evangelism . . . being yourself?

Jim Henderson, Seattle-area evangelism guru, friend and director of Off-the-Map (not the Muppet guy – that was “Henson”) has a new book coming out on June 21st: a. k. a. “Lost”: discovering ways to connect with the people Jesus misses most

 

 

 

One of the questions Jim asks is, “What if ‘evangelism’ meant being yourself?” 

 

Yes, I said the E-word; but Jim said it first!  Jim boldly goes where many in the avant-church conversation fear to tread.  This maybe one of the first “evangelism texts” I have seen, written for those with serious doubts about the role modern evangelistic strategies play in the lives of Christ-followers. 

 

The book could almost be seen as a field guide for fostering real & mutually transforming connections. 

 

After reading the book, one of the thoughts that came to my mind was that everyone in the world is an evangelist.  The question is: “What is the news we share?”  If breathing and sneezing are inevitable . . . “What germs are we carrying?” 

 

One of the challenges with the notion that, “evangelism is being ourselves” (us in Christ/Christ in us) is that so few of us want to be ourselves; all too often we live with some “grass-is-greener-on-the-side” vision of self-hood.  This “grass-is-greener-selfhood” could lead to a faux-Christianity where we “sell” something scarcely embodied but “evangelism as ‘being ourselves'” sounds a lot like Christ’s invitation to a “full life.”  As my friend Len says, ‘witness’ may be better understood as ‘withness.’ 

 

The book works from a bold premise that Christians could actually trust that God will work in them and through them by the Holy Spirit.  Western Christians seem increasingly ready for this kind of trust, even though we have a history of leaning on proven programs rather than risk being personally/communally present.  The text works from a robust pneumatology.

 

I hope Jim’s book will spur even more people to think creatively and practically about what it means to shape the ethos of a person/community/globe by the gift of our own presence. 

 

peace, dwight

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4 comments
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  1. "What if ‘evangelism’ meant being yourself?"

    Considering how many ‘Christians’ choose to live their lives, this could be a rather scary proposition. :O

  2. Dwight

    Thanks for making space for me and my ideas in your blog. I think you captured the essence of my idea when you say its all about being yourself. And your comments about faux self are right on- which is what the earlier commentor is lamenting.

    I like to tell people that I spend my time trying to teach Christians how to be normal and if we could get there – then evangelism as we know it would disappear – it would just be part of us

    Thanks

    BTW – My book is available on June 7th it looks like on amazon http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1578569141/qid=1117645551/sr=2-1/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_1/002-0010766-0958427

  3. Dwight,

    Thanks for throwing another book my way to explore. I’ve seen Jim speak and offer thoughts on this last year at an Emergent gathering.

    I’ve thought about this "being-myself" evangelist so much recently. What I’m finding is that I must listen to what the Spirit is speaking to me in conversation with people as well as when I am alone thinking/praying about a person who comes to mind.

    So, the Spirit will use me in relationships to be an "evangelist"…if I listen. I also wonder about the question "What would my [best friend, parents, mentor, etc.] say right now? Is it a good question to ask? For example, I’m talking to this guy, but at the same time I’m thinking about something another person said in a similar situation. Why am I thinking about what she/he said right now? I think I’ve heard you talk about this before–the lasting presence or "spirit" of another person’s ongoing influence in your life. It interested me when you mentioned this.

    Thanks for the further thoughts and book recommendation.

    Peace.

    Jon

  4. great thoughts. thanks for highlighting this book. look forward to reading it.