Sunday, September 21, 2008

UnChristian - Part 2

The second perception that Kinnaman deals with is this: Christians are insincere and concerned only with converting others. In this chapter he touches on a number of myths about how people come to be Christians. I was going to go over each one, but I think instead I'll just talk about the one that stood out the most to me. That is this - "Anything that brings people to Christ is worth doing." Many churches pay huge dollars to do evangelism efforts that will reach tons of people at the same time. They may mail Bibles, or tracts, or other Christian material to homes in their community. Or they will do an event and then sneak in Jesus at the end. Kinnaman says that the research shows that such efforts will create three to ten times as much negative response as positive. In other words, for every person that responds positively and moves toward Christ, three to ten others will move away from Him even further. This is huge. The perception of people is that they are simply a number, a notch on a belt, a statistic. Can I ask a really difficult question? Is that really just a perception? Do we care about them, really care about them? What if that person that you befriended tells you that he or she has no interest in Jesus - what happens to the friendship? What is our motivation? Do we seek conversion, or friendship? Do we love unconditionally, or with an agenda?

Here's a confession for you. As a pastor I struggle with evangelism. It's not one of my gifts, nor is it something I get excited about. Let me clarify. I struggle with the whole make-a-decision-and-pray-a-prayer kind of evangelism. Let me explain. I've done plenty of "raise your hand and pray this prayer" kind of sermons. But if I'm honest, they always feel awkward and weird. I feel like I'm trying to sell someone on something. It's almost like I'm trying to be a used car salesman. Just get them to sign on the dotted line next to the "as-is, no warranty" line and once they drive off my property it isn't my problem anymore. We get so geared up and focused on the decision. The prayer. The raised hand. The checked box. Don't get me wrong. I believe that people need to make a faith commitment to Christ. There's a place in there somewhere where people acknowledge their need for a Savior. But it seems to me that while this is an important step, it certainly shouldn't be where it ends. Nor should it be the highlight. To me the highlight is someone who is learning to walk with Jesus as his disciple. Kinnaman says "Intentionally or not, we promote the idea to outsiders that being a Christ follower is primarily about the mere choice to convert" (79). We need a more holistic approach to being a Christ follower. We need discipleship. We need to do life together with people. We need friendships that run deep. It's not as flashy, not as noticeable, not as numbers driven. It's slower, harder, more messy. But it's real. It's genuine. It's authentic. It's discipeship. Now that's something that gets me excited.

I'll end with this one other quote from Kinnaman and then I'd love to hear feedback. "Transformation is a process, a journey, not a one-time decision. This resonates with Mosaics and Busters. The depth and texture of Christianity ought to appeal to young people, but the unChristian notion strains life in Christ into mere mental allegiance to a religion. The truth is that when a person makes a commitment to Christ, it is just the first step into a much larger reality" (82).



I think that you should just start an online church. The last two posts have been really good. I went on wednesday to the youth group to see one of the candidates for youth pastor. He prided himself to the search comity as being a very good evangelizer. He pulled the salvation prayer out of his pocket and asked for the raise of a hands so he "could pray for them". One guy raised his hand and of course i, being a sceptic, peeked to assure the fact he was proclaiming. But it got me thinking if he truly was even going to pray for this young man but even more if this young man was entering in to a relationship or if it was kind of a blind date where the two would never meet again. The pastor got out of it what he wanted but i wonder if God got what he did. Weather or not the young man is a on fire christian, the seed has been planted or watered a little more and we can neglect that.

Jeremy great post. I need to catch up with you in this book I'm now on chapter 3. I think your right though in all you said. Christianity should not be a numbers game and the world sees us like recruiters for the army. We get so focused on that that we forget they are people just like us, people who face struggles, and life, and the great times too, just like us. Are we willing to be friends with the guy that never chooses to follow Christ? Even if it means we have to throw out the agenda of many churches, our agenda. I would hope the answer is yes, but I greatly fear that many of our faith would say no and move on.

Looking forward to meeting. I don't run across many like you around these parts. GREAT observations and I am with you.

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