There is a must read post by my friend Carl Medearis on CNN about why we should stop evangelizing and start talking about Jesus. I encourage you to read it and give me your feedback. It is provocative, engaging and of critical importance. Carl makes some very important distinctions we should give serious thought to...
Many evangelicals have turned their faith into a religion that they want others to join, which Carl believes - and I agree - is not why Jesus came to earth nor what he taught while he was on the earth.
If more people learn to initiate spiritual conversations about Jesus that lead to mentoring people to faith in Jesus and growing in their faith with others in new faith communities, something exciting would happen on this planet. That is what we are about in All Nations.
Carl believes Jesus transcends all religions and calls people to himself... and when they respond to him, that Jesus allows that person to grow in their relationship with him while they are still in their mother culture and religion. By staying in their religious and cultural context people are able to lead many more people to faith in Jesus; in effect they become bridges to Jesus.
The opposite approach to staying in your context when you come to faith in Christ is referred to as "extraction" - i.e., it is best to extract people from their culture and religion. The belief behind this practice is that people will fail spiritually if they stay where they are, they are too weak; and they will compromise theologically, they are too ignorant.
Sally and I have left people in their context when they journey to faith in Christ since we started working in the drug dens of Afghanistan and the streets of Amsterdam. We saw prostitutes and drug addicts stay where they were, grow to be powerful men and women of faith, and lead many others out of their addictions and brokenness. They didn't continue in their sin, but they stay in relationship with those they knew and loved, their family and friends. It was hard for people, true enough, but people developed a more mature faith grounded in the culture where they came to faith. It is sad to see people lose contact with family and friends and adopt a new "Christian" culture that cuts them off from the very people God wants them to influence.
We wouldn't say to a banker or politician to leave their culture and vocation if they came to faith. Why? Because we believe God is big enough in this person to help them overcome temptations of greed or power and live faithfully as a follower of Jesus where they are. Yet, we immediately assume a Muslim or street person must leave their life situation.
Church planting movements are exploding on our planet today, and one of the reasons is church planters and disciple makers have learned the power of a changed person remaining where they are to influence others for Jesus.
In the end, it comes down to a matter of trust. Do we trust the Holy Spirit in people? Do we trust God to work in their life context? The reality is, whether we trust God or not, God is working in the lives of millions and millions of people right where they are - all over the world.
Perhaps it is time for some of us to catch up with how God is reaching and changing people to follow His son Jesus, without them joining a religion called Christianity. Regardless, please follow this link to go straight to the CNN article by Carl Medearis if you would like to read his article and give this some more thought.