This week and next I am reviewing The Great Giveaway: Reclaiming the Mission of the Church from Big Business, Parachurch Oganizations, Psychotherapy, Consumer Capitalism and Other Modern Maladies by David Fitch.
CHapter two of the book is entitled,
Evangelism - Saving Souls Beyond Modernity: How Evangelism Can Save the Church and Make It "Relevant" Again
Fitch relates how many seminarians come to him with a class assignment to find a non-Christian and tell them the gospel. They become frustrated since they don't know anyone outside their seminary or church. Fitch then talks about the individualism of our evangelism methods, relying on people to make this life-changing decision after hearing a "gospel presentation" of mere minutes. To the postmodern generation, this type of evangelism doesn't make sense because of the differences in what moderns and postmoderns think truth is. The postmodern sees how we have too many times separated the gospel message from gospel living.
Fitch then presents how postmoderns are not as impressed with science as moderns are, incluidng Chrisitans. Presenting "evidence" for Bible truths doesn't mean as much to postoderns as to previous generations of evangelicals. As for the seeker sensitive churches, Fitch writes, "If postmodern culture is for real, seeker services are running out of time. The next generation seeks community over anonymity and is overdosed on consumer appeals to felt needs."
Fitch then tackles the question that needs to be asked of the emergent church. How do we make sense of the Christian claim that 'Jesus Christ is Lord?' in a postmodern world where old ways to truth have broken down? His answer is to stop individualizing the gospel and invite non-believers to participate in something larger than themselves in the kingdom of God in Christ. And as with most emergents, Fitch also believes churches need to relate the gospel as a story in the larger context of history. He asks for evangelicals to be witnesses who relate testimony of what they've seen and experienced instead of combatant coercive techniques to bring people to Christ. When the church community is living the sanctified life, then we can say to the non-believer, "Come and see."
The task of witness is not to argue or contend for universal meta-proofs but to live truth so deeply and sufficiently that it throws alternative worlds into "epistemic crises.
The basis for a compelling Christian account of salvation in postmodernity is a changed life among a living community of Christ.
To achieve this, Fitch says we must connect to the stranger in the marketplace.
What is our marketplace? The work place, the school, the neighborhood, market, club, league and so forth.
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