God Help Me, I Might Be an Evangelist!

Evangelist {e-VAN-gel-ist} (n.)

1. Someone who believes in evangelism as a method of spreading Christianity. Ex: The evangelist crossed the road.

2. Someone who recruits others to believe/practice the way that he does. Ex: I don’t walk the dog when my neighbor is sitting on his porch – he’s an evangelist.

3. Someone (recognized by Apple) that promotes Apple products (I swear I’m not making that up! Look it up!) Ex: “The most well-known Apple evangelist is ex-Apple-employee Guy Kawasaki. Kawasaki is credited as being one of the first to use evangelistic methods to promote a computer brand through a blog.”

 

(courtesy of cartoon stock.com)

I’ve never (EVER!) wanted to be confused as “an evangelist.”

I’ve never been comfortable with the idea that I have answers that other people need. Even when (I think) I do have “answers”, I’ve always felt it was a faulty pretense to a conversation to assume that I could convince them they wanted to be less like themselves and more like me.

Sure felt like a lotta pressure.

(Photo Courtesy of Brian P. Gallagher)

 

“Saving” Evangelism

This past week, Tony Jones* referred to a study done by the Barna Group which concluded that conservative evangelical churches are losing formerly–affiliated “young creatives:” Actors, artists, biologists, designers, mathematicians, medical students, musicians, and writers.

Though there some stances of the conservative church takes that to little surprise alienates these young creatives (an opposition to science being a major one), I think this problem extends to the more mainline churches too.

And I would suggest that the way we tend to evangelize – under the premises of us vs. them, “selling” them a product that they’re not even convinced they need – plays a huge role in that.

 

 

(Photo courtesy of Judah Gabriel)

 

 

Listening to *Doug Pagitt’s radio podcast (“Religious radio that’s not quit right”) the other day, I was relieved to find that there might be hope not just “the Church” but also for a young creative Christian like me.

In talking about his new book, “Evangelism in the Inventive Age”, Pagitt said, evangelism (has become) “this practice of recruiting someone else to take on your perspective or your practice.”

 

 

Has Evangelism Been Saved?

Under current evangelism, we are implying that people should stop being THEM and convert to YOU.

Pagitt is clear that this “evangelism” is not what it began as, nor what it should be now:

Evangelism oughtta be when you help a person find the harmony of God in them in such a way that their life can be made more full as who THEY are… Evangelism outght not to be about conversion but about RESSONANCE.

 

The reason we live in community, he says, is to be reminded that what we know is powerful.

And what we know is incomplete.

Being among others, then, adds to, completes, and rounds out what we know. Evangelism is including somebody into the process of seeking God.

So Now What?

For what it’s worth – I tend to be so vain that I think the song is about me – maybe the church would be better served to be reaching out not under the paradigm that “they” need us and focus on the fact that we, as people actively seeking of God, need them.

From the young & creative to the old & boring and everywhere in between, I think the proper enhancing of Christianity and the realm of God comes most effectively when we love our neighbor not for their benefit, but for ours.

This re-claimed version of evangelism reminds me to consider that I do believe in enhancing the realm of Christianity, and provides for me a platform to say that I am indeed an evangelist.

And, frankly, I’m excited!

God help me – help me to sincerely love and include others with the sincerity of someone actively seeking your face – I’m an evangelist. Amen.

 

Footnote

*I am a proud alum of the first ever SocialPhonics Social Media Summer Camp under the tutelage of emergent church (or is it Emergent Church) leaders Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt. As an aspiring blogger and an aspiring authentic Christian, I actively follow them – Tony’s blog and Doug’s radio show.

It’s the aspiring blogger in me that has tried to not link (literally) with them just for the sake of name dropping or generating traffic, but today, I couldn’t resist. I highly recommending following both of them (metaphorically and literally).