Evangelical, Evangelist, and Evangelism. They are words with mixed emotions today, yet they may be precisely what the world needs at their root meaning. In its worst usage, the term evangelical is often hurled by the political left to depict a category of white males with a Christian background who voted for President Trump. Of interest, though, one Gallup study found that 61% of Non-Hispanic Blacks identified as Evangelical compared to only 38% of Non-Hispanic Whites. So an honest consideration of these terms must press further down than surface political rhetoric.
But even within professed general Christian subgroups, there appears to be debate over the help or hindrance of evangelicals. In one recent high profile podcast, the host rightly pointed out the problems with some specific individuals wearing the name evangelical. However, he was slow, even avoidant at times, to shine the light on the glory of these ancient terms. It seemed that he was not only cautious toward the title in question but also conveyed the idea that those who walked with evangelism as a priority in their lives were somehow less enlightened than more advanced thinking Christians. On a personal note, a few months ago, I was criticized by someone in this progressive camp as being a mere evangelical because I was not cheering for his chosen social issue of the day. Because I refused to jump on his societal bandwagon, I was labeled among the problems of America and the world today. For him, my prioritizing evangelical above social was a profound problem.
But maybe without straying too much, it would seem logical to step back and calmly research academically what these terms mean instead of allowing the latest social talking head to define them. In short and at root, the terms combine two Greek words conveying the idea of good news. Thus, an evangelical believes and stands on this good news. An evangelist is someone who announces this good news, and evangelism is the act of announcing that good news.
Religion brings a burden. Jesus and his work bring hope. This hope is precisely what all these words convey. On a very primordial level, all of our issues are connected to a brokenness in our hearts, our lives. The answer to that is somehow found in God and not us. The answer is found in the good news of what God did for our hearts in Jesus Christ. The hope is found in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which brings forgiveness and healing for our sins. The good news is that we can be healed from the brokenness of sin. Then, the picture gets better. Because I can have peace with God and myself, I can also have peace with the world around me. Is that not what we are looking for?
In one of the earliest occasions of this word, the Apostle Paul noted that he was not “not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” Here, the gospel is simply the English compound of the two Greek words depicting Good News or (Yuanghelidzo) – or Evangelism. The power of that statement is seen in the mysterious reality that somehow, the Jews and Gentiles of the first century were united and found peace with God and among themselves.
Their peace came not from politics, more excellent education, more money, or social enlightenment. Instead, the change in their heart came because of the transformative power of Jesus Christ. That was the good news, the gospel, the evangelism. That is what changed them and can change the human heart today.
So, yes, I am an evangelical and hope you will be one someday yourself.
How has this word touched your life?
Are you in? Are you living the life that God created you to live in such a way that eternity will be changed? Isn’t that spiritual and evangelism stuff just for preachers and professional missionaries? Or is there something more? Is it possible that we can all get in the game? Join us for the Discussions this Sunday night at 8p Central as we welcome our special guest, Tim Harlow, to the show. Tim is the senior pastor of Parkview Christian Church in south Chicago-land and author and creator of the Life on Mission Project. Over the past 25 years Christ followers from Parkview have become an indispensable part of the south Chicago community. As a team, they have touched former gang leaders, business owners, ex-strippers, and soccer moms alike. Because these simple Christians were living a life on mission, their community and world have been transformed.
How can God use someone like us to make a difference? How can regular people without a Bible College education touch their immediate sphere of influence and eventually the world? Is it really possible? Be sure to tune in here or on our Google + Sunday Night Discussions page for the live webcast. Feel free to send in questions early as we explore what it really means to fully live a life on mission. As usual, we will be giving away free resources toward the end of the show.
What does it mean to live Glocally? Like me, pastor and author, Bob Roberts Jr. has a way of creating new words and Glocalization is one of his best. I love that word and what it represents. Thinking glocally is that healthy neighborhood between touching those locally around us and those who live on the other side of the globe. What was once a near impossibility is now a present reality in our modern early 21st century world. Yes, it really is possible to engage the world no matter where we are.
What is God doing in the world today? How can we engage a globe that has gone flat with modern technology? What is the vision of Christ for his disciples in our modern times?
Join us as we look at these and other questions for the Discussions Sunday night at 8p Central. Our special guest, Bob Roberts, will be with us to answer your questions and talk about living the life of a Glocal Christian. Bob has written a number of books and we will be giving away a copy of one of them to someone listening or watching our live webcast. The show can be viewed here or on our Google + Sunday Night Discussions page. Questions can be sent in live via Google + of through email here.
So make plans to join us then and feel free to send in early questions.
World Evangelism, Global Outreach. I love those words. The truth is that I have been transformed by Jesus Christ and I have the privilege of being part of His team which makes the message of God known to the world. The truth is; we all have that same privilege and that’s exactly what we’re going to be talking about in the discussions this Sunday night. What is the real need in the world? What kind of opportunities do we have for global outreach in the early 21st century? What is the actual responsibility of Christ followers to convey that message to others? How can we see that mission carried out in our time and in the lives of those who follow us? Join us live Sunday night at 8p central as we welcome one of the big mentors in my life, Max Goins, who has served as a local pastor and foreign missionary around the world for almost 50 years. World Evangelism – Global Outreach is the ministry that Max formed in 1991 with the purpose of reaching the lost and training disciples and I can’t wait for you to meet him.
Join us here or on our Sunday Night Discussions Google + page and be sure to send in questions early. As always we will be giving away a free recourse toward the end of the show.
What does it look like to take Jesus to the cities of the 21st century? Sunday Night Discussions is back this week and we’re asking that very question. It is estimated that today over half the population of the earth lives in cities and outlying areas. This change in global demographics also touches race, ethnicity, and religion. How can the Kingdom of Heaven be advanced is this new world reality. Join Robert and me here Sunday at 8p central as we welcome Luke Greer who serves with Global Cities Initiative and the Orchard Group. Orchard has been planting churches since 1948 in New York and is now reaching out into the major cities of the world.How big of an issue is this and how can we be involved? Feel free to send questions in early via here or our Google Plus page. During the show questions and comments can be sent in via both mediums and we will be giving away a copy of Why Cities Matter by Stephen Um and Justin Buzzard toward the end of the show. Forward in the book is written by Timothy Keller. So grab a friend and plan to participate as we kick off another season of SND.
BTW for the Dallas and NY Giants fans, we will have an audience member keeping us posted on the game score.
Yup . . . it’s going to be great!