Author: Raphael Anzenberger
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
As a proclamation evangelist serving across the French speaking world, I would like to make three observations.
The need for apologetic preaching
When Gibbons states: “An apologetic approach to proclamation that asks pointed questions and challenges preconceived ideas brings with it definite advantages,” I can only agree! But what are the preconceived ideas? Here is where caution is needed: we cannot assume and should not assume that we know the questions people are asking about Jesus. Simple, but so often neglected! This is the reason why before each campaign, we survey people in the area with one simple question: “if God was here right now, what question would like to ask him?” This allows us to discover the questions they are asking about faith, and then to address them in an apologetic series. The framework of the talk uses three parts: identification (grasping the question and the worldview underlying it), argumentation (looking at fallacies, framing the Gospel message), and invitation (offering follow-up conversations to dig deeper into the matter). We need more apologetic preaching!
The need to revive the ministry of the evangelist
When Simpson observes that churches failed to introduce “alternative programs of evangelism” while insisting that evangelists leave the stage, I can only concur! I would go even farther: it is precisely because churches have neglected evangelists that the impact of evangelism has decreased! Today most pastors cannot give an accurate definition of what an evangelist is, let alone pin point one or two emerging evangelists in their own congregation. This is a problem indeed! In our Evangelist Forum gatherings, we help pastors and theological educators to reconsider the theology of this ministry in order to understand its missiological implications, as well as to galvanize a younger generation of evangelists to love the church, local and global, making the most of every opportunity to reach the world. We need more evangelists!
The need to reposition proclamation evangelism within the discipleship continuum
When Johnston quotes Mott saying: “the limitation of this task [missions] to mere evangelization confounds means and goal. Mere preaching does not suffice; it is the means of laying the foundation of the Church”, I can only applaud! As proclamation evangelists, we have often been guilty of considering “the job done” when someone recites the Sinner’s prayer. But Philip the evangelist is here to remind us that we should be ready to accompany the seeker all the way to baptism, as the visible sign of his integration in the Body of Christ. As McKnight reminds us: “conversion is not about repeating a formula… it is about following Jesus as the shaping of one’s identity”. And that takes time! We need to reposition proclamation evangelism within the discipleship continuum!
If we seriously work on the above, I am very confident that the future of proclamation evangelism will be bright! For Christ continues to call some… as proclamation.
Raphael Anzenberger, France, Evangelist with France-Evangelisation
 Turning to Jesus: The Sociology of Conversion in the Gospels. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press. page 181.