Really, really good insights from y'all out there on evangelism and the Church. There is no question that we sometimes narrow it down to a sales pitch of information only, and that as Barry points out re: Phil 1, even in bad attempts at least Christ is preached. And the reason I bring it up and want to continue this theme is that I do believe mission to be central to what the Church is about. We exist not just for personal transformation, but that the transformation into Christ's likeness drives us to draw others into this relationship w/ the God who created us. For my ministry context, I refer to what I do as planting "Missional Communities". They aren't just communities for community sake, they are on a mission, its one of our non-negotiables.
So let me share with you today at least one way that I see as effective evangelism and its one that we often don't consider. Its what John Wimber called "Power Evangelism" and if you read Eric Keck's blog, he is often posting profoundly on the subject. Displays of God's unparalleled power on earth draw people into having to consider what it is that they have seen with their own eyes. The Gospels and Acts are chock full of signs and wonders and people being drawn into the Kingdom as a result.
For example, this week at Liberty House Church we were reading from Matthew 9 and it starts w/ a story of friends bringing a parapalegic to Jesus in front of the Pharisees and he forgives the man and heals him which creates a stir. Then the narrative flows seamlessly to Jesus calling Matthew to "follow Me", undoubtedly one of the witnesses to thise event. And then Jesus is in Matthew's house eating with other sinners and is criticized again for being a friend of sinners. Jesus responds with "who needs a doctor, the sick or the well?" My point is that the narrative leads from a sign of healing (power) straight to mission, Jesus drawing others into His Kingdom. Being a conduit of God's power on earth can be a converting experience for those looking on and seeking truth.
My brother in law, Rob,last week was diagnosed with kidney cancer so severe that they were going to remove one of his kidneys today. As a church and as a family, we decided to fight this diagnosis. In the meantime, Rob found out that his unbelieving employees decided to pray for him and his healing as well because they wanted the best for him even though they are not sure God exists. As well, Rob has been a long time studly beach volleyball athlete with many friends from that context in the area. Most of them living a liftestyle outside the Kingdom. So they are watching too. Rob played what he thought would be his last tournament on Saturday for a while and many of this crowd came to watch. Rob won the tournament and let them know that its always possible that God would heal him. So the church prayed and unbelievers prayed. On Monday, Rob gets the call. The doctors want to make a complete change to their diagnosis with no explanation. What they were so sure they saw has somehow changed with a new catscan. No cancer, no tumor, rather just a shrinking cyst. Either the doctors were incompetent last week, or God showed up in POWER. But he showed up in POWER with non-followers watching and participating in a Kingdom Now experience. Rob's now having a lot of fun having these conversations with his friends and employees about whether God exists and answers prayers. On Saturday night, we're throwing a BBQ at our house and inviting all involved to come and celebrate what God has done.
God is not afraid to use our suffering for mission and his ultimate Glory. When God shows up in POWER, all of His creation is drawn to Him as the source of all things. And its just fun for us to be a part of the process.
Stop and Notice the Kingdom amongst you today,