Sunday, November 30, 2003

Some thoughts on evangelism

William Brandes wrote:

“This is dying-and-rising, transformational stuff we're talking about!”
Actually, that is what marketing is about. Very important that you don't mix-up marketing and promotion. Folks do it all the time and give the focus and inventiveness, the transformational ability of marketing a bad gloss. No matter the organization. No matter your journey, marketing is a very valuable tool. Saddle Back understands it. Willow Creek does too. And, so do any number of organizations and congregations willing to focus on what business they are in.

My response:
Yes, transformational dying-and-rising! As I've previously pointed out, even the gods of the Egyptians could do the fireworks, but there were a couple of things those other gods didn't do: unconditional, unevoked and gracious presence with their people, and - resurrection from the dead!

During the 2001-2002 academic year, as I was listening in my marketing classes for the Community Economic Development program at San Diego State, I kept thinking (really!) about how I could apply some of the concepts we were learning about to the church and specifically to evangelism, though since then I'd hardly given it a thought until we began considering Willow Creek and Purpose-Drivenness on this forum. We're always cautious to admit it's not about sheer numbers, but without at least some of those numbers how far can our evangelism reach?

And we emphasize that for Jesus, since it wasn't about the signs and wonders but rather about the Sign of Jonah: death - and resurrection - and about God-with-us, God-among-us, we're not supposed to shout from the rooftops about all of those visibly spectacular miracles. I cannot get beyond the fact that, for me, the sacraments remain both the most hidden and understated as well as the most transparent evidence of the way God prefers to work among and within the people and those megachurches, despite emphasizing the Word, for the most part neglect the sacraments (aside from insisting on so-called believer's baptism). I'm still thinking that in order to say anything fair about Purpose-Drivenness I really need to read what the movement is saying about itself, instead of extrapolating my own imaginings on what they're doing.

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