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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings, Is Evangelism a Four Letter Word? edition

Acts 2:14a, 36-41
Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19
1 Peter 1:17-23
Luke 24:13-35

In Acts, Peter tells the people what they are to do if they believe. We have the paying of vows in the Psalm, 1st Peter wades in the blood of the lamb, and Luke takes us down the road to Emmaus.

This week, my mind has been captivated by Acts. Peter TELLS the people.
In my tradition (Presbyterian), we really, really like talking about the importance of living out our faith.

For example, consider the movie about Johnny Cash, Walk the Line. Do we want to be the kind of Christians who gossip and think we should ostracize those who have fallen short, or do we want to be the kind of Christians who flush the addict's pills down the toilet and refuse to allow the dealer access to the addict?

This focus on deeds (based on faith, of course) is not a bad thing, but sometimes we like to focus on living out the faith because it keeps us from having to talk about our faith.

But. In the life of faith, we're not just supposed to walk the walk, we're supposed to talk the talk.

In my mind, talking the talk, (aka faithful evangelism) isn't bullying and it isn't knocking on, much less knocking down doors.

It is being ready to walk in when the door is opened. Listening, paying attention, caring for others, and when moments to arrive, being ready to receive them. To be able to articulate what it is that you believe as a way to offer compassion, comfort, and hope.

Theologian Shirley Guthrie:
"Christian witness does include telling the story of our own faith journey and how we have experienced the presence and work of God in our own lives, but the goal of authentic evangelism is not to talk about our personal religious experience, but to talk about the God we have experienced…. The story we Christians have to tell is not only about how God has been present and at work in our individual lives; it is to set our little stories in the context of the story of all of God's people…."

“Evangelism in a Pluralistic Society- A Reformed Perspective"
Shirley Guthrie at the Covenant Network Conference, 2002

Brian McLaren offers this interpretation:
"Good evangelists… are people who engage others in good conversation about important and profound topics such as faith, values, hope, meaning, purpose, goodness, beauty, truth, life after death, life before death, and God. They do this, not because they like to be experts and impose their views on others, but because they feel they are, in fact, sent by God to do so. They live with a sense of mission that their God-given calling in life is not just to live selfishly, or even just to live well, but to live unselfishly and well and to help others live unselfishly and well too.

Evangelists are people with a mission from God and a passion to love and serve their neighbors. They want to change the world. Good evangelism is the process of being friendly without discriminating and influencing all of one's friends toward better living, through good deeds and good conversations.

For a Christian like myself, evangelism means engaging in these conversations in the spirit and example of Jesus Christ."

Brian McLaren, More Ready Than You Realize, Zondervan, 2002, p. 16.

Anyway, that's what I'm thinking. How about you?


  1. I'm not "on" this coming Sunday, but the topic strikes a chord with me since I find myself on our parish evangelism committee, trying to reframe what that means in a way that doesn't make me think, "Eeeuw." LOL

  2. I'm working with Luke, but haven't thought too much about it yet. I preached Luke for my candidating sermon at my first call 6 years ago, and that sermon was also the sermon I preached in a somewhat different form a few days before that at my grandmother's funeral.

    I will do something completely different this time and very intentionally focus on the meal that was shared. This works well since it is a communion Sunday. Also, it's "Camp Sunday" with the camp director coming to promote summer camp opportunities. I just can't resist the temptation to talk about the disciples and Jesus having a campfire cookout complete with S'mores. It's just too perfect!

  3. I haven't posted anything here yet, but I have been a lurker for some time now =) I'm a new United Methodist pastor in a small town church and loving it.

    Anywho... I spend some time with a small group of people in my church looking at the lectionary readings on mondays, and this week, I was surprised to discover as we discussed an evangelism model in the Luke reading. As we thought about which character we related to most in the reading, we thought about ourselves and our calling as the church to be Christ, walking with others. There are so many people in our communities who have fallen away, who are disillusioned, etc., and need someone to walk with them.

    I think what I learned from our conversation was that yes, we walk with others and yes we share the words of scripture and the message of God with them, but sometimes, it takes actually sitting down with another person and sharing a meal, breaking the bread and sharing our life with them, before they are ready to hear and understand.

  4. I am going with the transforming nature of resurrection. It always strikes me as important that people seem t have troubel recognizing the Risen Christ. OSmething is obviously different...

    For me it is the difference between raising the dead (as in some sort of Cosmic CPR) and Resurrection.

  5. gord: Resurrection not Resuscitation, IOW?

  6. Living the talk we talk is what people see and therefore, know about our faith.

    Some groups that do meditation are growing. They don't advertise, it's all by word of mouth. But, mouth (talk) is not how it happens, it helps, but EXAMPLE is what Jesus went by. He lived his message.

    That's how he spread the Good News!

    Perhaps we made evangelism into a heavy duty rather than how we live, and live joyfully. It scares people because we seem to put our 'rules' into it. God asks us simply to live and love each joy, rather than a chore, or so fervently we chase people away.

    Fear has nothing to do with God's love. We keep being told to "not be afraid", but it seems we don't get that part...too bad!

    We are heading for Pentecost and the fiery love that sends us out in to the love.

    Be the Message by example, by love, in joy!

  7. THat pretty much sums it up CR

  8. yes, welcome Katie!
    I'm not preaching, but the thoughts on evangelism intrigue me, walking the walk and talking the talk. Especially wondering as a Lutheran where the voices are in my church that will keep us going in this new century, and that Lutherans have the reputation of not being able to talk about our faith. Ouch.

  9. I've not preached in a while. I don't have any comments for the lectionary text. But say a prayer for me: a church wants to hire me as their children's minister. Never thought I would be trying to discern God's calling while in the hormonal hell of being 35 weeks pregnant.

  10. that's very good Crimson Rambler :)

    I like it a lot ... is it copyright? (grin)

  11. Welcome Katie!!! Some of my bestest buds are UMC!
    A. Lin. Thoughts and prayers are with you. I am preaching this Sunday and the 27th for prospective calls.
    I love children's ministry!!!I wish we had more calls for associates in that field.
    So sorry you are in the hormonal hell stage. Yuck!
    Oh, sermon title for this week is On the Road Again (sorry Willie!) and my focus is the fact that the guys got up and went back to Jereusalem, though it was late, very dangerous out. Their news and story was so important that they had to share it...right then.
    Oh and yes, CR, I ahve totally changed where i was going with this!

  12. I'm relatively new to Revgalblogpals and loving it. I'm using the Luke text and relating it to Caravaggio's painting. (I prefer his 2nd version as found in Milan.) I'll have the pix at the back of the sanctuary and will use a blank canvas up front to encourage reflection on our own moments of transformation and realization. I agree with freeflyingspirit and walking the talk. My initial musings are here
    and more will hopefully follow tomorrow.

  13. Interesting thoughts? I will be preaching on this passage on sunday. I have titled it Holy Heartburn, yes I stole the title.

    I also preached on this before, and will find it and maybe do some reworking. I continue to look at what it means to be Easter People.

    I'll be blogging about this passage all week in my blog :Preaching to the Choir. I also posted a cartoon and thoughts on my :st john rev abi, at Easter Walk.

    And welcome Katie, don't just lurk come blog and play. Thanks for sharing. Good thoughts you all.

  14. Um, I haven't started yet but I am thinking of something along the lines of our inability to believe w/o God's intervention. It is self-revelation that makes Jesus known and it is entirely a gift from God. My congregants are pretty concerned about "saving souls" so I want to remind them that it is God who moves within and without us that will actually bring us to the revelation of faith.

  15. Having just spent the past week working on a Walk to Emmaus retreat, I am overwhelmed once again by the power of God's love lived out in the life of the Church. Perhaps that is why I saw something in this week's texts that I've never seen before.
    After wading (no pun intended) through all the blood in 1 Peter, I came to verse 22, which says, "love one another deeply from the heart." I plan to make reference to the Emmaus text, but I think I'm going to focus on the salvific power of God's love working through regular people. The earliest Christians were recognized by the agape love they showed each other and others. I think today's Church could sure use a lesson in loving God's way!

  16. here are some pix for starters. I find that art evokes new ideas of old texts.
    Here is my current favorite - love seeing them step off the known path as they walk with Jesus.

  17. Good thoughts everybody!
    I wish I coudl take all of you with me to this church and we could preach a dialogue sermon all together.
    We could ahve a table set up and coffee in Revgalmugs (or tea) jsut like Regis and Keely or on the View.
    We would be cool


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