Good News Announcing

evangelism….

For some, the mere mention of the word evangelism births a deep trepidation and a shaking fear within them as images of tweed suits, ties, and bible-bashing door knocking flow through their mind. Others chuckle at the awkward and forced conversations they’ve had in the name of sharing their faith. And there are still others for whom a well thought out evangelistic program is foundational to their church expression.

Why are some people so committed to evangelism……usually manifested in (a) intensely regimented programs involving military like-plans, pamphlets, charts/graphs, and questionnaires, or (b) an other-worldly testimony expressed in exclusively Christian language that no one really understands (Christianese)…….and others completely turned off to it? So many in emerging, progressive, post-traditional churches have completely shut themselves off to the idea of “doing evangelism.” And others, in traditional, evangelical, conservative churches agree with evangelism in principle, but don’t really know what it means.

I  was talking with some friends of mine a few weeks back, and the conversation turned to evangelism. Most of the group wasn’t particularly keen on the idea of “evangelism”…at least not in the sense it is typically understood. My mind, as it does most of the time now, had all kinds of incoherent Greek bouncing around inside. I am taking Attic Greek, the literary dialect predating the common Greek the NT was written, and so I haven’t studied many biblical words. But I began to think about the word from which we get the Latinized “evangelize, evangalism, evangelist,” etc. That word is ευαγγέλιον (euangelion). Now, I haven’t studied the word, but was able to break it apart into two words I had studied in class: (eu-angelion) ευ-good, well and αγγέλιον-message, announcement.

It was then that I realized that evangelism is a whole lot simpler than we make it out to be. To evangelize is simply to make a good announcement. To proclaim good news.

Evangelism, by its very nature, is a telling of good news. It is not in its nature a discourse in systematic theology and atonement theory drawn on a napkin, nor is it a vague mystical testimony that requires an interpreter. It is neither too dense nor too thin for practical use. It is good news.

You see, I think we’ve had such a hard time with evangelism, not because evangelism is bad, but because we have misunderstood what it really is. And that brings us to something deeper—perhaps we have misunderstood evangelism because we have failed to fully understand the gospel—the good news. We have flatten the gospel (the good news) so that we can wrap our minds around it, but in the process we have lost so much of “good” of the good news.

As I work through a class on evangelism with the teens/young adults on Wednesday nights, I’ll record some of those thoughts here, and we’ll see if you can’t cut through some of our cataracts so that we may clearly see might mine the depths of the good news.

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