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Monday, August 27, 2007

The E-word

If "reaching new people" is one of the gospel imperatives that Jesus gave us (in the Great Commission) and which we as Minnesota United Methodists are specifically called to focus on, it means that we're going to have to face, discuss, and even (gulp!) do the E-word!

This summer I read a great book which I commend to you: Unbinding the Gospel: Real Life Evangelism by Martha Grace Reese. Conservative, liberal, not sure of one's theological orientation--you will find yourself in it and I believe some practical direction in how to get your mind and heart around the E-word. I think it would make a great study in our churches.

Reese says that there are people who are "evangelism lovers"--can't help but share their faith, it just flows right out of them--and "evangelism-cautious"--hence, the E-word we can't bring ourselves to say, much less do.

Evangelism-lovers are contagious in their enthusiasm; the downside is they can get too zealous and turn people off. Evangelism-cautious persons may be better listeners, but don't always come to the point in their relationship and conversation with another person to share what one believes, invite another to a deeper relationship with God, and/or even invite another person to church.

Reese has some good perspectives on evangelism. As I have always maintained, good evangelism begins with good listening, not just talking; getting to know people, not button-holing them; but also not being afraid or unable to articulate what you believe.

One of the questions that Reese suggests we all ask ourselves is, "What do you think (and I would add, feel) when you hear the word evangelism?"

WDYT: what has made you an evangelism-lover or an evangelism-cautious?

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Tragedy, trauma and traffic

Nearly everyone in Ohio emailed me or called me (as early as 6 a.m. the next morning) to find out if Ken and I were okay. Mostly I believe they wanted a way to connect with a tragedy and a trauma that didn't directly affect them. The collapse of the bridge has captured the attention of the nation over the last few days because we all drive over bridges. Many of us in Minnesota drove over that specific bridge on some kind of regular basis, if only when driving into the Twin Cities. But everyone drives a bridge somewhere. And so the collapse of this bridge is a tragedy, trauma and traffic reality for all of us, leaving us feeling (once again) very vulnerable to the fragility of life.

We remember those whose lives were lost and those who lost loved ones. We honor those who have risked their lives (physically, emotionally and spiritually) in rescue, recovery and care.

So, WDYT? What has this tragedy, trauma and traffic event elicited in you and your congregation, family, and circle of friends?