A lot of evangelistic zeal goes for nought because it is exercised haphazardly. James F. Engel and H. Wilbert Norton collaborated on a study of Christian communication from the standpoint of stewardship. They separate the good and the bad in their book, “What’s Gone Wrong With the Harvest?” (Zondervan, 1975), and call for “a research-based, Spirit-led strategy to reach people with the Good News and to build them in the faith.” Dr. Engel, head of the communications program at Wheaton College Graduate School, holds the Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, has taught at Ohio State and Michigan, and is the author of several standard texts in marketing and consumer behavior. Dr. Norton, dean of Wheaton College Graduate School, holds the doctorate in theology from Northern Baptist Seminary and is a veteran missionary educator, having served as a missionary to Zaire and as president of the Evangelical Free Church college and seminary. They were interviewed by Senior Editor David Kucharsky.
Kucharsky. It caused me some theological concern to read your plea for “adapting” the Bible. Is this not a rather obvious marketing approach to evangelism.
Engel. It is true that the heart of marketing is adapting to a changing consumer environment. “Marketing” has business overtones, so we do not use it. We do describe what we are doing as “adaptive” in the sense that this unchanging biblical truth is communicated to people where they are in terms they can understand.
Norton. And that makes sense to a businessman. But as a missionary I found that I also had to adapt in order to make my witness and ministry effective.
Engel. We find in church history that where the Church has been ...1
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