Thursday, July 9, 2009

Missing the Point on Missions Part I

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.

Arguing From Results, Not Exegesis

First, I’ve noticed the exceeding popularity of books on missions that seem to argue their method based primarily on their results rather than on biblical exegesis. With some hesitation, I’ll mention a couple of examples of this pragmatic approach to missions, starting with a book written by a person with whom I’m somewhat acquainted and who evidences a great love for Jesus and the lost: David Garrison, Church Planting Movements (WIGTake Resources, 2003) [see the review in this eJournal]. Garrison uses the image of “reverse engineering” to describe with candor how he developed his CPM methods, not from Scripture, but by analyzing a movement that was producing the results he wanted. Or, for an example of this trend in a popular missionary journal see the April 2009 edition of the Evangelical Missionary Quarterly: John Tanner, “A Story of Phenomenal Success: indigenous mission training centers and Myanmar” EMQ 45(2), 152-157. Both works are written by self-professed evangelicals, but both base their arguments mainly on results, rather than on the biblical faithfulness of their approach.

Sadly, I could list dozens, maybe hundreds, of similar books and articles, especially on the topics of contextualizing the gospel, evangelizing Muslims, and planting house churches. The Bible isn’t rejected by these books, it’s merely regarded as if it doesn’t have much to say about the “how” of global evangelism.

HT: Bart Barber

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