Out of Context: Jonathan Merritt
Do younger church leaders care about evangelism?

"I have the opportunity to hang out with a number of younger evangelical influencers, and sometimes it's breathtaking how little we think about, talk about, or seem concerned with personal evangelism."

-Jonathan Merrittquoted in "Outlooks on Outreach" in the Winter 2012 issue of Leadership Journal. Check out the quote in context by subscribing to LJ in the left column.

Merritt is on the staff of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Georgia, and the author of the new book, A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars.

March 05, 2012

Displaying 1–7 of 7 comments

Darrin

September 27, 2012  4:35am

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Karen

April 01, 2012  3:13pm

Good thoughts both Tom and Becky, How pertinent to this discussion also is Jesus' teaching that the gospel of His Incarnation, life, death and resurrection, etc., and its meaning is truly knowable to the world only to the extent Christians are genuinely unified in One Body the way that Jesus prayed for (John 17:20-23)? That unity has seemingly been shattered in a number of ways over the centuries since Christ prayed His prayer, and even where dogmatic, sacramental, liturgical, and administrative unity was/is present, the profound and mystical unity in the love of the Trinity of which Christ speaks in this passage in its full spiritual wholeness has been frequently threatened and compromised by self-seeking attitudes and actions on the part of leaders and members. Sadly, given the historic realities of the time and place in which we live, effectively what is being demonstrated and presented as the Christian "gospel" in various different Christian communities are not infrequently actually opposing and contradictory visions of God in Christ. Consider some of the controversies mentioned and discussed in this blog alone. Consider also the approaches to presentation of "the gospel" and the nature of life in Christ to our youth mentioned here: http://www.outofur.com/archives/2012/03/ur_video_skye_j_2.html where in this context, arguably there is a a fair amount of doctrinal consensus (for good or ill–and personally, I think it's a little of both). I spent two years on the mission field doing campus evangelism for a Protestant denomination as a young adult. The "elephant in the room" of such efforts was the sometimes rather thinly disguised "empire building" mentality of each little different Protestant missionary group that considered itself to have a bit of an edge and a corner on the fullness of the gospel and an equally thinly disguised contempt for the more ancient church traditions–despite encounter with members from these traditions who many times exuded greater genuine warmth, generosity, joy and peace in their love for Christ and others (including us) than did we! I don't think we give up the fight for bringing our personal faith and faith communities into full conformity to the Truth for which Christ prayed in John 17 and in seeking to introduce others to the love of Christ at least to the extent that we ourselves have experienced and understood it, but it seems to me seeking a clearer understanding of what that really means is foundational to the real spiritual value and effectiveness of all our evangelistic efforts.

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Becky

March 30, 2012  2:24pm

I think that evanglism is extremely important and in the Gospel, Jesus commands the disciples to go out to the ends of the earth preaching His Name. People need God and people will not change who they are until God comes into their lives. How are they supposed to change if they have never heard or witnessed the love of God in their lives. There are lots of ways to evanglize and the smallest way is to treat others with love and respect. In a "I will mind my own business" society, showing love and compassion for others will cause someone to ask or wonder why that person is so nice. Being a friend to someone that does not believe in God another way. Showing sensitivity and respect for non Christians is another way that Christians can evanglize. Relationships are key to the start of evanglism and knowing the culture of that area as well.

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Tom F.

March 10, 2012  3:52pm

I think younger church leaders don't know what to make of evangelism. It's clear that the announcement of the good news is a big part of what Jesus talked about and told his disciples to do, and of course, that announcement calls for a response on an individual level. But the truth is that older forms of evangelism as represented by older generations are not just ineffective amongst young people, but often theological deficient and almost always inextricably intertwined with other problematic assumptions (i.e., individualism, pragmatism, radical dualism, and a lack of connection to social and community involvement). I know there are exceptions, but these exceptions don't do enough to buck the general trend, and so young people (and the people they witness to) associate evangelism with these things. We need a new vision of what "evangelism" looks like in a concrete way, that makes sense in young people's cultural contexts (but isn't captive to those contexts), and that is distinctly separate from these problematic assumptions.

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Brent

March 07, 2012  11:25pm

Interesting comment. How can we as leaders NOT be doing the basics of faith and yet encourage others to do so. Good leaders lead by example, just like Jesus did. Credibility in leadership is key and it saddens me that Merritt finds some modern leaders having so little of it. Lets step up to the plate!

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Peter

March 07, 2012  2:42am

I think we need to see more christian leaders actually put their teachings into actions. I think hypocrisy is one of the main reasons that people begin to turn away from the church. My father is an example of this, rejected the church after seeing leaders become hypocrites.

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JBen

March 05, 2012  2:21pm

It is shocking to me how much more respect I have for leaders who actually have non Christian friends and try to love them and build relationship with them and share Jesus with them. It makes me believe they actually do at least some of what they preach.

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