My daughter has a friend. Her name is Angela. She and Angela are inseperable. At any given moment, of any given day, you can check with Grace about Angela and she’ll give you a very detailed update; i.e. what she’s wearing, where she’s hurting, what she’s doing, what food she likes, etc. The problem is that Angela is not real. We don’t really know where she came up with the name, but Angela is my daughter’s imaginary friend.

As I was talking to Grace last night about Angela, it occured to me that the bewilderment that I felt concerning her unseen friend, must be a lot like the bewilderment that non-believers feel when we talk to them about our faith in Christ.

This thought brings up two aspects of evangelism in my mind. First is the necessity to contextualize the gospel. The definition of contextualize is:

To place (a word or idea, for example) in a particular context

The gospel of Christ is often confusing enough, to a non-believer, on its own. To what degree do many of us further muddy the waters by our own traditions, practices or behaviors? I like to say that if someone is offended in my church it should be the message of the gospel that offends them, or turns them away, not my behavior or practices. We must be diligent to make the gospel as understandable as possible, without sacrificing biblical integrity.
Secondly, though, it reminded me of the necessity of the Holy Spirit’s involvement in evangelism. We are unable, on our own, to convince the world of the value of our message. Our message sounds like lunacy to most of those who are listening. Apart from the drawing of the Spirit, we have no hope.

22Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

1 Corinthians 1:22-25

Micah is a husband to Tracy & a daddy to Grace, Kessed & Haddon. He’s Senior Pastor at Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. Most of all, he’s a debtor to grace.

3 thoughts on “Angela?

  1. Great thoughts Micah.
    You are absolutely right when you say that it is the Holy Spirit that produces regeneration in an evil heart, not our ability to convince someone to come to Christ.
    At the same time, I think we often talk people out of being interested in the gospel, for a variety of reasons.
    I was at a meeting last week with the dean of the school of business at a local university. He said that most people talk their prospects out of the sale, by giving them way too much information. Too much technical jargon, inside talk and language, saying things the buyer doesn’t know about, and doesn’t care about.
    He said as a buyer, he wants to know two things: “How much does it cost,” because he is cheap, and “Is it pretty,” because he is married. If you can tell a prospect those two things, or whatever two things they want to know, you’ll make the sale.
    I am not demeaning the gospel by turning it into a sales pitch, but think about the implications when we share our faith. Do we use technical jargon, inside talk, Christianese, doctrine and theology that they cannot possibly hope to understand in a state of non-regeneration? If so, we may cause them to lose interest before we even get to pop the question.

  2. Good post.

    I’m not sure you’ll ever know what it is that might offend someone in a service (like was it the gospel, or your practices). The hearer might not be able to discern that.

    Folks got offended by all sorts of stuff Jesus did .. eating with sinners, shucking some grain or healing on the sabbath, equating Himself with God. All you can do is do your best to make sure that what you do lines up with scripture.

    Even the purest praise or worship might offend some, but you cannot stop doing that.

    Personally I try to avoid all the buzzwords and hackneyed phrases, and to be specific in verbalizing my ideas. That even slops over into teaching, such as not referring to the “Trinity”. I’d rather say Jesus is God and the Holy Spirit is God and here’s where it says it.

    I do think we need to be “salesmanlike” in some ways. One of my mentors said “If you would win some, be winsome.” I agree. If there must be any offense, let it be only the offense of the gospel of Jesus.

  3. Good thoughts, both of you. One of the more positive developments in the past 25 years in church life is the fact that we’re having discussions like this. The Church Growth Movement gets a bad rap more than occasionaly (and once in a while it’s only right that it is questioned) but this is one of the greatest benefits of this movement, in my opinion.

Leave a Reply