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Plain and Simple for Sept. 9, 2010 / September 07, 2010
I remember my best friend in Texas where I got my Ph.D. in religion at Baylor University. Bob always said that he could be the world’s best salesman as long as he truly believed in the product that he was selling. I believe that he was correct in his assessment. He bought a Mazda while he was there and grew to love it. He traded up in models and eventually convinced me to buy one. Bob never consciously set out to sell me a car; it was simply that he believed in the one he drove.

The same thing was true of Process Theology. Bob majored in theology and was enamored of Process Theology. I was a Church History man and was interested in theology only so far as it influenced events in history. The infernal nuances of the different debates did not charm me. Process Theology was a modern theological movement that I found totally disengaging. There was nothing about it that I wanted to know beyond the most basic ideas. Nonetheless, Bob was able to reel me and convince me to write a term paper on it because of his love for it.

As I have spent my time recently studying more and more on evangelism, I have thought more and more about Bob. It seems to me that the Christians of the early church were very much like Bob in their evangelistic outreach. If you read the accounts in the bible and in historical records, you discover that they did not go out with the intent of handing out religious tracts or doing their duty or being good little girls and boys. No, they were excited about this Jesus Christ that they had met in their own lives and they could not wait to share him with people whom they met in their everyday life.

In the church today, we tend to think of evangelism in relation to committees and outreach programs and special events. The early church did it in the course of everyday life. Let me see if I can explain the difference. If you were going to recommend a favorite restaurant or movie or football game to a friend, would you nominate a special committee to do it? Or would it be something that would come up in the course of normal life? If Christ and the church are something you love, then consider those who are closest to you. Why can’t you find the right time to recommend them to your friends?

I do not believe that it is wrong to have evangelism training programs. They can be extremely useful. But we need to get past the idea that evangelism is something we do only at certain times and only experts do it. The evangelism that conquered the world was more like what my friend Bob did. He told people what he was excited about and they got excited, too.

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