Tuesday, April 3, 2018

A Pastoral Concern -- The Opportunity for Evangelism

We are currently enjoying a series on Christian Apologetics on the 2nd Sunday of each month (schedule below), in which we are considering how archaeology, history, and geography aid in support of the history recorded in the Gospels about Jesus Christ and the Church.  Such knowledge is helpful for Christians to recognize that our faith rests in historic fact, not myth or fantasy or propoganda.  

However, more and more the average person in America is becoming more and more ignorant of the most basic of Christian teachings.  Consider this article from the blog of Gene E. Veith in which he refers to an article referencing Easter.  In that article, the writer originally described Easter as “the day celebrating the idea that Jesus did not die and go to hell or purgatory or anywhere at all, but rather arose into heaven.”  NPR later ran a correction, but the alarming part about the poor--no, false--description of our Easter celebration is that the author claims to be Roman Catholic!  A Christian does not know what Easter is about?!  Apparently, yes.

The reality is that many people in America will claim to be Christian.  Take a look at church attendance and you will know that many who claim to be Chrisians don't go to church.  Their Christian faith is limited only to their claim or to which box they might check on a survey.  Many do not know what the Bible says or what the Christian faith is, even though they claim to be Christians.  And while today's adults may have some vague recollection since their parents took them to church a few times until they were 8 years old, many of today's children are completely in the dark, having never gone to church.

I suppose the situation is lamentable.  If only more people came to church, it would be better.  On the other hand, the opportunity for evangelism is staggering.  Your neighbor does not know what the Christian faith is.  Their guess may be as poor as the report's above.

What that means for Christians is that your efforts for evangelism are much easier than you might have thought.  You don't need some years' long study about methods.  You only need what you learned in Sunday School, or the most basic recollection of last Sunday's sermon (whatever the Sunday).  This will likely be news to the average person you meet.  It is certainly the good news we crave to hear.  I suspect that many will find that news equally good.  At the very least, many will find it new.

Evangelism just got much easier.  You don't need to convince anyone of anything.  You simply need to confess what you know.  At the very least, you will remove people's ignorance.  While we pray for their conversion, that remains the work of the Holy Spirit.


SUNDAY NIGHT BIBLE SERIES

JESUS – Legend or Lord?


Jesus of Nazareth is the most written about person in the world.  He is also one of the most debated figures in the world.  In this eight-part series, Dr. Maier explores a three-lane highway to the past through the  disciplines of Archaeology, History, and Geography.  Along the journey, we look back to the world that Jesus himself saw as he moved toward the cross.  The tentative schedule for this series is as follows.

History and Archaeology: God's “Back-up Systems”
SESSION 1  –  Our Sources of Information                     February 11  --  completed
SESSION 2  –  Archaeology and History                          March 18  --  completed
SESSION 3  –  The Works of Josephus                           April 8

New Perspectives on the Life of Jesus
SESSION 4  –  The Infancy Narratives May 6
SESSION 5  –  Jesus' Public Ministry June 10

The Crucifixion and Resurrection Revisited 
SESSION 6  –  The Week That Changed the World July 8
SESSION 7  –  The Resurrection Revisited   August 12

The Explosion of Christianity
SESSION 8  –  The Explosion of Christianity  September 9