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            This document is largely a record of notes for a class on evangelism given in around the year 2000 at The Church in Silver Lake.  The ideas are evolving (as of 2007-08). 

            First, however, some songs--my compositions, except for "Light of Life," which was composed by Bettina Gray and arranged by Jeffrey Wattles.

     1.  Praise to the Universal Father

     2.  Come in brothers and sisters

     3.  The Kingdom of God is at Hand

     4.  My Lord, how shall I call thee?

     5.  People who dwelt in darkness have seen a great light

     6.  Walking down the road on a rainy day

     7.  Jesus said, "Be you perfect as your Father in heaven"

     8.  The continent of God

     9.  It is a good thing to give thanks to the Lord

    10. Jesus like the wind

    11. Light of life--music and lyrics by Bettina Gray

    12. guitar solo





Becoming a Beacon

1. Rejoicing in the Family of God

2. Untapped Resources in Jesus' Gospel

3. Deepening Our Awareness of the Spiritual Needs of Our Generation

4. Deepening Our Life of Prayer

5. Methods of Evangelism Then and Now

6. Learning to Serve in Thought, Word, and Deed


1. Rejoicing in the Family of God

1. As followers of Jesus, enjoying the Master's presence, we embark on a time to share and grow and pray together, a time for teaching, Bible study, discussion, reflection and writing, for quiet and for incubating decisions. We look for spiritual unity, not intellectual uniformity (John 17).

2. We share truth by the way we live, in thought, word, and deed.

3. Truth radiates in us the more we steep in it to the point where we rejoice in it. (Psalms 100 and 133).

4. We can facilitate the growth of this rejoicing.

  • Begin with what has been meaningful to you, the occasions over which you have rejoiced.

  • Expand the base of your rejoicing to embrace essential themes in Jesus' teaching.  Liberal and conservative scholars agree that Jesus' gospel was a message about the kingdom of God. Realizing that Jesus used the term kingdom with different meanings, we can recognize that the kingdom of God is the family of God. We are to rejoice by faith as the sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters with one another . . . and with everyone we meet!

  • Try seeing your occasion for rejoicing as illustrating the wonderful relationship: God is your Father, and you are his beloved son or daughter.

  • Do not suppress normal human sorrow.  Nature and nurture condition our happiness--as well as our willingness to be led and directed by the indwelling spirit of God. We can facilitate but not force rejoicing. Jesus went through deep sorrow and emerged with radiant happiness.

5. What, religiously and spiritually speaking, has brought you the greatest blessings? Think quietly for a couple minutes. Then share with a partner. Eventually you will be invited to share with the group. You should not feel pressured to disclose sensitive things. Self-revelation is voluntary.

6. How does Jesus speak of rejoicing? How can we interpret his teachings?

  • Beatitudes (Matthew 5.3-12).  Note especially the first: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs IS the kingdom of heaven."  I emphasize the present tense.  This is not a promise for the future but a revelation of the now.

  • "We played the flute for you, and you did not dance" (Matthew 11.17a)

  • Parable of the treasure hidden in a field (Matthew 13.44)

  • Parable of the pearl of great value (Matthew 13.45)

  • Parable of the lost sheep (Matthew 18.12-14)

  • Parable of the wedding banquet (Matthew 22.1-13)

7. What is rejoicing? Think of Jesus' parable of the sower. Some seed fell on the road and didn't have a chance to grow. Some was picked up by birds. Some sprouted quickly but withered when the weather got real hot. But some brought forth a wonderfully abundant harvest. Jesus taught a marvelous message with that parable, but for the moment, I'd like to apply it to this question. When the word of truth comes to us, what do we do with it? If we recognize it as truth, the intellect has said, "Yes." Nevertheless, in order for the truth to root deeply within us, we need to receive it in our heart.

When we feel the beauty of truth, when we experience truth as the gift of love, then we are rejoicing.  It takes time in prayer, meditation, and worship for this fruit of the spirit to emerge.

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 2. Gospels

If you consider the following questions before moving forward you will be able to better draw on your own life insights, contribute to the conversation, develop a view independent of the instructor, and appreciate meanings and values in the ideas presented.

1. What's at stake in saying "Yes" or "No" with your life to spiritual truth?

2. What does a gospel do?

3. How did the gospel(s) of Peter (Acts 2.14-41) and Paul develop?

4. How did Jesus' gospel differ from the gospel of his followers? Why?

5. What was Jesus' gospel?

6. Why is it hard to pin down Jesus' gospel?


1. What is at stake in your response to spiritual truth is your very life, its spiritual quality on earth and its destiny beyond.

2. A gospel ministers eternal truth to the needs of a generation (or particular group or individual) so as to give the other an opportunity to respond in saving faith.

3. The Christ-centered gospel of Peter and Paul grew up as a result of their dramatic experiences of (1) receiving the outpoured Spirit of Truth on Pentecost and (2) having the encounter with Jesus on the Damascus road, experiences that led to successful proclaiming.

4. Jesus' gospel centered not on himself (Mark 8.30) but on the kingdom of God (Acts 1.3).

Why did Jesus present his message in terms of the kingdom of God? It was the language of the people of his time and the language of his ordained forerunner, John the Baptist.

What did the language of the kingdom express?

Jesus uses the term "son of God" (cf. "daughter of God") with multiple meanings, including at least the following:

Note that Jesus used his key terms without attaching a philosophical or theological explanation of the different meanings he was associating with them. The life of his teaching expressed a revelatory movement between these meanings.

Here is a text for a sermon, "The kingdom of God is at Hand!"

5. What did Jesus mean by portraying God as our father? He preserved the achievement of Jewish religion in realizing the oneness of God, and he added a revelation of the personality of God. He preserved the concept of God as Creator of the universe and Lord of history (appearances to the contrary notwithstanding). But instead of an emphasis on the sovereignty of God (God as king of his people) he emphasized the closeness of God's relationship with the individual--friendship with God. The kingdom of God is the dominion of God's spirit, the kingdom within, the supreme desire to do the will of God.

The fatherhood of God is a metaphor and more than a metaphor. The good news is that you don't have to use any particular name for God. Choose the name that expresses the relation with God you have discovered in your personal experience! And realize that no matter what name is used, the equality of women with men is secure. God equally and infinitely loves each of his creature children. Jesus' revelation of the fatherhood of God does not oppose inquiry into the motherhood of God. The contrast in his day was with the concept of God as king. The name we use matters little. The key is the quality of our loving and growing relationship.

See a detailed study on the Gospel According to Mark.

Pray for illumination about these themes. Ask the Spirit of Truth--who will guide us into all truth--for added revelation. Jesus said, "No one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him" (Luke 10.22). Imagine what a wonderful answer to your prayer awaits you! Ask for enhanced revelation of our Father.

Realize that the wonderful experience that you have with God is the kind of relationship that everyone else may enjoy as well. Learn to rejoice in their gifts and potentials for that wonderful relationship.

Our message to the world is like the call of a swimmer to his friends: Come on in--the water's fine!  As you to relate to God as your Father and find love in your personal friendship with God, you sense that the Creator loves all his children, making us all brothers and sisters.  The fatherhood of God implies the brotherhood of man, the universal family of God.  But no matter how vast the universes, how many people are embraced within the family, God is close to each individual.  "The kingdom of heaven is within."  You can personally experience a transforming relationship, just by sharing your inner life with God.  The presence of the spirit of God within the human mind is there for everyone with the faith to realize it. These truths are deep enough for a lifetime of probing by intelligent worship and loving service.  You will increasingly rejoice in the universal family of God.

    Culminate this phase of your training by writing down your own expression of the core truths of Jesus' teaching.  Do not be overwhelmed by the challenges involved in trying to do this in an ideal way.  You don't need to be a scholar, theologian, or minister.  You will continue to grow in your understanding.  For now, however, simply express what you take to be Jesus' essential core message, his gospel.

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3.  Adapting the Gospel to 

Present Spiritual Difficulties

Wise gospel proclaiming (or proclaiming by the way we live, proclaiming in thought, word, and deed) ministers eternal spiritual truth to the spiritual difficulties of the current generation. As those difficulties change, so the presentation of the gospel adjusts. Consider the group of people with whom you come into contact. Include people you have special concern for, those you see regularly, and strangers you come across here and there. To be sure, individual spiritual difficulties may differ from one person to the next. Nevertheless, we are also, in some measure, the children of our age, and the culture we share presents us with some common spiritual difficulties. At least I think it is worth exploring this thought.

What spiritual difficulties did the people of Jesus' day face? They knew God as the one Creator of the universe and the Lord of history, who cared for them as a people, but they needed an enhanced realization of God's personal relationship with the individual. They saw themselves as special, and they needed an expanded awareness of their kinship with all people.

What is a spiritual difficulty?

Note these difficulties may be more conscious or less conscious. Take time to write out your own best answers to these questions.

1. What spiritual difficulties is the present generation dealing with?


2. What social, economic, and political difficulties do we face? What aspects of spiritual difficulties are implicit in those?


3. Think of the obvious biological, social, economic, and political troubles of our world. What spiritual difficulties are involved in them?


4. In the light of your review, how would you express Jesus' gospel, as you have begun to grasp it thus far?


5. Think of one or more persons for whom you especially pray to share your joy in divine truth. What spiritual difficulties are they facing?


6. Take a sheet of paper and write the concepts of Jesus' gospel as you understand it on one side.  Then write the spiritual needs you see on the other side.  Take time to imagine truth reaching out to needs.  Think about a favorite example of how Jesus responded to someone's needs.  Think about how truth may best be expressed today in order to meet those needs.  What way of putting today's gospel might best reach the one(s) for whom you are especially praying?


7. How can you live that gospel with the one(s) you have in mind?

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4.  Deepening our Life of Prayer

There are so many wonderful teachings about prayer! Jesus taught us to pray in the plural--"Our Father . . . ." The word our is a key part of our relating to God.

What might it mean to praying in the plural? Each person will come up with his or her own discoveries in answer to the question. At the very least, it means that we do not indulge in selfish praying, and we do not spend too much time praying for our own needs to the neglect of others. It might also mean that when we pray for a need of our own, we also pray for those with a similar need.

The following thoughts about prayer are reflections on some teachings I have come across, and they focus on seeking divine wisdom. I propose them as an exercise in two ways. First, use them in a personal way, seeking wisdom for yourself as you are growing in your capacity to share the joy of the family of God with others--or with a special other person in your life. Second, try adapting these principles, praying that the other person may also fulfill these conditions of progressing life.

Since prayer addresses God, it takes faith, from beginning to end, in every aspect of the prayer process. Sometimes I hear someone say, "God is so great, and I'm so little, I don't see how God could be concerned with my problems." These people need most to experience the indwelling presence of God in prayer. A little confession, a little honest expression of our desire for God's love, can open things up. The experience of answered prayer shows us that God does care about details in our lives that we may think are not especially important. It's a little scary, because it shows us that the way we live, even in little ways, in ways we hardly realize, does matter to God's purposes. God is prepared to wash your feet, so to speak, to cleanse in ways that no one else will stoop to do, in ways so intimate that no one else can.

It also takes faith to believe in yourself. You can seek and find and choose and do the will of God. God trusts a lot to us, and, as imperfect as we are, if we supremely desire to do his will, even though we might not understand it perfectly, we'll be moving in the right direction, and we'll remain teachable. If we run into a wall, we'll be better able to figure out how to avoid that wall in the future or how to use a tactical retreat to get reinforcements and pick up a battering ram.

The fact that we are praying to God has another important implication. Orienting yourself to God imparts a new framework for prayer. How natural it is, when beset by some pressing problem, to react in some degree of panic. Our natural framework is the immediate situation that cries out for help. It would be foolish to deny that an anguished cry of the heart may be an effective prayer; and yet, in a prayer process that has the chance to be thorough, a different framework is possible: "Here I am. I have made my choice: I am on my way to You; I have begun the quest for perfection. This situation I'm in is showing up a specific growth need that I have. Please give me the wisdom I need to solve the problem." It is a very different experience to pray in the transformed framework!

To pray to God is to address the Source of reality, and prayer cannot be sincere unless we face reality's challenges. Prayer gives provides a refreshing break from immediate involvement in our tasks, but it does not give an escape from life's intense testing or its monotony, its pain or its seductive ease, its inexorable logic or its baffling contradictions, its justice or its unfairness and cruelty. To mobilize your stamina, first consider what you may have to go through. The will of God may point in the direction of one alternative or another. Look down the roads and try to get a sense of the difficulties they may bring. If you are not ready to face the difficulties, you are not ready to ask openly for a revelation of the divine will. Take the time to gather your forces. Try to come to a sense of the beauty of the evolutionary struggle. Come to that place where you can say, "I'm ready for whatever may come."

Prayer is not a way of getting God to do your homework for you. At the very least, we can think up possible responses to our situation. Sometimes it is the divine way to enhance our attention to the desired alternative, to impart an extra luminosity to a particular thought that we are considering. But spiritual encouragement cannot alight upon a project that has not yet come to mind, and doing our homework in a careful and creative review of the situation can bring a rich array of alternatives to mind. Doing the homework of prayer involves the scientific and philosophic labor of gathering and facing facts and thinking about them as well as possible after conversation and study. Sometimes the homework is not merely intellectual. Sometimes you can fix a situation yourself with a little application of intelligence. You don't tow your car in to a mechanic if all you need is a jump start. In fact, doing your utmost to handle a situation is ideal. It can be exhausting, but exhausting yourself in a good cause is a badge of honor. It would be convenient if a more moderate effort would suffice, and a modest effort often does enable good ideas to surface. But the more you dredge out the channels of receptivity the more input you can be given.

Having done one's utmost to make adjustments, to figure things out, one is ready to go onto the mountain, so to speak, to open up to the divine response. This is not to say that one has not sought guidance in pursuing the earlier phases of the prayer process. It is just that the dramatic posing of the question in the most direct way waits until the questioner is truly ready to receive and respond to the divine.

This is the time for surrender. Prayer listens as well as speaks. In order to listen well, one must let go of all that one has been able to achieve in comprehending the problem. Prayer opens the soul to be touched in ways that are not pre-determined. Of course the mind has its desires about how things should work out. Of course the soul has its cravings for supreme values that seem to be at stake. It may take time to realize what these attachments are. Then release them.

Spiritual surrender is not the abject laying down of one's will by an individual longing for rapture. The will of the faith child is ennobled, not abased, in prayer. The reason for surrender is that even one's highest previously conceived ideas and ideals may not be what infinite wisdom aims to satisfy at present.

Then what happens? In the silence of listening there occurs an enhanced revelation of truth and beauty and goodness. A shift occurs in the configuration of the meaning-value landscape. I recall the story of the nineteenth-century visionary who charted on foot the path for the first railroad to be built through the Rocky Mountains. He did about as well as we could do today with the benefit of aerial photography. I imagine him trying to plot his course when a storm would come up. Not being able to see which path to choose through the mountains, he simply had to be patient until the weather would clear up. Though he wanted to see many miles ahead, he could only see the next pass in the mountain range.

I have been describing ideals: the divine revelation is evident and the decision to be taken is clear. But when the ideal does not occur, if listening discerns nothing, should one persist in receptive openness or return to earlier phases of the process or act on the best we know thus far? It can be hard to sort out these alternatives. Sometimes a period of mental quiet is granted just for the purpose of communion between God and the soul. Sometimes a question is posed in a given situation that is not well oriented to what God is wanting to give the person; front-burner growth needs are not being addressed, and the prayer is inappropriate. Sometimes there is the divine wisdom of a delayed response. As we grow, our prayers become better attuned to the will of God: we know more what sort of blessings he is in the business of providing, and we increasingly perceive the answer to our prayers.

The quest to know the will of God is often frustrated because the focus is too exclusively on what is to be done, whereas the will of God has two other dimensions that are at least as important. First, the will of God is first and foremost that we supremely desire the will of God. If our desire is not supreme, then discovering what to do will be harder. Second, how we do something may be more important than what we do.

The question also arises of how to interpret the input into the mind. After going through all the indicated preparation, there is a tendency to regard any alteration of the meaning-value landscape as coming from God. And there are experiences which are such compelling presentations that we cannot honestly doubt that they furnish grounds for immediate decision and action. Nevertheless the subconscious is also a source of fresh energies and creative syntheses. When we contemplate the situation as we comprehend it, with its landscape of meanings and values, it has a certain configuration or Gestalt. Certain features are highlighted and certain features are in the background or not consciously present at all. In the response to prayer, there is a shift in this configuration. My point is that it is possible for such a shift to come from subconscious factors as well as from the superconscious divine spirit. What is to be done about this predicament? The question arises not only in prayer but also with regard to a variety of phenomena including dreams and various mystical experiences. To begin with, we can be glad that prayer is so effective at tapping the deep psychic sources of energy as it reaches toward the spirit for spiritual strength and divine wisdom. Thus prayer can assist in unifying the human life, coordinating our energies.

It is here that the individual must assume the responsibility for recognizing the caliber of the meanings and values on which decision and action is to be based. Set aside speculations about the source. Set aside worries about the possible admixture of subconscious and superconscious factors. Set aside worries about the inability to sort things out analytically. Discernment grows slowly. God does not expect anything more than our responsible best, and God does not will that we make a decision for an option that we are incapable of discerning at a given stage in our growth. We are beginners. To know and do the will of God is as lofty a goal as may be conceived, and working even with the best prayer process cannot short-circuit the course of experience needed for discernment to grow.

Prayer culminates in decision and action and commitment to actually accomplish the will of God. Without a follow-through a tennis stroke is impotent. And how can God give guidance to one who is not prepared to respond by making a decision? Prayer without decision readiness is like asking God to submit a recommendation for the individual to study and dispose of. Now there is no more time for delay. Decision does not merely resolve to do something; it is already the beginning of the action. And the course of action may require considerable vigor to see through to the end, the full accomplishing of the divine will. Marshalling one's determination to get the job done is the final stage of the prayer process.

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5. Evangelism Then and Now

It is interesting to learn about various methods of evangelism. I will first share my notes on Michael Green, Evangelism in the Early Church (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1970). Next, I will look briefly at Edward R. Dayton and David A. Fraser, Planning Strategies for World Evangelization (Eerdmans, 1980).

Michael Green, Evangelism in the Early Church

Chapter 1. Pathways for Evangelism. (The notes on the first two chapters summarize a bit, mostly draw lessons.) Take advantage of the culture’s amenities (like the Roman roads). Build on the culture’s philosophic progress. Satisfy is interesting the deep needs to which the competing religions appeal. Honor the roots in the religious tradition, but abandon its stumbling blocks.

Chapter 2. Obstacles to Evangelism. Obstacles to your message will differ depending on the perspectives of those you interact with. A moment is easy to criticize if it is new, not supported by socially prominent individuals, gets a bad reputation, and holds to high standards.

Chapter 3. The Evangel. There was great variety in the early promulgation of the gospel, but the versions centered on Jesus Christ. [The fact that Jesus’ original message of the kingdom was not explicitly centered in himself is smoothed over.]

Chapter 4. Evangelizing the Jews. The strategy: appeal to scripture showing Jesus as the fulfillment of the wise promises of the prophets.

Chapter 5. Evangelizing the Gentiles. The approach was flexible. The original message of the kingdom did not mean much to non-Jews, who responded better to talk of salvation, adoption. "There is a fundamental difference between the defender of orthodoxy, who is anxious to maximize the gap between authentic Christianity and all deviations from it, and the apologist, who is concerned to minimize the gap between himself and his potential converts . . . yet [gaining] them for the gospel" (117). Christianity satisfied moral, sacramental, social, and intellectual needs (119). "They made the grace of God credible by a society of love and mutual care which astonished the pagans and was recognized as somthing entirely new" (120). Deliverance from demons—very real to ancient man—from Fate, and from magic was important (123-25). There was unity of approach: "an attack on idolatry, a proclamation of the one true God, and the moral implications that flow from this" (125). There was a hard balance to strike between avoiding the idolatry of the culture without withdrawing from it (130-31). There were shortcomings. In some second-century expressions, "Faith becomes mere belief, grace a commodity, justification a mere formula" (133). A moralism developed that portrays the new law of love as "a revised edition of the old law"—facilitated by Matthew, who organizes his gospel "into five great blocks to indicate that it is the New Torah, and then proceeds to use it, not as guidelines for the life of love but as legal enactments which must have exceptions in order to cover hard cases" (140). There was a "tendency to regard eschatology as primarily a matter of rewards and punishments" that men earn (140-41). "The greatest enemy of Jewish Christianity was undue conservativism . . . ; whereas the greatest danger to Gentile Christianity lay in undue adaptation to the thought forms of the day . . . . If conservatism stifles authentic Christianity, liberalism dissipates it" (141). The type of apology we find in Luke-Acts "is striving all the time to win converts" (136). "If Christ is for all men, then evangelists must run the risk of being misunderstood, of misunderstanding elements in the gospel themselves, of losing out on the transposition of parts of the message" (142). First century evangelists, however, succeeded through their "courage, singleness of aim, Christcenteredness and adaptability" (143). "It is through faith alone that God can be known, a faith that brings joy, love, and the desire to imitate Christ" (135).

Chapter 6. Conversion. "Hellenistic man did not regard belief as necessary for the cult . . . [nor] ethics as a part of religion" (144). "Christians were expected to belong, body and soul, to Jesus, who was called their master, despotes" (146). Unlike Christianity, philosophy, magic, or the Mysteries would "supplant, not supplement a man’s ancestral religion" (146). Jews were asked to give up the specialness of birth and circumcision (147). The spiritual gospel was inseparable from the social gospel (148; cf. 277 on the unity of truth). "The early preachers did not enter into dialogue with the world, except to understand it and to present their life-changing message in terms comprehensible to their contemporaries" (148). They "asked men to decide for or against the God who had decided for them. They expected results" (151). They did not use a single emotional method appealing to only one type of person. "It is interesting to note the nuance of words like diamarturesthai "to testify strenuously", kataggellein "to proclaim forcefully", dialegesthai "to argue", diakatelenhein "to confute powerfully" when applied to the apostolic evangelistifc preaching. Sometimes we read of joyful proclamation of good news (euaggelizein), at other times of patient comparison of scriptures as enquirer and evangelist examined the Old Testament (sunchunein). Primitive evangelism was by no means mere proclamation and exhortation; it included able intellectual argument, skilful study of the scriptures, careful, closely reasoned teaching and patient argument" (160). People were not asked to make a blind leap without understanding to what they were committing. Paul’s "mind was informed and illuminated . . .; his conscience was pricked . . . ; his emotions were stirred . . . ; his will was bent in trusting surrender . . . ; and in consequence his life was transformed . . . " (161). "The search for truth and the search for deliverance seem to have been the two main paths by which those who have left literary records speak of their conversion. Thinking people . . . found in Christianity . . the true philosophy, an intelligible and credible account of God, the world and man" (162). "Deliverance from guilt and power of evil has always been a major impetus to conversion" (164).

Chapter 7. The Evangelists. Some were in the professional ministry, and there were men and women who were informal missionaries. "Christlikeness of life is a sine qua non of evangelism" (184). The example of their lives was a very important factor in their success: the quality of their fellowship "transcending barriers of race, sex, class and education" (180), their transformed characters, their joy, their extraordinary service to those to whom they desired to bring the gospel, their endurance and the way they died, and their spiritual power in the face of earthly powers.

Chapter 9. Evangelistic Methods. "Christianity is enshrined in the life; but it is proclaimed by the lips. If there is a failure in either respect the gospel cannot be communicated" (194). "For more than 150 years, they possessed no church buildings . . . " (194). They would preach in the synagogue. "Note Paul’s conciliatoriness and sympathy with the susceptibilities of the hearers: clarity in presentation, readiness to welcome what is good in their position, and sympathy with their difficulties, all mark this wise and tactful approach. Second, he shows courage in openly recognizing difficulties, proclaiming unpalatable truth, and in his uncompromising refusal to make difficult things seem easy. Third comes respect for his hearers, their intellectual powers and spiritual needs; and finally there is an unhesitating confidence in the truth and power of the gospel message" (196). They preached, according to the custom of the day, in the open air. "The simple directness of [the] wandering preacher, accepting no fees, and content to get temporary accommodation where he could, a man utterly convinced of the truth of his message, must have been usual . . . . The same artlessness, the same spontaneity, the same appeal to the witness of those who, like the preacher, had found the truth, were characteristic of this type of evangelism" (199). Some spoke prophetically, directly in the name of Christ. Origin laments, "I see very few arrows of God. There are few who so speak that they inflame the heart of the hearer, drag him away from his sin, and convert him to repentance. Few so speak that the heart of their hearers is deeply convicted and his eyes weep for contrition. There are few who unveil the light of the future hope, the wonder of heaven and the glory of God’s kingdom to such effect that by their earnest preaching they succeed in persuading men to despise the visible and seek the invisible, to spurn the temporal and seek the eternal" (203). Evangelism includes teaching and debating, as Paul did for three years in Ephesus. (The value of argument was to "break down barriers which obstructed men’s vision of the moral and existential choice which faced them . . ." (206). Personal testimony, marked by utter assurance, won many converts. Household evangelism was quite important. "The use of homes . . . had positive advantages: the comparatively small numbers involved made real interchange of views and informed discussion among the participants possible; there was no artificial isolation of a preacher from his hearers; there was no temptation for either the speaker or the heckler to ‘play to the gallery’ . . . . The sheer informality and relaxed atmosphere of the home, not to mention the hospitality . . . all helped . . . " (207). "Even the children were taught that if they believed ‘they would become happy and make their home happy as well’" (208). "Children can partake in the kingdom of heaven; their attitude of trusting obedience is in fact a model for adults" (219). The home had traditional significance in the Jewish past. Servants and resident aliens were included as well as the husband, wife and children. In the Roman family, the father was the undisputed head; the household also included slaves, freedmen, and trusted friends. It was most advantageous first to convert the head of the household. Indirect evangelism in the home included the display of decorations (e.g., a cross, fish, star, or plough) that would be meaningful to a Christian and which might arouse curiosity in guests. Household meetings were convened for a variety of religious purposes: "for prayer meetings, for an evening of Christian fellowship, for Holy Communion services, for a whole night of prayer, worship and instruction, for impromptu evangelistic gatherings, for planned meetings in order to hear the Christian gospel, for following up enquirers, for organized instruction" (218). Household evangelism has often been the most effective of all. In personal evangelism one person shares his faith with another. The attractive power of friendship is often effective in this way. Visiting a home could also be an occasion for sharing the gospel. Patient discussion of intellectual matters sometimes prepared the soil excellently for conversion. Evangelism occurred in a new literary form—a gospel. In the second century, polemic apologetics arose. "To launch a full-scale and at some times bitter asault on a man’s cherished beliefs is not the best way of inducing him to change them. . . . In the second century the warmth, Christ-centeredness, and deep and obvious concern for people . . . gives way to a rather cold, almost arrogant battering of the opposition" (233). The use of the scriptures was often most helpful, and one must also remark the importance of prayer. "It was then, with the Scriptures and prayer as their main weapons, backed up by their love, their burning zeal to share their faith with others, and the sheer quality of their living and dying that the early Christians set out to evangelize the world" (235).

Chapter 9. Evangelistic Motives. The main motive for evangelism was loving gratitude to the God who had saved them. "This gratitude, devotion, dedication to the Lord who had rescued them and given them a new life, this sense of being commissioned by him and empowered by his Spirit to do the work of heralds, messengers and ambassadors, was the main motive in evangelism in the early Church" (242-43). A second factor was "their responsibility before God to live lives consistent with their profession" (243). Third, they were motivated by a sense of concern. "Jesus came to seek and to save the lost" (248).

Chapter 10. Evangelistic Strategy. They (especially Paul) concentrated on urban centers, on leaders whose conversion could have an influence on many others, thinking of the geography in terms of provinces (not ethnic groups) where he would set up two or three light-bearing communities. To be sure, for the majority of believers, there was no conscious strategy. Moreover, their eschatological understanding developed and deepened beyond an expectation of the Master’s early return (though such illusory hope should by no means be hastily attributed to many of the early Christians). "The way was . . . wide open for the rapid dissemination of opinions whose advocates were sufficiently courageous, persistent, and self-sacrificial. Christians proved that they possessed these qualities, and they reaped corresponding rewards in terms of converts" ( 257).

Epilogue. The author here sums up and exhorts present day Christians: "It could happen again, if the Church were prepared to pay the price" (280).

I will not here summarize with the same care Dayton and Fraser, Planning Strategies for World Evangelization. Put most simply they counsel

1. Define the mission in terms of need.

2. Plan the mission in the spirit of prayer.

3. Attempt the mission in the power of the Spirit.

4. Evaluate the mission with the mind of the Spirit.

They expand this program into a ten-step process with the steps presented in a circle, such that the last step feeds back to renew the first step:

1. Define the mission

2. Describe the people

3. Describe the force for evangelism

4. Examine means and methods

5. Define an approach

6. Anticipate outcomes

7. Decide our role

8. Make plans

9. Act

10. Evaluate

One of the things Dayton and Fraser emphasize is the high leverage that comes from focusing your attention on particular "people groups." This does not have to mean a tribe in some remote region. This can mean the bridge group with whom you meet on Wednesday afternoon, or the folks you see at the country club. These are people you know and can get to know well. Your natural involvement with such a group gives you excellent opportunities for evangelism.

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6. Learning to Serve in Thought, Word, and Deed

As a group exercise, first take a minute or two of silent reflection to think of a time when service went well, very well.

Share your recollection with a partner.

Share then, in the larger group.

What lessons about service have you learned from your experience?

Are there any lessons you hear from others that may help you with the particular person or group you have in mind?

Review the lessons of the previous sessions.

Pray for one another.

Evangelism is a matter of loving thought, gracious word, and humble deed. Thank you for your participation. May your service be blessed indeed!

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