Looking Back on Easter: Methods Matter in Both Outreach and Criticism

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One of the things I enjoyed this past Easter was paying attention to how the larger Christian world celebrated the resurrection of King Jesus. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram (the platforms I have accounts with) allowed me a glimpse into how churches around my state, my country, were worshipping Jesus on Easter. It was a joy to see and join the many who were celebrating.

Yet, social media platforms have the uncanny ability to build up and tear down, to charge your batteries and drain them. Particularly draining during the days leading up to Easter was the issue of missional methods, or evangelistic endeavors, and how churches were trying to reach their communities. That issue discouraged me in two ways. First, some were employing means that seem to work against the genuine flourishing of the gospel. Second, the online debate between “supporters” and “critics” reminded me of how far we have to go in thinking through issues like this in ways that are both thoughtful and kind.

Now, my central concern in this post is to challenge both the “supporters” and the “critics.” In the end, my hope is that we are more thoughtful in the methods we employ to reach people and in how we respond to those who do things differently than we do.

Methods Matter

At the outset I want to affirm the evangelical impulse to bring people to Jesus. I’m thrilled to see Christians moving out to win the lost. At the same time, we must affirm that how we reach people certainly matters. What we win people with is what, in the end, will keep them. If people in our communities come to our churches because we’ve promised health, wealth, prosperity, or a new car, then when sickness hits, cash doesn’t flow, and the new car goes to someone else, most people will walk away. Following Jesus is hard, and when hard things come, or hard things are promised, those who don’t have the Spirit find somewhere else to go and something else to do (see John 6:66).

Simply put, we should evaluate how we do outreach. We take every thought and idea captive. Nothing is unimportant when it comes to thinking about our evangelistic endeavors. That means when you think about doing this event or employing that strategy, you should pause and consider whether or not a particular approach is actually helpful and wise.

I know it’s popular to quote D. L. Moody here, and I saw more than one person quote him this past Easter season. Sometime around the turn of the 20th century, apparently Moody told someone who questioned his evangelistic methods that he liked his way of doing it rather than their way of not doing it. That’s funny, punchy, and makes a good point. Yet, we can take that idea too far. We can throw that quote out in an attempt to try and kill honest and helpful conversation about methodology. In other words, we can use Moody to imply that conversations about missional methodology are unimportant. I do not believe that’s a good way to use Moody!

Instead, we should be able to talk about egg hunts, Easter bunnies in our churches, and a host of other things without hating one another or finding such conversations silly. The reason we should be able to discuss these things is because methods matter. Questions about whether or not we are highlighting Jesus or paying homage to the cultural captivity of one of the most important holy-days on the Christian calendar are worthwhile. Getting up in arms because someone raises an issue is just as silly as condemning every pastor and church who employs methods that are different than yours.

Read the Rest of this post over at For The Church (ftc.co).

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