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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Get Saved


This is the third in my series of posts on the book 'UnChristian: What a new generation really thinks about Christianity..and why it matters' (see here and here for earlier posts).

The second major complaint is that "Christians are insincere and concerned only with converting others" (Chapter 4, pages 67-90) and have a reputation similar to that of the Mormons or Jehovah Witnesses. In effect we don't really care about people. The author then explores a number of myths and misconceptions Christians hold about effective evangelism.

  1. The best evangelism efforts are those that reach the most people at once
  2. Anything that brings people to Christ is worth doing
  3. We cannot worry about the possibility of offending people when sharing the truth about Jesus (apparently here he's referring to people who are plain rude and mistake the offense taken to be the offense of the gospel)
  4. People embrace Christianity because of logical arguments
  5. Everyone has an equal chance of becoming a Christ follower
  6. We just need to help outsiders find a connection with God
This is then followed up with the staggering statistic that the vast majority of Americans regardless of age, assert they have already made a significant decision to follow Christ (about 70%). However only about 30% are absolutely committed to the Christian faith and in the view of the Barna research group only about 5-6% possess a biblical world-view.

At this point it's already clear to me that this picture neither fits the UK nor the majority of teaching on evangelism that I'm aware of in evangelical churches. We're certainly no more successful but we may be a bit more tactful. It's hard to know what to make of this, on the one hand it doesn't seem to fit but then what's our problem, why are we so ineffective and unable to make progress? Ah but there I fall into the trap because that is a response that is focused on quantity when the clear heart of the problem is quality. We are not making effective disciples either. Here are their seven elements to spiritual formation:

  1. worshiping god intimately and passionately
  2. engaging in spiritual friendships with other believers
  3. pursuing faith in the context of family
  4. embracing intentional forms of spiritual growth
  5. serving others
  6. investing time and resources in spiritual pursuits
  7. having faith based conversations with outsiders
What would you add?

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