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