Myths Surrounding Evangelism

mythI mentioned in my last post that Andrew Heard had some interesting/stimulating/provocative things to say regarding myths that surround evangelism. I’m not saying I agree necessarily with all of these but I thought they were thought provoking and raise some good questions. So here are Andrew Heard’s 8 myths about evangelism:

  1. Every Christian will evangelise – They won’t. Some won’t ever. They’re immature, and some are long-term hard-core rebels in this sphere.
  2. Training is the answer – Truth is it doesn’t last, and the hard-hearted still won’t do it. Only the keenies (who don’t really need it) embrace it.
  3. Follow-up is key – a 7 week course simply won’t cut it. It is simply insufficient. People start so far back that one course, for many, won’t do the job.
  4. Big events are key – in reality they see very little fruit. They’re valuable in creating ‘noise’ and momentum, but don’t put all your eggs in this basket.
  5. The right course or resource will do it – A good course will help, but there’s a whole load of other factors in the background that lead in to it. Not as simple as having the ‘right’ course.
  6. Ministers can run evangelism – There’s too many other things on the minister’s plate – a structure is required rather than one man running round like a headless chicken.
  7. A new post-modern theology is required – Nope. It’s the Emperor’s new clothes.
  8. Personal is better than the event. Not necessarily – too simplistic. Need both-and, not either-or.

Andrew’s big point is that structures are necessary to facilitate a body of people achieving something. He describes the attitude that just seeks to change the heart as ‘beads and sandals’ Christianity. It’s an ideal, but it’s the real world, and real fallen sinful people we’re working with. What’s needed is not the next big thing, or the magic bullet, but a thought-through structure that incorporates the personal, social, and structural factors to mobilise the body. What do you think – is he right, or wrong?

One Reply to “Myths Surrounding Evangelism”

  1. I have strong sympathies with much of what he is saying -though I’d want to check and clarify what’s behind some of the bullet points here. For example does he not every Christian will evangelise or that they should. I don’t think anyone would think that every Christian will do something that every Christian should do.

    The point about seven week courses is very true. In fact, the problem is I think much worse than that. I’m not too sure where the magic 7 weeks came from -in fact the original Alpha and CE courses were longer. But for many people, as a course, seven weeks is too big a commitment. I run something that lasts for four weeks. But that’s only one part of the story.

    Then the question is “What is your purpose/aim” of the course. Now, of course we want to see people become Christians. That’s the obvious answer. However it can run the severe risk that this is a process operation. You stick the non Christian in at one end and out the other end comes the Christian who then does “Discipleship explored” (is discipleship a separate thing…probably a whole other topic) it becomes mechanical and I wonder if that’s because we’ve simply accepted the Alpha model which to my eye seems to say that you take people through some steps culminating in a weekend which will result in a specific experience.

    So then, we can build in other specific sessions (I’m currently looking at some additional studies for some people in our context relating to the questions they are asking). But I agree with the sentiment that seems to be here that the important thing is the shape of the church. Is the whole church geared up to making and growing disciples. A focused course at any given point may for many be helpful place either to start off and get some basic orientation or to take a step out and think through the claims of the gospel seriously but isn’t it going to be much more about the every day/every week teaching and relating?

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