Out of Context: Ken Fong

"The old paradigm of evangelism was a transactional sharing of the gospel. I would try to get people to intellectually agree with me. But the new paradigm is different, an approach in which I invite you to walk alongside me, examine my life, and see evidence of the truth, and hopefully there will be something compelling that you see. It's a no-strings-attached invitation to enter my life as I follow Jesus."

-Ken Fong is the senior pastor of Evergreen Baptist Church of Los Angeles. Taken from "5 Kinds of Christians" in the Fall 2007 issue of Leadership journal. To see the quote IN context, you'll need to see the print version of Leadership. To subscribe, click on the cover of Leadership on this page.

December 05, 2007

Displaying 1–10 of 11 comments

Darren King

December 11, 2007  6:38pm

Eric, what worked for you might not work for the average person. No one's saying the method that worked for you is completely bankrupt, just that a new approach is needed for the masses raised in a postmodern culture.

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eric Blauer

December 10, 2007  8:38pm

I got saved reading a simple gospel track when I was 15, over 25 years ago. Sometimes the simplicity of the gospel is all that is needed.

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Darren King

December 09, 2007  12:08am

Melody, The point is that in today's postmodern, post-Christian culture, the Billy Graham approach really doesn't fly. No one's saying it didn't have an effect in Billy's era, its just that times have changed. In a post-Christian culture people are working under a different paradigm- and the quick fix of a tv gospel crusade is, more often than not, not going to seem irrelevant. New times call for a new approach. The truth doesn't change- just how we communicate it.

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eric Blauer

December 08, 2007  2:15pm

Seems like this paradigm makes the gospel about me and not Christ. I'm not sure if I desire to share the gospel of me. And if you do think you are a good gospel to proclaim, I wonder if you truly understand the biblical gospel in the first place.

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Melody

December 06, 2007  7:24pm

So would joe equate Billy Graham with a slick, used car salesman? And are the people who responded to the message proclaimed by BG not really followers of Jesus because they didn't know Billy personally? If everyone who responded to the gospel through his ministry (and that of others) had to be a personal friend then I suspect that the message wouldn't have gotten very far. Certainly God expects us to live an exemplary life so that others may come to know Him, but that is not the only way. Hi Mike.

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Tim

December 06, 2007  5:44pm

This is well said, however, Ken is the main leader of an institutional church. Systemically, the IC spends millions of dollars and man hours to get unbelievers inside the church walls to hear the right words from the hired expert. "Seeker sensitive" issues are a big push to make the pew a key evangelism site. God's people are more than willing to pour in the $ to make this the focal point of evangelism so they "feel" exempt from needing to be do the hard work of "walking along side" someone who is lost. Until the system is challenged for it's flaws, the majority of saints will be witness-lazy. Our previous church poured $8mil. into a double-sized gym so unbelievers could would "feel comfortable" doing stuff at the IC and hear the good news. Does this huge investment help "walk-alongside-evangelism"? No, it distracts from it. They have outsourced their calling to the sports minister.

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Kevin Derr

December 06, 2007  9:07am

This is a powerful approach to the thinking about evangelism. It also subjects the life of the evangelist to the test of authenticity. If the life of the evangelist isn't what he or she proclaims,the message will will not ring true. I suspect there will be much opposition to this line of thinking, because in truth many of us find it easier to say the words, push the decision than to walk the message we have proclaimed. Peace, Kevin

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Josh

December 05, 2007  1:59pm

I agree with the quote. However, the gospel, in parallel with your lifestyle, still needs to be proclaimed with initiative like how Christ did with the Samaritan women (John 4), Zacchaeus (Luke 19) and how Philip did with the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8). We have to watch that the paradigms don't shift to the extremes. The gospel, not necessarily the lifestyle, is the power of salvation (Romans 1:16). A lifestyle should compliment the gospel we are proclaiming.

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joe

December 05, 2007  12:02pm

evangelism is finally moving from the slick used car salesman approach. it is great to see that evangelism, as a way of life, is catching on. you are an evangelist because you are a follower of christ. your life cant help but tell the story of Jesus. instead of selling something, friendships are made. the love of christ is then observed and told through the way they see you live and love. it seems to be the way of Jesus.

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Darren King

December 05, 2007  10:18am

All good. I agree, this is the new and more holistic approach. A powerful saying is: "Show me how you live and I'll tell you what you believe." The only thing I'd add is that, while we walk alongside others, we also must choose to be open to learn from the life of the other. In other words, it is two-way street. Dialigue and friendship, when real, is about mutual respect and sharing. And sometimes we end up being surprised where we find Jesus, and who teaches us about him.

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