Author: Lee Saville
Category: Proclamation Evangelism
To facilitate a truly global conversation, we ask Christian leaders from around the world to respond to the Global Conversation’s lead articles. These points of view do not necessarily represent the Lausanne Movement. They are designed to stimulate discussion from all points of the compass and from different segments of the Christian community. Please add your perspective by posting a comment so that we can learn and grow together in the unity of the Spirit.
A response to our lead articles this month:
Nothing Rhymes with Orange. False. Nothing and Orange do not Rhyme - Rev Richards Gibbons
Preach The Gospel Wherever You Go - Use Words if You Have to - Rev Derek Simpson
Toward a Biblical Approach to Understanding Proclamation Evangelism - Thomas Johnston
Rev Derek Simpson asks whether we have lost confidence in the power of the Gospel message to change lives. I wonder whether in his outline of some of the history of the“‘social gospel’ versus ‘soul winning’” question, Thomas P Johnston Ph.D in his paper (perhaps) unintentionally identifies an underlying question, which is, have we lost confidence in one another?
In this context, “Proclamation evangelists” on the one side and the “relational evangelists” on the other.
There is much that has been written on this subject over many years by people far more qualified than I, and in 500 words all I can really hope to do is stir this pot once more in the hope of encouraging healthy discussion.
Jesus came to preach the good news and it is clear and seems to me entirely uncontroversial that He asked us to do the same.
Jesus doesn’t seem too worried about whether sometimes it is to a large crowd or to the one, like the woman at the well. The point seems to be that the good news is preached and His intention is that the whole world will hear it, and as Rev Richard Gibbons points out in his paper, communication is becoming ever more complex.
I doubt that any serious follower of Jesus has lost confidence in the message, but it maybe that from time to time we encounter or communicate a serious loss of confidence in the messengers, particularly those whose gifting, style or method of delivery is different from our own. Our presuppositions cause us to raise questions about effectiveness or relevance, sensitivity, or ethics.
The concerns are clear and well rehearsed. Are there real instances in practice where the worries (on both sides of this debate) have been justified? Of course there are, but we should be careful not to allow this to result in polarization.
Abraham Maslow said "I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail." and maybe we all have something to learn from this.
These questions about the level of unity and trust (and finding ways of working together) go further than merely the questions surrounding evangelistic philosophy and practice. Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, indeed all in the body of Christ need to find meaningful ways of genuinely working together in unity and in love and where the Kingdom is more important to us than our individual ministries I believe we will find the strength to ‘Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Eph 4:3
The Lausanne Covenant states
“Yet we who share the same biblical faith should be closely united in fellowship, work and witness”
“Our Christian presence in the world is indispensable to evangelism, and so is that kind of dialogue whose purpose is to listen sensitively in order to understand”
Lee Saville is a Missionary in Romania
 Abraham H. Maslow (1966). The Psychology of Science. p.15