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Micael Grenholm, a Swedish charismactivist, apologist and author.

Micael Grenholm, a Swedish charismactivist, apologist and author.

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Suicidal Churches

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Imagine a church that never prays. No Sunday service or other kind of church meeting include prayer, and when asked about it the church leaders say: “Well, people are free to pray when they’re at home, but we don’t believe that everyone are called to be ‘prayer warriors’.” Would you view such a church as healthy or functioning?

Or imagine a church that never reads the Bible. Its leaders say “Well, we once did that but we didn’t get much out of it, we weren’t actually living biblically just because we read the Bible.” Would you think that such a practice and explanation were acceptable?

See, this is how millions of churches treat evangelism. Rather than doing it officially as a church on public places, it is delegated to church members’ private initiatives – which usually are very rare. Some churches say that they tried street evangelism and it “didn’t work”, so now they want to encourage “relational evangelism” by simply exhorting their members to tell people about Jesus and offer no training whatsoever to teach them how to do so.

This is scandalous and an abomination to the Lord. There is nothing He wants individual Christians to do that He doesn’t want the whole church as a body to do. And not only are churches that never evangelise disobeying His command to preach the Gospel to all nations, they’re also committing suicide. (more…)

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How Can the Jesus Army Grow?

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Jesus People at the RAW youth event

As you probably should know by now from reading my previous posts, I think that a certain British church called Jesus Army is amazing. Since it combines Bible-believing, charismatic discipleship with community of goods and care for the poor, it is one of the most Biblical churches I know of. The more people who join this church and/or adapt its model of charismatic community building, the better. But how, then, can it grow? Here are my three suggestions:

1. More Public Evangelism

The apostolic church in Jerusalem didn’t just experience miracles and practise community of goods, they also evangelised every day in the temple courts (Acts 2:46, 5:20, 42) as I’ve written about several times before. This can be adapted in various ways today: evangelism on the internet, in shopping malls, outside of mosques, on the streets, handing out leaflets, preaching, showing a drama, serving free pancakes, offering prayer for healing… God loves when we present the Gospel creatively!

However, since the evangelism of the early church was public and corporal, it cannot really be equated with private evangelism that an individual performs to his or her friends and family. I often meet the idea that this would be more effective than public, corporal evangelism, but it is very problematic to view Jesus’ and the apostles’ model for evangelism as ineffective, and it mostly has anecdotic rather than empirical support. Research shows that evangelistic activity is one of the most important things churches can do in order to grow, which is about as surprising as the scientific discoveries of fuel promoting vehicles to drive or consumption of food promoting human survival.

Since corporate, public evangelism is not just about reaching out but also about training disciples, people get more equipped to share the Gospel in other settings as well if they get evangelistic training by the church. Thus, there is no reason to say that we should cut back on public evangelism to promote friendship evangelism, because public evangelism already promotes friendship evangelism.

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Why Both Conservative and Liberal Churches are Decreasing

Rachel Held Evans (photo from Wikipedia)

Rachel Held Evans (photo from Wikipedia)

Evangelical blogger and author Rachel Held Evans is no longer evangelical; she has joined the Episcopalian church which, in the US, is not very theologically conservative but rather progressive or liberal. This isn’t very surprising since Evans has been very critical to evangelical theology as well as evangelical views on politics, women, the LGBT community etc.

In an interview that has been published in several media, including Sojourners, Evans names these progressive values along with sacramental church life as being the reason she joined Episcopalianism. She’s also asked to comment the fact that the Episcopalian church is rapidly losing church attendees, to which she responds:

Just about every denomination in the American church — including many evangelical denominations — is seeing a decline in numbers, so if it’s a competition, then we’re all losing, just at different rates… Lately I’ve been wondering if a little death and resurrection is exactly what the American church needs… A church might produce thousands of attendees without producing any disciples.

This is quite remarkable, since the point of one of Evans’ most famous articles on CNN’s Belief Blog is that evangelical churches must become more liberal to stop millenials from leaving them. This is a similar argument to John Shelby Spong‘s famous thesis that Christianity must change or die. A former bishop in Evans’ new church, Spong argued that this change includes stop believing in theism, stop beliving in the supernatural, stop believing that prayer is useful and stop believing in physical resurrection. Pretty ridiculous. Evans is far from this extreme, but her reasoning in the CNN article was similar: liberal Christianity is necessary for church growth.

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