Author: Stephen Murray
I stumbled upon Sivin Kit’s blog post, ’An Affirmation on Christian Witness’ which deals with the Malaysian Christian Federation’s affirming of what is really just honest evangelism - evangelism with integrity.
Perhaps there are no places more in need of honest evangelism than our highly suspicious urban centers. Besides the simple fact that a carrot and stick approach to evangelism is morally and ethically questionable it’s probably also the quickest way to sink the reputation of a new urban ministry or church within their community. Here are 2 things to avoid and 2 things to consider doing if you are part of an urban ministry or church:
2 Things to Avoid:
1. Don’t organize and run events where the primary purpose of the event, in your own conception, is to publicly proclaim the gospel but the public (advertised) purpose of event is something else. A colleague of mine recently told me of how a Jazz evening he organised, that included a 10 minute gospel presentation at the end, painted a horrible blemish on their church’s reputation in the community. People in our urban centers will never give you an ear if you’re not straight with them.
2. Don’t get involved in a mercy ministry if your primary intention is to grow your church numerically. Don’t hear me wrong - I want people to roll up their sleeves and get stuck into mercy ministry - but do it for the right reasons. Go back, read your Bible, see God’s concern for the poor and marginalized and go out and serve. Does God want the poor and marginalized to repent and believe in the gospel? Of course he does - but you can’t just interact with them on that premise alone, which is what you’re functionally doing if your church only ever gets involved in mercy ministry for evangelistic purposes. I remember reading Tim Chester (I think - might have been Steve Timmis - sorry if I mixed it up) saying that evangelism is the most loving thing we, as Christians, can do - but its not the only loving thing we can do. The way some ministries and churches engage in mercy ministry, social justice and cultural renewal makes it clear that they believe evangelism is the only loving thing we can do. That’s not biblical and it will result in evangelism that lacks integrity.
2 Things to Do:
1. Be clear about the intention of your meetings and events. If the aim of the evening is to introduce people to the claims of Jesus then say so. People are putting their ideologies out there all day, everyday. We shouldn’t be shy or embarrassed to be clear about what we’re on about.
2. Bless your city. I’ve spoken about this already but I really believe that if we honestly and genuinely love and care for our city (no strings attached) it will put a whole lot of integrity behind us when we do share the core of our faith. I’m fairly convinced that’s what 1 Peter 2:9-3:16 is all about. Honest living allows for honest evangelism.