Thursday, March 19, 2009

We are called to "Go"

I'm thinking a lot today about Christ's commission to "Go therefore and make disciples" (Matt. 28:19). Jesus did not command us to draw people into our settings, but rather, to go where the people are, in settings that will be natural and comfortable to get to know them to discuss the things of God.

Notice how this command to "Go" applies in a tribal setting. New Tribes Missions says, "While there may be situations when it is preferable for the people to gather at the home of the missionary or in a specially-erected building, it is usually better to conduct pre-evangelism sessions in the peoples homes or wherever the villagers most naturally and commonly gather. It may be under a large shady tree in the center of the viallage or at the town plaza during the hottest time of the day...The locale may change according to the seasons and the work being done by the people...By going into their homes, sitting where they sit, and communicating within the framework of the tribal culture, we are showing them, by example, that the message of the Scriptures is meant to be taught and practiced within the structure of their culture..." (Building on Firm Foundations, Vol. 1, p. 111, 124)

But what about 21st century America? How do we obey Christ's command to "Go"? If most of our church's pre-evangelism and evangelism is happening in Sunday School, Sunday morning worship, mid-week Bible study, or door-to-door visitation, it would seem we are asking people to interact in a setting that is completely unnatural and uncomfortable to them. How much better it would be for us to engage the culture by building relationships and sharing the gospel in their own natural environment.

I don't know how this will work itself out practically in our church, but I'm growing concerned that we must be much more aware of the cultural barriers we face as we seek to reach our own neighbors with the gospel.

One new resource I'm very excited about is a little booklet put out by Matthais Media called The Essential Jesus. It's an attractive version of the Gospel of Luke with three introductory pages and then a closing summary of the gospel at the end. You can download a preview of the entire book here. If you buy them in bulk, they're available for as little as 95 cents each.

I'm eager for creative ways to use this tool in the future, perhaps as a free giveaway at a local fair booth or as a possible book study at a local coffee shop. But even with this great tool, I realize there is now a whole generation of people who will not even spend the time to read a free, 80-page book. So, we must constantly explore newer and more effective ways to connect and reach unbelievers.

1 comment:

McC Family said...

Stephen,

I know that I too often fail to go. Part of my omission is that I feel under prepared. However, that sense of inadequecy should drive me to pursue with violence to be prepared to give an answer of the hope that is within me.

Do you think that preparation is the biggest reason that people do not go?

What can we do to be prepared?