Monday, July 13, 2009

Missing the Point of Missions Part III

In a recent comment stream, I had a gentleman who apparently does "church marketing" trying to convince me that church marketing and trying to be appealing can't be all bad if it gets people in church. I came across an article written by one of the men from 9Marks, Andy Johnson, titled "Pragmatism, Pragmatism Everywhere!" While his subject is primarily missions, I think it can also apply to evangelism very easily. I'm going to repost his three main points here and I commend the entire article to you.

Assuming the Bible Is Silent About “How”

Finally, it seems to me that many assume the Bible is silent on practice—the “how” of evangelism and church planting. Books and leaders don’t say this up front. But the fact that they do not carefully interact with Scripture to find, understand, and test missionary methods suggest as much. For example, if you never consult your Bible when changing the oil in your car it suggests that you don’t believe Scripture addresses the topic. And you’re right. Likewise, based on what’s been written and spoken about missions, or not, I take it that many missiologists and missionaries assume that Scripture is largely silent on that topic of the “how.”

Prior generations have made similar mistakes. We’re not the first people to affirm the authority and sufficiency of the Bible yet deny them in our methods. In his classic work of 1954, An Introduction to the Science of Missions the Dutch theologian and veteran missionary to Indonesia, J.H. Bavinck wrote,

The conclusion might easily be reached that the content of preaching is given in Scripture but that the manner of preaching, and the question of missionary approach, is a matter of personal tact and of applying oneself to the given circumstances.

He continues,

According to such a solution, the Bible provides the content, the “what” of preaching, but the manner, the “how” of preaching must be discovered otherwise.

But Bavink calls such a solution “too simple” and suggests that

theoretical problems concerning principles, which can be answered by Scripture alone, lurk behind the countless practical problems which beset the church.[5]

When we deal with issues that touch on the heart of the biblical message (evangelism and the church) and yet act as though Scripture has little to say that’s practical, haven’t we fallen into the same error?

HT: Bart Barber

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