Monergistic Evangelism

JesusChurchDoesntSuckI never cease to be amazed at how misunderstood Evangelism is in the modern Church. I mean, I get why; the reasons are part of the socio-religious history of the North American Christian experience as well as very much a part and parcel of human nature as expressed in our fallen state.

What it is: The literal delivery of the “evangel” (Gospel) to people.

What it is not: A means by which through your work and techniques you can convince, cajole, argue, or manipulate people into the Kingdom.

This is basic. I don’t mean basic in that it is easy or un-profound. Rather, it is basic in that it is fundamental. It is foundational. It changes everything that is laid upon it. Prior to having any conversation about what evangelism is, one must know what one believes it to be. And in order to know that, one must know how one believes one is saved.

For example, if one believes that one is saved through the completely unearned action of Christ, without any merit of one’s own – that is -by grace alone, then everything in one’s approach should reflect that. So, if one believes that salvation comes completely freely, then one must ask how that salvation is communicated to people.

We call that the means of grace.

Therefore, where the means of grace are, there shall be salvation, and aside from them shall there not be salvation. Follow?

If the means of grace are, say, Word and Sacrament, then it is through Word and Sacrament that salvation is distributed. To seek it elsewhere is thus to confess that one does not actually believe it is there in the first place, or at the very least it is not only found there.

The Scriptures teach us that God is found where He promises to be, and He promises to be where God gathers His children to distribute Word and Sacrament. He does not promise to be elsewhere.

Can you see the massive implications for evangelism methodology? Can you see how different takes on these questions would necessarily lead to different approaches?

If one does not believe this, one might seek God anywhere. God is omnipresent, He is everywhere, but the question is truly “Is He there in that part of creation for you?”

It is through His active will that the world exists. He is surely present in His creation. But what does this mean for those that seek God “On a mountaintop, in nature, in the experience of serving an elderly woman, etc.?”

The God of the Bible is a God who works through means. He always interacts with His people through those means. He feeds us, secures us, and shelters us through the means of vocation as we serve eachother; He allows birth and growth through the means of the natural processes He has so ordered, and He provides for the salvation of His people through Word and Sacrament.

But what if I don’t believe that?

What if I believe in some other theology of justification and the means of grace?

Well, I might believe that if only I have the correct arguments against evolution, people might be saved. I might believe that if only I could get the youth engaged in a kicking youth group they might not lapse in their attendance once they went to college. I might believe that if only we had a “better” service, with cooler music that people would flock to Christ’s banner. I might even believe that if only we had a really well-developed “outreach” program that we could bring a great revival.

I might believe a great many things that focus on me and my work, in fact.

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