bits from bob....

Rethinking Evangelism--#1

by Robert J. Young
©, 2002, Robert J. Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

Among astute observers, there is almost unanimous agreement that people are constantly changing the way they think about religion, church membership, reasons for attending church, and evangelism. Traditional American methods of evangelism have been in a state of rapid change for almost half a century. From the 1950s and 1960s emphasis on campaigns, crusades, and gospel meeting efforts which more much fruit, to the mass media explosion of the late 1960s and early 1970s, the focus in the late 1970s and 1980s moved to "body life" evangelism, "discipling," "side- door" evangelism, and "individual" evangelism. The 1980s and 1990s provided friendship evangelism, conversational evangelism, worship evangelism, and multiplied other variations on the basic themes of the last quarter of the century. Today's evangelism vocabulary speaks of webs, networks, cells, small groups, and relationships.

Many are concerned that we hear of fewer gospel meetings, tent meetings, mass evangelism endeavors, annual evangelistic campaigns, and revivals or crusades, thinking that such means evangelism is dead. Evangelism is not dead. Evangelism in the first decade of the new millennium is as hot as ever, and perhaps even hotter as the Baby Boomers continue to return to church and events in our world focus the need for God. Concern for families, search for meaning, and increased spiritual focus are signs of the times. The old techniques, however, will seldom be on the "cutting edge" of effective outreach in American culture. Effective new ways are being developed which are reaching the lost and the unchurched for Christ in previously unheard of numbers. While not all of these new methods are biblical, the good news for churches of Christ with a strong commitment to biblical authority is that a majority of the new strategies which are most effective are solidly based in the message of Scripture.

The next three articles focus on three of the major concerns of today's unchurched American, and examine how the church can effectively minister in reaching out to countless friends and neighbors in every community across this nation.

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Last updated January 23, 2002.