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               Divine Liturgy 10:30 AM

Wednesdays: Divine Liturgy 7:00 PM


The Problem With Personal Evangelism

PEThe notion of personal evangelism (PE) is the fruit of a poisonous tree. Yet one so appealing that Christians love to eat from it.

The poisonous tree is theology of the Radical Reformation which jettisoned the formal church, its Services and Sacraments; in a quest to purify the Christian religion of assumed defects, thus the moniker Puritan.

Rather than allow people to enter the church, and there find salvation by God’s normal means: Divine Liturgy/Word & Sacrament, the PE enterprise runs in its own track alongside the church. Rendering it at best “para-church,” and not church. It may have a religious message that it embezzled from the true church, but a very weak one. PE claims, and maybe genuinely thinks and hopes, that its goal is to bring people into the actual church. The place where by her normal procedures people can factually become disciples of Jesus and live forever. But anecdotes aside that rarely happens.

The normal route into Christ in the mature church is for parents to bring their children for baptism, worship, catechesis, Eucharist and a life of sanctification. There are other times of entry – most commonly young adults bring a girlfriend, boyfriend, or fiancé into the church. Friends have also been known to bring friends or other family members. This is less common but they are bringing people into the church (not the para-church) where the God-given regular means of life and salvation are imparted.

A similar but additional problem obtains when a parish uses a program or a gimmick ( designed to attract visitors, and grow the church. One which always teaches the church that she must change her procedures – by which she forfeits her very substance and is no longer church. Or if church then living beneath the spiritual poverty line. Feeding gruel to her old children as well as to her new (of which there are precious few, and who expect nothing more than gruel.)

PE also pre-supposes decision theology, and instant conversion. But there is no such thing as a simple or quick understanding of the Holy Christian Religion, mystery of all mysteries.

In all such ventures the other false assumption is that the Holy Spirit is asleep in the boat. That he is not calling enough people, quickly enough for our imagined metric (which is usual the church checkbook). But it is the Lutheran faith that the Holy Spirit calls. The Holy Spirit gathers. The Holy Spirit enlightens. The Holy Spirit sanctifies. He does not need our help, nor are we his means. The Word and Sacraments are his means which only need be competently ministered in the church to which the Spirit brings people “when and where he wills.” (AC, V)

And this is the so-called “great commission.” To be the church to which the Holy Spirit has been bringing people for thousands of years. (Mt. 5:37)









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