Monday, October 18, 2010

Soul winning vs. Evangelism

The bishop has challenged all pastors in our conference to lead one person to Christ. So now I am reflecting on Evangelism. What do I consider Evangelism? What does evangelism look like according to Scripture?
Then today on a blog I often read () I found a video about "soul winning." This gentleman offers advice on winning souls. This particular video talks about talking to people on the street about Jesus, going up to kids who are hanging out. And I wondered.
I am not a parent. I am an aunt though. And I wonder how I would feel if someone came up to my nephew or niece and began to share god/God with them? Are children, like this gentleman notes, more open spiritually? Or is it simply they haven't experienced things which cause the deeper questions of faith to be asked? The things which the Romans Road doesn't answer.
I am ok with someone sharing God with my nephew and niece but not the Romans Road. The Romans Road is a device to share God. It seems to assume the person has no experience with God. They are floundering out in Creation without the Creator. I want them to get to know my nephew and my niece. I want them to help my nephew and niece see that God has been with them throughout all their lives.
Perhaps that is what Evangelism is. Evangelism is pointing people to God, helping them to see God has never forgotten them.
What is evangelism to you? Is there a difference between Soul winning and evangelism?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Dance of Life

Ok, I admit it. I love Dancing with the Stars. Now I have not been the most loyal of fans. I liked it when Kelly Osborne was on it but haven't watched much of the show. This season I have been tuning in a lot more frequently. It may sound ridiculous but I feel the show has helped me be a better person. When I heard the list of stars for this season, I wasn't too excited. I find Jersey Shore to be annoying. The Palins are the poster family for American Christianity which has turned me off of them. Not one of the stars who would be performing this season beckoned me to watch and cheer them on. But I tuned in anyways. And I have found myself beckoned to a higher quality of character.
Those who I would possibly criticize or wish against, have found a soft place in my heart. I was pleasantly surprised by Bristol Palin and found myself cheering for her. The Situation, well he has been what I expected. But I am not wishing him off the show. Yes, watching him has been painful. He does lack a bit of grace and musicality. But I find the pain I feel in watching him is not because his lack of talent. I feel pain for him as he learns to dance in front of the American Public.
I cut my teeth on preaching at seminary, nervously in front of my preaching class of 30. It took all I could do to stand in front of THE Dr. J. Elsworth Kalas, one who has authored numerous books on preaching and was the seminary president at the time. Dr. Kalas demanded all who preached in his class to do so without any notes. And so in one semester, I preached three times in front of a group of ragamuffins trying to become preachers and Dr. Kalas. Oh, and the time I was invited to preach in the seminary chapel for the last chapel of the school year, I was incredibly nervous there too. I stood in front of not only Dr. Kalas but the new seminary president, Dr. Tennent. The congregation also included Dr. Richter, Dr. Pohl, Dr. Dongell, Dr. Seamands, the list goes on and on of professors who taught me, who have written books and read the Bible in the original languages. I learned to preach under great pressure. But this pressure is nothing compared to The Situation's, well, situation. My audience was no where in the same ballpark as Dancing with the Stars. But most importantly, my audience was nothing like the American Public. Yes, there were Biblical scholars in my audience. But they were on my side. They wanted me to bring the Word of God clearly with grace and hope. They wanted me to succeed. I am sure there are many who want the Situation to succeed. He is still on the show as of today (tonight's result show may have a different perspective.) But I wonder how many also just want a juicy story on the Situation or on Bristol Palin.
And so, I find myself being a little more gracious. I am not sure I will be sorry when the Situation is voted off the show. I don't expect Bristol to make it too much further either. But I find myself cheering for them because I too have "learned to dance with words" in public.
I wonder....perhaps I need to see life as a dance and all of us like "the amateur stars" learning to dance the Argentine Tango without learning the basic "step, ball, change" in front of the world. Maybe the world would be different or maybe, I would be different.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Glee meets Jesus

So I am watching Glee. And they are taking on religion today. They hit on a bunch of hot button issues in this episode. I am impressed with their courage. There is the gay issue, the atheists, the Santa image of Jesus, church v. state issues, unanswered prayers, answered silly prayers.
As I get closer to the end of the show, I am torn. Do I want the big prayer answered: Curt's dad to be healed? Or do I want us to stay in the midst of the pain and uncertainty? It seems that is where we are so often.
I think the episode was well done. Respectful yet challenging. It was powerful. I know there will be those who say they were pushing the "gay agenda." And I feel sorry for them. This episode has offered us an opportunity. Can we hear the questions the culture is asking us? asking God? Can we hear and see how the culture is hearing and seeing us and our message? If what they are saying doesn't match up with the Gospel, do we need to work on delivering the Gospel better? Is the message we are proclaiming the Gospel?

Getting it wrong?

I watched the Daily Show with Jon Stewart the other day. His interview was with an atheist talking about moral values. According to this atheists, religion calls people to be moral for bad reasons. Science can call people to be moral for good reasons. His book is The Moral Landscape which deals with this subject.
In the interview, the author states how Catholicism is more interested in birth control than genocide. He also sees the God of Abraham as one who was immoral because he got the slavery issue wrong. Of course, I disagree with him on these points. He seems to be ready to condemn on some bad points but does not look at the good the Catholic Church has also done nor does he look at the year of Jubilee which seems to undo our understanding of slavery.
Despite his tunnel vision to discredit religion, he did raise an interesting point. His interpretation that the Church is focused on certain issues while neglecting other moral issues stopped me in my seat of judgment.
He is getting the message wrong--perhaps partially because he doesn't want to see life any other way than how he sees it. But how are we helping him get it wrong? Are we drumming the abortion issue, the homosexual issue, the sexual issue so much that we are drowning out the Grace of God?
I saw a t-shirt the other day---"God hates us." It seems we are not getting the Gospel out. How do we reclaim the Good News from ourselves?