The church thinks a lot of evangelism. How do we reach the least and the lost? How do we present Christ in a compelling way to unbelievers? Evangelism is an exciting business. Hopefully, we all have seen people whose life has been radically transformed by the good news of Jesus Christ. We see them go from a nominal life to a joyful life. There is the joy of the Lord within them. This carries on for a while, but it seems like that many people move from that joyful life to a new nominalism that is masked as acceptable faith. We may still go to church and read our Bible, but we don’t have that deep relationship. Others of us may stop going to church except when culturally acceptable (holidays or to see someone perform). Most critically, our inward relationship categorized by joy, love, and intimacy has become like a a old high school friend who we haven’t talked to in years, but we follow them on Twitter. We know what is going on in their life, but we aren’t involved in their life.
Today, true church growth is seen not in total numbers, but in new converts. Don’t tell me how many new members you have, but tell me how many of those new members are new to faith. We like transfers, but we love converts. I think our intentionality in reaching those who are lost is tremendous and a definitive mission of the church. If we do not continue to create new disciples of Jesus Christ, we are not fulfilling the mission of Jesus Christ.
However, the church of today needs to be passionate about re-evangelism. We need to be re-intentonal about opening the floodgates of God’s love for people who have lost or are losing the intimacy of relationship with Jesus Christ. I guess my question is how do we do this? Here are a few of my thoughts…
We confess our failure as a Church that we have not loved and empowered them to a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. Last Spring, I did an internship at a Hispanic worship service. One evening at a worship service, a particular young woman who I had not seen before was asked to come forward to be prayed for. She was pregnant, unmarried, and broken. The Pastor asked the ladies in the congregation to come forward and pray for her. Much of it wasn’t translated for us, nor did it need to be, but the pastor communicated the failure of the church that did not stay with this young lady through her tough time. The church needs to be real that when we communicate that being a disciple consists of coming to worship and going to Sunday School every week, we fail them about what it means to follow Jesus.
We need to remind people about why they fell in love with Jesus in the first place. There is something about true grace and holiness that people yearn for. We need to communicate sin and convey grace. We need to embrace them as a community where they are, but at the same time remind them of the promise of joy and peace that is intimacy with Jesus.
We need to provide public experiential expressions of reaffirming and recommitting ourselves to Christ. As United Methodist, we have two structures in place that are for that purpose: Wesley’s Covenant Service and Reaffirmation of Baptism. However, we can’t just doing these as lifeless rituals, but we must provide baptismal joy that is accompanied with them. These rituals can be both bodily and verbally expressive of the inward intent of the heart. Creativity and passion is needed in these areas.
Re-evangelism is a great need for the church. It is not about stealing members from another church, but it is about re-acquainting people with their Lord and Savior, and communicating and equipping people with tools to maintain a vital relationship that is based on intimacy.