In This Issue
“If you don’t have any friends who disagree with you, you are putting yourself in danger,” Ed Stetzer writes, encouraging intentional engagement. “Have you built a relationship with someone from a different political party, a different race, different ethnicity, different views on major issues in our culture? If the answer is no, how are you being an ambassador if all you’re doing is hanging around with other people who are in the same kingdom as you?” Don’t let the spirit of the age suck you into isolation or animosity toward those outside the household of faith. Stetzer parses a redemptive response to the age of rage, and you’ll find it in the Sept/Oct Outreach.
Some people launch evangelism by asking: “What would happen to you if you were to die tonight?” For John Ortberg, a better question is: “What would happen if you don’t die tonight? What will you do with your life the next day?’” That’s a compelling opening and a powerful close to our outreach discussions. Evangelism isn’t just a fire insurance transaction, it’s an invitation to really live. Now.
Andy Stanley can’t remember a single person he’s met who became a Christian because of “biblical gymnastics.” “People turn to Jesus,” he has concluded, “because they reach the end of themselves. They are given a simple gospel presentation, and something happens inside them. They cry out to God, who answers that cry. Over time, they gain an appreciation for the Bible’s backstory.”
No stranger to controversy, Stanley has argued that beginning from the posture of “the Bible says so” is not particularly effective in this cultural setting. This is the next chapter: Because the new covenant supersedes the old, there are implications for how we tell the story, how we frame the appeal, how we frontload the argument. Stanley takes a dozen pages to make his case in The Outreach Interview.
What will it take to make outreach organic and evangelism natural? Ask this guy: “My life mission statement is short and easy to remember: To reach the lost and teach the found to reach the lost,” says Kevin Harney, who pastors Shoreline Community Church in Monterey, California. Over the past three decades Harney has also led outreach training for leaders from Los Angeles to La Libertad, El Salvador. He has spoken about evangelism to groups from Tauranga, New Zealand, to Amsterdam, Netherlands. So naturally, evangelism, for him, is easy and outreach organic, right? Uh, no.
“If I don’t fan the flame and stay attentive to outreach, my heart can grow cold and my evangelistic activity wane.” Momentum stalls, distractions come, drift happens. But Kevin Harney has some thoughts about overcoming the pervasive obstacles to outreach.
These are the concepts that drive the Sept/Oct issue. All this, plus … church-tested outreach ideas, perspectives on leadership and much more. Don’t miss the Sept/Oct Outreach magazine.