Friday, July 14, 2017

The Message and Mission of Evangelism

Friday, July 14, 2017
“Listen, O heavens, and I will speak!  Hear, O earth, the words that I say!  Let my teaching fall on you like rain; let my speech settle like dew.  Let my words fall like rain on tender grass, like gentle showers on young plants.  I will proclaim the name of the Lord; how glorious is our God!  He is the Rock; his deeds are perfect.  Everything he does is just and fair.  He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright he is!  Deuteronomy 32:1-4(NLT)
Holy Scripture is all about God – who He is, and what He’s about.  In Scripture we also learn who we are, and what God wants us to do.  It’s that plain and simple.  As a way of life God wants His people to share with others this good message of God.
Recently, Laura Auten, who is the District Superintendent of that part of the United Methodist Church in which I serve, shared some thoughts about evangelizing which deserve the attention of every believer/follower of Jesus Christ.  Laura wrote about the method and mission of sharing this Good News effectively:
“Dear friends, one of my summer practices is to have morning coffee on the back patio at the parsonage before the day gets too hot.  The birds, flowers and trees in my backyard bring a peaceful beginning to my day. The birds fly from tree to shrub, back and forth, calling and singing.  Gil Rendle uses the image of birds searching for food to explain the church's necessary focus on Jesus' unchanging mission for the world.  Rendle says that the intent of birds do not change.  They are looking for food!  However, birds will adapt how and where they look for food.  This food can be found in many locations, even different locales depending on the weather.  And, bird food comes in different forms:  fancy bird feeder food, bugs, grass or worms! The basic mission never changes, but the strategy for achieving the mission is constantly changing and is flexible and adaptable.
“Congregations of disciples would do well to remember the birds!  As followers of Jesus, we have a mission that never changes, to make disciples of Christ who transform the world.  More precisely, it is God who makes disciples and we point the way for others to know and love Christ.  We show others where we have found food and nourishment!  How wonderful that the strategies and the ways to witness to and serve Christ are bountiful and infinite![ii]
Did you note that Laura didn’t hold up a program or a three-step, sure-fire process for evangelizing?  Listen again: 
The basic mission never changes,
but the strategy for achieving the mission
is constantly changing and is flexible and adaptable…
We show others where we have found food and nourishment!
This is so very like what Bishop D.T. Niles liked to quote:
Christianity is one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread.[iii]
For Methodists who have a particular affinity for the covered dish supper, (and what true Methodist doesn’t?), this ought to be a slam-dunk, understandable concept.  After all, we know food!

For You Today

When you’ve found good food (or Good News), let the other beggars you know in on your secret!
You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road…have a blessed day!

[i] Title Image:
[ii] Laura Auten, District Superintendent, Uwharrie District of the United Methodist Church, Vital Web email, July 2017
[iii] D.T. NILES, New York Times, May 11, 1986

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