Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Outreach and Evangelism: One and the Same??

Tim Challies has some really helpful comments about "outreach" and "evangelism" today, in his article called, "Evangelism & The Sovereignty of God". Some highlights include:

"There is clearly a significant difference between outreach and evangelism. They are both noble actions and bring honor to God. It is important to realize, and this should be clear through the descriptions, that they are not synonymous. The greatest difference is that evangelism is primarily a message while outreach is primarily an action."

and

"The message is delivered not through outreach, but through evangelism. It is simple enough to attract people to a message through outreach, and we can gather a large group of people through simple outreach, but we may not have evangelized them, even if they fill the pews of our churches."

and

"Do you wish to fulfill our Lord's great commission? Then go boldly, sharing this foolish, offensive gospel message, knowing that it carries in it the very power of God. Trust and believe that in so doing you are bringing honor to our Lord and Savior and doing your part to build His Kingdom. Reach out to the lost, but ensure that you always leave them with the message of the gospel. Actions may draw them, but words are necessary to convey the message through which God saves His people."

This article has made my mind chase around the motives and methods of such programs as Pioneer Girls, Alpha, and our Kick-off Sundays or Stampede Breakfasts.

What are your thoughts on his article?

4 comments:

ReneeM said...
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ReneeM said...

hmmm... you really want to know... well I'll try not to comment a whole entire post!! LOL

I mostly agree. Though a side note he possibly included in the complete work, would be that often times evangelism CAN be ineffective without outreach (actions)- they will know we are Christians by our love... our actions. of each other. of the way we love the world unconditionally through Christ's love. AND yet, I agree. too often we stop at the "outreaches" - and never tell them the whole reason we want to reach out!! I really think evangelism now a days, in general, works best through relationships. And we are often too busy in programs to build relationships with those such as our neightbors, co-workers... etc.

I tend to not like "programs" in general. just because our human nature and church culture tends to focus in on the programs as the be all and end all of church life and "evangelism" ... and now I am side tracking. so I'll stop.

Thanks for the thought provoking post!

martha_martha said...

I don't have a big problem with church programs as long as the goal is not just to get people in, but also to clearly articulate the gospel. Unfortunately, I think Challies is right in his assessment that most churches just focus on having full pews or great turnout to events... something we all need to guard against, even in churches where the gospel is central... numbers are attractive and easier to point to as success than heart change, but if there's no heart change, there may as well be empty pews!

I'm not sure if Brown Cow is available all over Canada... if so, you probably have to go to a health/natural foods store to find it (most supermarkets have a very limited selection of whole yogurt).

Marlene S. said...

Renee, it's interesting that you point out the need for both actions and words. Ultimately that is what Paul, Christ, James, etc. were exorting us to do, I think. We need to live in obedience to the Word and thereby give credance (sp?) to the words that we speak, don't we. Ah that I would faithfully do that with every breath and opportunity God grants me :) Blessings, sister.

martha_martha, thanks for the tip. I'll check out the dairy section a little more intently the next time I head to our local health store.