Con Campbell is a man of diverse talents: he is a respected jazz musician, a world class New Testament scholar, and a gifted communicator. He was an artist before he was a Christian. All these things make him one of the best people I can think of to write a book on evangelism and the artist. (more…)
Geoff Robson has just written about the contact he had with a man called Russel that changed his life:
The Russell I’ve been thinking about is a man who changed my life. But I don’t even know his last name, and I met him just once more than 15 years ago.
I met Russell in the food court at Westfield Miranda – not usually a venue for life-changing encounters. I’d just finished lunch and was heading for the escalator when Russell politely stopped me and asked if we could chat. Russell was a Christian, and he wanted to talk to me about Jesus.
But I wasn’t interested.
Go read the whole story. It’s a really encouraging read.
Africa is a beautiful continent. There is stunning scenery—the mountains, valleys and lakes of the Rift Valley—and world-famous wildlife. It is also poorer and much less developed than in the West. The majority of people live in villages. There is a shorter life expectancy, and a tragically high incidence of HIV-AIDS. It is less politically stable than countries like Australia. But, most significantly, sub-Saharan Africa is one of the most Christian places on earth! (more…)
St Patrick’s Day is a Saint’s day. There is nothing wrong with celebrating saint’s days, though there is nothing particularly right either. As our Apostle says: “One man esteems one day as better than another while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind” (Romans 14:5).
Legendary stories make it hard to know the truth about early saints. We do not know anything about some saints, like St Valentine, and what we know about other famous ones, like St Nicholas, is contradictory and confusing. Even for some Biblical saints there is very little information, like St Matthias or St Bartholomew. (more…)
When John Chapman came to your church in the 1970s, it was like the evangelical circus had come to town. I don’t mean that it was entertainment (though he was gripping) or that there were clowns (though he was hilarious) or even that it was a spectacle (though he was larger than life). I mean that it was the best day of the year. (more…)
While not exactly Chappo’s words, “The first 50 lessons are the hardest” is more than a faint echo of something we often heard him say. I’m going to share with you something of Chappo’s legacy in the area of evangelistic practice. He taught me at least 50 lessons. Here are my top ten.
I’m a mum with three children (7, 6, and 3) and, like most mums I know, I’m bogged down with the minutiae of life and suffering from constant tiredness. Since having children, my prayer life and quiet times have been whittled down to a minimum, so the thought of evangelism hasn’t been high on my agenda. Getting through each day without a trip to the doctor or to Accident and Emergency has taken priority! (more…)
Thabiti Anyabwile, on lessons he’s learning having committed himself to doing the work of an evangelist, along with a story of the same:
Second, I’m learning again that faithful evangelism requires putting to death the fear of man. Will I ever stop having that halting tightness in my chest? Will those hesitation-inducing thoughts of rejection and offense ever fade away? You know, probably not. I’m likely to always feel some hesitation and some fear of man when it comes to evangelism. But what am I going to do? Not share the greatest news the world has ever received? No. I’m going to remember Romans 1:16, Philemon 6, and Hebrews 10:38-39, and other such texts which encourage, admonish, promise, and guide.
Just like every time I hear about personal evangelism, I’m equal parts encouraged and challenged.
My experience of Christians is that many of them – including me – are really quite clumsy. Not literally stumbling or falling over ourselves, but often doing the social equivalent. We put our feet in our mouths, we make others feel uncomfortable, we have a knack of saying the right thing at the wrong time, and vice versa.
Let me say this. I hope that none of my friends dismiss the Christian message simply because of my clumsiness. I pray they’ll put up with some of my mistakes, my awkwardness, even my selfishness, and hypocrisy… and look beyond me to Jesus.
I also appreciate his reflections on dealing with his lung cancer, such as this post on body image.
When I first arrived in Sydney in 1981 as a keen young curly-haired Christian from country NSW, I knew nothing about expository preaching or house-parties or quiet times or the importance of things being ‘helpful’, or any of the other commonplaces of modern evangelicalism. (more…)
I have been arguing that sometimes we fail to realize that some things we think are just western are actually Christian, and we have been shaped by thinkers who worked in an at-least-vaguely-Christian milieu. Let us take an example; a theological issue current in missiological literature. Above, when I was discussing the way people from shame-cultures understand the gospel, I mentioned that very often they see the work of Christ in terms of his humiliation, shame and exaltation. Might we then, when we commend Christ to people from such cultures, explain the gospel in those categories?1 Do we need a new version of Two Ways to Live that is better contextualized? There are many good reasons to do so; not least of which is that the Bible itself understands Christ’s work in this way sometimes (eg. Is 53:3, Ps 25:3, Rom 9:33, 1 Pet 2:6). Christ has dealt with our shame as much as our guilt. He has exalted the humble, and destroyed the proud. In many ways this is a fantastic example of the way people from other cultures can help us to see better what is there in Scripture that our own culture has made us blind to. Even making this observation will be a big step forward in speaking with people of shame-based cultures about the gospel. (more…)
Having made the observation that what is rational in one culture is often weak and irrational in another, as Christian evangelists, we are left in awkward place. On the one hand, when we speak as missionaries to people of other cultures—whether in Egypt or Hyde Park—we probably want to be understood. We feel like we should commend the gospel to them in a way that will appeal to their rationality, using arguments that will be convincing to them. After all, do we not want to become all things to all men so that by all means we will win some (1 Cor 9:22)? (more…)
Over the last couple of days we’ve been thinking about the idea that what we call rationality is actually, in part, cultural, and so different cultures will have different rationalities. One example of the difference between rationalities came across starkly in a public Christian-Islam debate I attended recently in Melbourne. It was done well. It was set up as an irenic dialogue about the differences in our ideas of God. The two participants were allowed to speak freely, and each responded respectfully to the other side. But in the end it was most valuable as an exercise in how difficult cross-cultural communication can be sometimes. I don’t pretend to be a dispassionate observer, but for my part I was impressed with the way the Christian debater engaged. He was soft-spoken and difficult to provoke. His arguments were careful, they relied on firm evidence, and he was very measured in his statements. If he didn’t know something, he said so. He committed only to say what he could demonstrate. And he wasn’t afraid to acknowledge that his opponents made good points from time to time. For the most part, I found his case compelling. (more…)