Time To Reimagine How We Evangelize
Phil Miglioratti, The Reimagine.Network
#ItSeemsToMe…most of our gospel presentation content (sermons, teaching manuals, tracts, training seminars, “How-To” books, etc.) have been conceived by people and for people who think in majority-status, American-English. Every concept, even theological truths, are always expressed through the ‘language’’ of the communicator: his/her vernacular context as influenced by worldview, cultural preferences, geographical context, value-system, mind-set.
This is unavoidable but also complex. Even when two persons speak the same verbal language, differences in ethnicity-affinity-sociology-geography (place) may make comprehension difficult or insufficient. Clarification is crucial even in same-language conversations.
In the past, our Gospel presentations were effective because the communication/conversation was between persons with very similar identities and lived within, or aspired to be in, a homogeneous social context.
The founding cultural sensibilities of our nation are no longer ubiquitous, they no longer dominate. Our “one nation” may still be indivisible but it is rapidly becoming more ethnically and philosophically diverse.
Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness has changed significantly since the writing of our Constitution. Whether you agree or disagree … Women can vote and own property. They can sue for divorce from their husband. Black people are no longe considered 3/5 human. Teenagers can purchase hand guns as well as procure an abortion in some states. Non-heterosexuals are recognized as having the same right as heterosexuals. Birth rates, diversity, immigration, globalization, climatology, are the catalysts of both new aspirations and new problems.
Regardless of your position, left or right, red or blue, conservative or liberal, the sociological shifts are unavoidable.
This reality does not infer the motivation of past witnessing-models were not authentic or the message was not an accurate explanation of the Gospel.
But it does require us to recognize, understand, then rethink how to communicate (verbally and visually and contextually) with people who have very little in common with the American legacy-lifestyle.
This is not a call to adopt a different Gospel. It is a plea to think missionally, to realize what we once called the “mission field” is no longer over-there but is now in every community, office and factory, school. Everywhere except the church.
We need to reimagine. Not a rewrite of biblical history or teachings, but a restatement in thought-language that engages contemporary peoples with the Gospel. Good news that is responsive to their questions and quandaries.
In 1956, while doing evangelistic ministry with collegians, Bill Bright composed the “Four Spiritual Laws” booklet. It was revolutionary at the time, providing a simple way for Christians at any level of spiritual maturity to explain the Gospel. It became a tool for millions of Christian’s to witness to their faith in Christ.
While that tool is still usable today, we are in need of new resources (teachings, templates, tools) which are the fruit of fresh, Spirit-led, thinking.
Where to begin?
- Invite the Holy Spirit to guide you as you think or read through various templates (steps, laws) or tracts.
- Ask for discernment. What questions are bounded-to-your-mindset in a way that others would consider irrelevant to them?
- Don’t assume; ask. “What do you think about ______ (God, Jesus, spiritual truth)
- Seek the Spirit’s leading through feedback of persons who view or experience life differently.
- Begin to employ questions the Spirit can use to lead persons you share with to biblical answers.
- Adopt a prayer-care-share approach to relationships. •Pray for specific people by name and need. •Care for them as service opportunities arise. •Share your faith in ways that point to your belief in God our Savior.
- _____ (share other ideas with us)
Remember, don’t be conformed to what has worked in the past. Be filled with the Spirit so that you will be transformed by a new way of thinking (see Romans 12:2).