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Webber’s Book on the Younger Evangelicals (thoughts on revival and evangelism)

I just finished reading a book called The Younger Evangelicals by Robert Webber. I really appreciated this book. All my life I have butt heads with the traditional church and with a lot of people who were in leadership over me. I haven’t been able to understand them and they don’t understand me. I usually get labeled some buzz word like emergent, postmodern, new age or heretic. This book is the best explanation I have ever read of the difference of approach to the Christian faith. I think he takes a very balanced view on how things are changing and what they are changing from. He gives a lot of hope for those that are changing and probably even more hope to those that are having a hard time understanding the change. You know that conversation that you’re getting in with your dad? Or how about trying to explain to your best friend’s uncle how you are viewing your faith? Don’t understand your son? Think the youth of your church are going in the wrong direction and can’t speak on the same level? You need to read this book. I don’t think he is arguing that one way is right and the other way is wrong. I think he is saying they are different and now we have to deal with it.

It just so happened that I just finished the book and the second last chapter had a lot to say about revivals or rallies and how the younger evangelical reacts to them. I thought it was quite timely. Without commenting on anything, I’m just going to leave a few quotes which I thought stood out and also put up a few quotes of people that he pointed to.

I grew up in a Baptist church where we called an evangelist to come and preach a revival every year. I believed that raising my hand, walking down the isle, and confessing Jesus as Savior was the only way evangelism was done. I still affirm the place of mass evangelism and would never deny that many people have heard God’s call through the words of traveling evangelists and, responding to that call, have experienced a transformed life. In the eighties, a new form of evangelism was introduced called seeker evangelism. This evangelism proved to be highly effective. Thousands have come to Christ in this ministry. Their broken lives have been restored, and new hope for the future has been born. However, as effective as these forms of evangelism have been, both are being questioned by younger evangelicals. They are looking for a third way to evangelize in a postmodern world.
Robert Webber – The Younger Evangelicals

Silence every radio and television preacher, stop everything evangelical book or tract from being published, take down every evangelical website from the net and simply ask Christians to show one tangible expression of Jesus’ love to another person every day. We would be far better off.
Bernie Van De Walle, assistant professor of theology at Canadian Bible College

The most effective way I have been used in evangelism is when I am available for relationships with people God brings into my life.
Dale Dirksen

Behind every conversion story is a story of relationship.
Bruce McEvoy

The new, younger evangelical approach to evangelism is more like a walk, a process on a spectrum. It happens through community, through accountability, it happens when we intentionally order our lives in such a way to be like Jesus.
Dawn Haglund

It’s a kind of evangelism that is more like that of St. Francis who advocated preaching the gospel at all times, and if necessary use words.
David Di Sabatino

8 Comments

  • btw, the disabatino quote is the “silence the radio…” one.

    also, to push webber’s thought a little further (and this applies to rallies/revivals/and even well produced church gatherings) is that it appears that in north america, the church has become like the WWE: we’ve got to top ourselves each week and create an even bigger spectacle than we last did to keep the interest of our adherents. the plight of a consumeristic, entertainment model of church is that it becomes just another product on a shelf filled with competing spiritual products. and we have no one to blame but ourselves.

    what did jesus do when the crowds sought him out simply for his miracles, for the big show as it were? he shut them down. why? ‘cuz they were all about what was in it for them, and least concerned with who Jesus was.

    is this starting to sound familiar…

  • It’s amazing that we tend to flock towards big crowds and try to make them and when we have them we try to maintain them and when they start to twindle we start to think up ways to bring them back.

    I really liked David Fitch’s chapter on numbers in the Great Giveaway.

  • thanks for the recommendation… i’ll be picking it up today.

  • Sounds good. I will have to pick this one up.

  • So McLaren didn’t write it? is MeLaren even mentioned, quoted, referred? I dont know about this author.. Ill have to email McLaren for his permission.

  • Nice Ron!! haha. I assume there’s a trend going towards that kind of think as McLaren is becoming the posterboy for all things emergent.

    I’m really interested in that book too. I think I might see where I can get it online.

  • the book is great. mclaren may be the posterboy for Emergent and the emergent church, tony jones may be the brains behind Emergent, but webber is definitely a forerunner to them all. checkout his “ancient future” series if you can.

  • and another thing…then i’ll shut up…why is it that as xtians we’re never content with the present? always “longing” for something other than what we currently have…it’s as if God is holding out on us or something. and let’s not start the conversation here of comparing how xtians live in 3rd world and opressed nations. i wonder if their prayers sound like ours…doubt it.

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