Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A "good message"

Growing up in the Bible belt I was exposed to a healthy portion of good o'le Southern Baptist doctrine. And one of the staples of southern conservative Christianity is Evangelism. Few faith groups in America are as good at sharing their faith and message to gain converts as Baptists. (However, as I understand it, the Mormons have us beat.)

As I have made my way through seminary I have gotten a taste of the more moderate flavors of the Baptists pie. One thing I have noticed is that Evangelism looks quite different in a moderate Baptist church. You might say that moderate baptists have shied away from 'traditional' Baptist evangelism for fear of appearing to be Southern Baptist. And this trend has impacted me in one way or another. I have found myself more removed from teaching about evangelism or faith sharing. I have even found myself keeping away from the "E" word all together. and this is regrettable.

However, recently I have found a renewed appreciation for euaggelizo. We get the word "evangelism" by transliterating the Greek word seen above. When taken apart, the Greek word euaggelizo is made up of two parts.

The first word, "eu" is a prefix meaning "good." It is the same as the "eu" prefix in the word 'eulogy' (meaning "good word") or 'euthanasia' (meaning "good death").

The second part of the word, aggelos, is the word from which we get "angel." It literally means, "messenger."

So when put together "good" and "message" become "the good message" or "good news." The verb would be "to share the good news."

I don't know how or why, but somehow this understanding of the word helps me to come back to a healthy respect for what evangelism is. I helps me to disassociate evangelism with overly anxious Bible thumping street preachers that preach more condemnation than grace and re-associate it with a genuine telling of something that is good and worth while.

If you have been like me and strayed away from traditional evangelism, perhaps you can join me on the shore of genuine faith sharing that isn't concerned with counting baptisms or one-hit-conversions .

In my opinion, meaningful evangelism is done through life giving relationships with people and with Jesus the Anointed One rather than through reciting a prayer or walking down the Roman Road. From Jesus' own mouth we know that faith sharing is important, but I hope we can hold an honest picture of what that looks like.

However we do so, let's be sure to share the good message.


Anonymous said...

Religion has really confused you. You have a lot of false dichotomies and faulty foundations in your understanding of the Gospel. Re-read your post and you will see them.

Also, imagine if I said to someone "your kids are at the neighbors house"... you might think "well, ok, I didn't really give them permission to go over there though". Now if I started my conversation by saying "there was a terrible explosion at your house becuse you never fixed that gas line, the whole thing burned up in a raging ball of fire"... now the news that your kids are at the neighbors becomes really good news!

In hte same way if we tell people, "Jesus loves you and died for you", most greedy, self sufficeint westerners will treat is like the first response I stated. If we start by shoing them how sinful their sin is to God, and how Christ died in our spot anyway for us now the good news of Christ becomes really good news.

Check out the Modern American Christianity message by Baptist missionary Paul Washer at

Gods best to you, like a dozy driver who awakens to his car going off the road, dont over-react and swerve out of control to the other side. There is error and danger on both sides. Turn off the tv, entertainment, or anything else that takes your time away from God and seek to abide with Him on the highway of holiness.


Chad Reed said...

I'm glad Jim has things figured out...

I always thought that my Southern Baptist understanding of "evangelism" had to be done in a way that made me feel uncomfortable. I was neither an extrovert nor a salesman, thus it should be no surprise that I scored very low on it on my "spiritual gifts inventory," and thus wrote it off as a task that God didn't gift or assign me with.

A re-definition of evangelism *cough...JIM* is necessary to motivate people like Nathan and myself to get back in the game. Nathan, Jim, should read "Evangelism Without Additives" by Jim Henderson. It is a book about evangelizing while being yourself. Yes, it is possible, and may I argue, more authentic than the traditional model.