Re-Thinking Evangelism by Dallas Willard Discussion

An article published 11 years ago stirred some conversation on Twitter that prompted me to share it here in the hopes of continuing an important discussion on relevant evangelism.


Here are a few poignant quotes from the article:

“Much of evangelism today is rooted in a misunderstanding of salvation. People have been told they are Christians because they have confessed they believe that Jesus died for their sins, but the total package is presented in such a way that it leaves the general life untouched.

“What we want is not just evangelism that makes converts. We want disciples…and if you are intent on making disciples and keep on that track, evangelism will take care of itself.

“Three out of four people who make professions at crusades never show up in any church. That’s partly due to the fact that in our notions of evangelism today, being converted has nothing to do with community; it just has to do with your “personal relationship” with God.”

“How do you do “evangelism-discipleship?” My short answer: You ravish people with the blessings of the Kingdom. You make them hungry for it. That’s why words are so important—we must be wordsmiths. You use words to ravish people with the beauty of the kingdom. It’s the beauty of the kingdom that Jesus said was causing people to climb over each other just to get in. People become excited like the pearl-purchaser—they will give everything to get in.”

“So I think our preparation now makes a lot of difference. Once you get over the idea that you are going to be warehoused for all eternity when you die, lying about on shelves, listening to harp playing on Muzak, you can see how it makes a real difference.”

We have to recognize that most of what we say today does not cut through to real life, and we must find ways to do that. Generally speaking, we have to address the real needs of people—to understand those needs and to devise ways to help people understand that you are talking to them about their needs.”

Our challenge is to get those ideas into language that addresses what people see and experience every day, that helps them separate what is good and what is not good, that helps them understand what redemption from sin means today.”

Read the entire article here.

Share your thoughts in the comments: What did you like/dislike? How does this article speak to the changing realities of sharing the Gospel in today’s culture? 

The Blogference Day 3 Posts!

Welcome to The Blogference Day 3!

Here is the list of today’s posts:

Bridging the Gap Between 50 Year Olds and 20 Year Olds, by Brian Barela, in Leadership

Pursuing the Good in Ethnic Ministry, by Brian Virtue, in Leadership

Surviving vs. Thriving in College: What Do You Think It Takes? By Alex Chediak, in Leadership

Click on the title of each post to read it. To leave a comment, you will need to be logged into Facebook. When you post the comment you can choose whether or not to share your comment on your Facebook profile.

The Blogference Day 2 Posts!

Welcome to The Blogference Day 2!

Here is the list of today’s posts:

Are We Really Doing Great Co-Missional Campus Ministry?–By Daniel Curran, in Evangelism

Is it worth the trade?–By Karin Tome, in Leadership

12 Ways to Strengthen & Grow a Mobile Ministry Team–By Dana Byers, in Social Media

Sunday is Dying and That’s Fine With Me–By Vince Marrotte, in Leadership, Social Media

Click on the title of each post to read it. To leave a comment, you will need to be logged into Facebook. When you post the comment you can choose whether or not to share your comment on your Facebook profile.

The Blogference Day 1 Posts!

Welcome to The Blogference Day 1!

Here is the list of today’s posts:

Moms: The Unsung Heroes–By Stephanie Raquel, in Leadership

Would You Mind Me Telling You What I do With My Computer?–By Miheret Tilahun, in Social Media

What Form Will Your Leadership Take?–By Gary Run, in Leadership

The Future is Spanglish–By Destino Eric, in Evangelism

Click on the title of each post to read it. To leave a comment, you will need to be logged into Facebook. When you post the comment you can choose whether or not to share your comment on your Facebook profile.

The Future is Spanglish

Tremendous cultural shifts are taking place in America. Areas with historical demographic identities are changing before our very eyes:

As churches and ministries we can no longer afford to ignore the changes happening, no matter the region of the country in which we live. The question now is not whether we will reach Latinos, but how?

latino college studentOver the past three and a half years my wife and I, along with our team, have been working with the Destino Movement at a large state school in Texas. We’ve seen God do fantastic things on campus and in the families of our students. Along the way we’ve grown, made mistakes, and learned valuable lessons in reaching Latinos.

What is Working

Evangelism. As I have shared elsewhere in the Destino Statistic Challenge we’ve seen response to the gospel among Latinos be off the charts. Across the Cru U.S. campus ministry Hispanic students are almost 4 times more likely to make a decision for Christ than a majority culture student when presented with the opportunity. Seeing that the field is ripe for the harvest gives us a responsibility to make sure evangelism is at the center of our movement.

While we are always working to contextualize our ministry even more, our approach to evangelism has been simple. We train our students to use the Knowing God Personally booklet. We encourage them to “share early and share often”. They do a great job of sharing with new freshmen as well as their friends. Due to the familia aspect of Latino culture, many of our students have seen family members become believers in Jesus.

What is Not Working

Tale of Two Doors. Because we focus so much on evangelism the “front door” to our movement is wide open. People are constantly joining in. The problem we face is that our “back door” is open just as wide, if not wider. It has been very difficult for us to keep students all the way to graduation. Some stop walking with the Lord, some fail out of school, and others have to take out one or two jobs to pay their parents’ rent. As a result we are making our discipleship much more holistic than focusing only on their spiritual lives because if we don’t we realize we’ll never be able to maintain a movement.

White Ministry with a Brown Face. When we started working with Destino we knew we would need to contextualize the ministry. For the most part, though, we just copied ministry philosophy and strategy directly from Anglo college ministries we had been a part of in the past. Our context has required that as we’ve grown and made mistakes we’ve had to make a shift away from that.

30% of Latino students in Texas come from socioeconomic backgrounds that are below the poverty line. As a result we focus much more on lowering the costs of our venues (like a $20 fall retreat). Theologically our students are usually either Catholic or Pentecostal, with few in between. We’ve had to learn to teach students how to be a movement with diverse theological beliefs and not just promote a narrow subset of Evangelical Christianity. How we believe has become as important as what we believe.

What Are You Waiting For?

Latinos are some of the most warm, friendly people you will ever meet. They’ve forgiven me over and over for cultural mistakes I’ve committed as I step towards them with a loving posture. I’d love to ask you to consider what might God be calling you to do in light of how He is working among Latinos.

Eric serves on staff with Cru. Click here to follow him on Twitter.