the Radical Reformission–Part 5: Chapter 3

The title of this chapter is indicative of the style of evangelism that characterizes how most Christians share the gospel–“Shotgun Weddings to Jesus”.

How does that title strike you? Do you feel that evangelism for you has resembled a “shotgun wedding to Jesus”?

This chapter in Mark Driscoll’s book is worth the price of the book, combined with chapter one, you are getting the book’s weight in gold. The purpose of this chapter is that we would emulate how his church has applied these principes:

“After some Bible teaching on the principles I write about in this book, people in our church began seeing themselves as missionaries in the culture, building friendships for the purpose of showing and sharing the love of Jesus with lost people” (pg 66).

He is combatting common evangelistic practices that lead to easy-believism. So people mentally assent to something then do not fully understand or truly believe. (I think there is still value, though, in sharing the gospel before they have to wait and see others lives in order to make a decision. However, it is probably more healthy and more normative for people’s conversion to be a process as he will describe it.)

Routine Presentation Evangelism (Believe in Jesus, then belong to the church.)

Reformission Participation Evangelism (Belong to the church, then believe in Jesus.)

Gospel information is presented.

A genuine, spiritual friendship between a Christian and a non-Christian is built.

Hearers are called to make a decision about Jesus.

The non-Christian sees authentic faith and ministry lived openly and participates in it.

If an affirmative decision is made, the person is welcomed into the church.

The gospel is naturally present in word and deed within the friendship.

Then friendship is extended to the person.

The non-Christian’s conversion to Jesus follows his or her conversion to Christian friendships and the church.

The convert is trained for service in ministry by being separated from the culture.

The church celebrated the conversion of their friend.

The above table is from page 68 and describes the differences between Routine Presentation Evangelism and Reformission Participation Evangelism.

Which do you think is more effective? Is one better than the other at all times, in every situation? Could there be a third option 😉 ?

I think, though, that Mark has hit on an important point. I definitely would not consider an unbeliever as part of the church (I’m not certain it would be biblical to do so), but I recognize his point that believers should retain friendships and associations with the unbelieving neighbors and friends so that relationships for the gospel are maintained. This also helps us avoid the temptation to see conversion as only a mental assent to some propositions. Conversion is a transformation of a life (pg 74), which takes time, but will not fail because of the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. Also, conversion is becoming part of a community. It is not a personalized decision.

When you read in Acts of whole families coming to Christ, what do you picture? Or, when you hear stories of whole tribes in some far off land coming to Christ, what do you think? Are you tempted to discount those conversions, do you think they are weird? Could our emphasis on a personal decision be the weird one?

In this chapter, Mark has two excellent sections, one on overcoming our prejudices through humble confession of sin and another on the downward spiral within our culture to isolationism. They are worth the read. So please do so. But until then, here’s an excerpt:

[after listing a humorous, yet honest, list of people Mark is prejudiced against, he states] “I know this all sounds terrible, and it is. But I’d appreciate your being honest also and admitting that you too have your list of people whom you dislike. You probably think your list is better than mine because it has abortion doctors, rapists, pedophiles, corporate theives, used-car salesmen, politicians, and evil dictators on it. But the fact that we each have a list means that we are all pretty much the same and are just haggling over the details of who should wear the white hats and who should wear the black…The more we understand the concept of reformission, the more we realize that everyone is unlovely, Jesus loves everyone, and it is his love alone that makes us lovely” (pg 77).

Then he states,

“Repentance enables us to kneel humbly with fellow sinners at the foot of the cross so they can see Jesus without our pride rising up to encumber their view” (pg 78).

What prejudices do you have? Are you indifferent to the struggle of black people? Do you hate homosexuals? Are you angry at Democrats, or Republicans? Will you confess these sins and be available for God to use you in people’s lives who differ from you?

If you haven’t heard it by now, Mark Driscoll is advocating basic missions principles, ones that missionaries have developed over the years for reaching unreached people groups. In order to reach our neighbors, we have to realize that it may, and will, be a cross-cultural experience. The culture is changing and will continue to do so. Our Christian ghettos sometimes prevent us from noticing this change and we lose touch with society and become irrelevant. Some of this, don’t get me wrong, is from sinful influence in society, but some is also from our indifference. Let us not fail our neighbor because we are unwilling to walk the extra mile with them, or to give them our cloak.

Here’s how the chapter is concluded:

“Reformission requires that in our increasingly individualistic, lonely, and depressed culture, we avoid proclaiming solely a personal relationship with Jesus. The gospel requires us to proclaim and embody the full work of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jesus has accomplished four things which people long for. First, Jesus takes away the sins that separate us from God so that we can be connected to God, which fills our spiritual longings. Second, Jesus takes away the sins that separate us from each other so that we can be reconciled to each other as the church, which fills our social longings. Third, Jesus forgives the sins we have committed, thereby cleansing us of our filth, which fills our emotional longing for forgiveness. Fourth, Jesus cleanses us of the defilement that has come upon us through the sins of others, which fulfills our psychological longing for healing, cleansing, and new life” (pg 82).

Will you embody this gospel for your neighbor?

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