Evangelism as a “practice”

Another quote for thought from Stone’s book, “Evangelism after Christendom“… This one is heavy…

The problems involved in thinking about evangelism as a practice, therefore, are not only strategic but ultimately theological. The argument of this book is that the prevailing model of practical reasoning employed to a great extent by contemporary evangelism is inadequate to the Christian faith, ecclesiologically bankrupt, morally vacuous, and tyrannized by a means-end causality that is eschatologically hopeless insofar as it externalizes the means from the end. The way this usually works is that once the aim of evangelism is asserted in terms of converting, initiating, recruiting, or persuading, strategies are developed and implemented, typically on the basis of their strictly utilitarian value in reaching that end.  Both the “end” and the “means” then tyrannize the church as it is forced to forget itself and the One whom it follows in the name of both the end and the means. In the process, the church’s fundamental calling to bear faithful witness is edged out in favor of what “works.” Moreover, we who have been made witnesses by the Holy Spirit fail to be guided in our practice by Spirit-formed virtues such as love, hope, faith, presence, patience, humility and courage, for “witness” has now been hijacked by an evangelism that turns it into a tool employed as a means to something else – namely the converting or initiating of other persons. Evangelism finds it all too easy to jump ahead to some imagined result and then to adjust the meaning of witness in accordance with what will “work” to achieve that result.  It forgets that Christian witnesses engage in the practice of evangelism for no other reason than that they have been made witnesses.

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