Evangelism for Normal People Week 3 – Evangelism in Community

What hopefully started to take shape last week:

  • When we think of Evangelism we think of something an individual does
    • Person on the street corner with a megaphone, person in an arena leading revival, us going door to door in our neighborhoods
      • All those cases involve an individual going up to a stranger and discussing the specifics of salvation with them
    • That’s not the Biblical example of evangelism
      • A few exceptions – Jesus a few times (we’ll look at next week), Phillip and the Ethiopian (we’ll look at in several weeks), and then of course the big one – Paul
        • But! – what does Paul do? Starts churches. Who does Paul write to? Churches. What does he write about? Not how individuals can go reach the un-believers but how they should live in community and how that example will serve the kingdom
  • In the OT evangelism is something that Israel does as a community
    • In the New Testament we see Jesus establishing a new community and then calling people to be part of it

Mark 1: 14-20

  • Saying the kingdom is near does two things.

1) It reminds them that they’ve fallen short of being the kingdom the were supposed to be already

  • We talked last week about how few people were converted by Israel’s example

2) Promises them that something new is coming, and that new thing is going to give them the opportunity to get it right this time

  • Inviting twelve disciples makes that clear – Israel hasn’t had twelve tribes since 734 bc but in choosing 12 disciples Jesus shows he’s thinking in terms of the restoration of Israel
    • Jesus was reconstituting the people of Israel and calling the nation to be who they had always been called to be

Mark 3: 13-35

  • This community is the making of a new family. Jesus doesn’t call the disciples into isolation, he calls them into a new family of brothers
    • Includes Levi and Simon, two political opposites, and expects them to break bread together
  • As Jesus goes around and speaks some people join him, but a bigger number stay behind but presumably are changed by what they hear. They begin to live differently and become a new type of community or family
    • What does this mean for evangelism? In the gospels the message of evangelism is not just about how we relate to God, its also about a new way of being family. The gospel message is communicated by the lives of the community, not just preaching.
      • What does that mean? For our churches it means we need to grow as families centered on God and doing the will of God. We speak the message but we also live it out

The problem – most of our communities become closed

  • How many of us came to faith the first time we walked into a church?
    • My guess (and my experience) is that belonging came before believing. We were raised in church or invited to church and grew into faith through being part of the community
      • Being a youth minister at a big concert – no way to get people into a community, who knows what stuck
        • What Jesus does in the gospels is invite people to be part of the community, to interact and ask questions, to feel things out in a safe place

The community that Jesus creates in the Gospels gives room for people to come and experience and become interested. Some people come and immediately are all in, some leave in disgust, some take a while to come around. How do we become more like that? How do we take seriously our commitment to worship and following Jesus on the one hand while being open to folks who are curious on the other?

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