Compassion and Evangelism

I appreciate these words by Lesslie Newbigin from his book, A Word in Season.

“In the old days we used to do a lot of street preaching.  I have done a lot of it myself, and I believe in it.  I cannot accept the view that would seek to downgrade evangelism.  …If you do not want to share [your faith] with others, it is not your real faith.”

“But – and this is a big ‘but’ – no one is going to listen to your evangelism unless he sees that it comes out of a fellowship that cares.  Too much of our evangelism has not met that test.  I must confess that as I look back on my younger days as a missionary, there have been too many times when I have gone with a band of friends to preach in the streets of some town or village, perhaps made some contacts, but then gone home to a good supper and a comfortable bed without being really involved with these people to whom I had preached, without sharing the burden of their hunger and their despair.”

“…People should be able to see that being a member of a Christian congregation means caring for your neighbors as surely as it means sharing in the worship and in the ministry of the Word and sacraments – indeed that the Word and sacraments of the gospel are emptied of their meaning if they are not part of the life of a caring congregation. …The Word and sacraments of the gospel are denatured when they are domesticated within the walls of a congregation that lives only for itself.”

Lesslie Newbigin, A Word in Season (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994), 34, 36-37.

shane lems

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