Thursday, March 16, 2006

Networking Evangelism

I found this PDF article by Tim Keller at the excellent resource page managed by Steve McCoy. Tim talks about the difficulties with most approaches to Friendship Evangelism. He suggests an alternative: Networking Evangelism.

Here are some excerpts:

A networking church is developed primarily through cultivating a mindset, a collective attitude and only secondarily through setting up programs.

A bringer will use the church as a plausibility structure to reach out to his or her web-network.

In a networking church, you must be either a seeker, a bringer, or a cell leader (follow-up) OR YOU ARE DEADWEIGHT!

There are four basic kinds of “web networks”: familial, geographical (neighborhood), vocational (career/school associates), relational (friends not necessarily in the other networks).

It is expected that the non-Christian will be exposed to the gospel at least several times on the way to commitment.

A networking church will discern, create, and keep track of “pathways” for the non-churched into the congregation.

(I suggest that you download the full article and keep it for reference.)

At first glance this seems to be the “seeker” model of Willow Creek and Saddleback. But it's really a different philosophy. Here’s an excerpt from
another article by Tim Keller:

We live in an increasingly "post-modern" society. The older modern society rejected revelation as a source of truth, but still honored reason/science as a source of truth. "Post-moderns" are more deeply secular and skeptical of any kind of truth at all…. In a "mixed" group, when the preacher speaks somewhat more to non-Christians, the Christians present learn how to share the faith. This is extremely important today. It is becoming increasingly difficult for Christians to just share the gospel without doing apologetics. The old canned quickie training programs cannot prepare a Christian for dealing with the range of intellectual and personal difficulties people have with the Christian faith.

They need to hear the preacher week in and week out dealing winsomely and intelligently with the problems of non-believers. This is excellent "training". On the other hand, when the preacher speaks more to Christians, the non-Christians present come to see how Christianity "works". More deeply secular "po-mo" non-Christians tend to decide on the faith on more pragmatic grounds. They do not examine in a detached intellectual way. They also are much more likely to make their commitment through a long process of mini-decisions. They will want to try Christianity on, see how it fits their problems and how it fleshes out in real life.

Any failure in behavior in Christians is due to unbelief. The antidote to unbelief is a fresh telling of the gospel. So, if a sermon is Christ-centered in its exposition and application, and if it is oriented toward a) dismantling the unbelief systems of the human heart, and toward b) re-explaining and using the gospel on the unbelief – then it will be highly illuminating to non-Christians even when it is aimed primarily to Christians.

(Keller also has some interesting things to say about math theory and the church. If you want to dig deeper check this out.)

This is heady stuff. Even my brain hurts. So what is your reaction?

Pastor Rod

“Helping you become the person God created you to be”

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