the spirit prompts boldness, but that's very different from brashness.

Our witness is to tell people as much as God wants them to hear.

The art of communication is to tell a little less than people want to know, rather than more, so they'll come back. Most Evangelicals are still talking after people have stopped listening!

We're accustomed to our language, but it doesn't communicate to outsiders. He actually quoted us Chaucer in the old English to show us how foreign we sound to outsiders!

[but note that the Brad Kallenberg book - "Live to Tell" - has the good solution, which is that we teach them our language, not dumb it down or translate for them - while making no assumptions about what people will get on their own]

Gibbs: 'Words do not contain meanings' - it's not what we say, it's what others hear. So Amazing Grace was understood as a love song about a girl named Grace when on the pop charts in the UK.

Practical exercise: ask a new person at church to write down any word/phrase/action they don't understand. You'll be surprised how much there is.

Short-term pastors are a problem contributing to nominality: "It's a brother who stays, it's a boss who moves." Congregations will commit to pastors if they commit to them first. Huge issue for emerging churches b/c they are founded by apostolic types (who get bored after about 5 years).

People drift in and out. You've got 3 mos to incorporate a newcomer (if no new friends, brought into relational group, you'll lose them).

Peter Wagner: "Much easier to have babies than raise the dead" (ie plant new churches than renew old ones); Gibbs: "I believe in signs and wonders." (resurrection is God's work)

Recommendation: The Missional Leader by Alan Roxburgh & Fred Romanack(Jossey Bass)- helpful book in terms of changing DNA of an established church. If you want to fix what you've got rather than start over (and we need some of that in my denomination!)

True church membership manifests in ministry. But ministry flows from relationships (not from filling out a questionnaire and identifying your gift!). If you don't use a gift it atrophies. "An undiscovered gift is an unlived life." (New Wineskins). Most church members (80% says Gibbs) have never discovered their gift, and it's not their fault, it's the fault of a controlling leadership.

"Healing is primarily a sign of the Kingdom rather than God's answer to every medical condition." (an explanation as to why it is visited upon those without faith and sometimes not to those with it)

Pastors need not only theology, but wisdom in how to survive in ministry. It's not great to burn-out for God!

Many people are in dead churches and simply know no different. But to bring vitality and freshness will change things for them. They don't even know they are nominal!

In a pluralistic society, ministers need a very high Christology (but with humility and not a power-ploy). [this set me off on a mental tangent. I am terrified of what's becoming of my Christology. Well I don't know first if I even had one. I must have. But I haven't take that class yet so it's hard to know. But what I'm saying is that I'm scared because I don't think mine is very high anymore and it's a result of my exposure to pluralism. I don't know if I can say that Christ is the ultimate end for everyone who believes in God...yet he must be, if I am Trinitarian, and I do believe all will come to God eventually. I mean, I've decided I'm a pretty stout universalist. And the love of God, which is what will eventually save everyone, was most greatly manifest in Christ. So Jesus must be the eventual salvation of all the world. So maybe I do still have a decent Christology. Am I a heretic yet?]


Anonymous said...

I'm fascinated by what you say about your shifting Christology, and by how exposure to pluralism may be changing some things for you. I would love to hear more about that at some point.

e. said...

Damn! I guess I WON'T be taking that evangelism class with Gibbs after all. Glad you're posting your notes, though.

Very interesting. I especially like: "The art of communication is to tell a little less than people want to know, rather than more, so they'll come back. Most Evangelicals are still talking after people have stopped listening!"

I usually think about this in terms of 'trying not to talk about God.' It seems - honestly - that whenever I attempt to avoid speaking with assumed non-Christ followers the topic of God always surfaces. This is a much more comfortable way to speak of these things...when the other person has brought it up.

Anonymous said...

"Am I a heretic yet?"

By virtue of your universalist theology and weak Christology, yes.

Anonymous said...

I love anonymus posters. They're so...genuine.

Regarding the Christology shift: Take two Tillichs and call me in the morning.

Unknown said...

Don't worry. Systematics will shift it all around again...
And to use a reverse of your thought from an earlier post, if your mind is closed now, it will surely remain closed later on in ministry. Stay flexible!

Unknown said...

And come join RevGalBlogPals!! You found the Frappr map; I'm sure you can find the WebRing, too.