Have Missions Forgotten their Purpose?

From Brent McCracken’s recent post at Relevant magazine about what he sees as a renewed need for old-school evangelism in mission work:

I’m all for social justice. I’m passionate about it. Christians have to be serving people and loving them not just in word but in deed. But man, if I hear another well-fed, Toms-wearing evangelical kid quote St. Francis (“preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words”) one more time as a justification for their unwillingness to utter a word to anyone about Christ as the one true hope, I don’t know what I’ll do.

It’s an ongoing debate in missiology: Should missionaries in foreign countries prioritize meeting physical needs (food, water, social justice, development) before they preach the gospel, or should evangelism always be given primacy?

To me, the debate is silly. Can’t we do both simultaneously? Can’t we serve others and meet their circumstantial needs while at the same time telling them about Jesus? Yes, we should be in Africa building water wells, or in Haiti building schools, but what’s the harm in mentioning along the way that we are Christians acting as the church, loving the world because God loved it?

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Discrimination Pays

Got a strong hatred for a faith other than your own?  Forget finding tolerance; find a book agent!  Richard Bartholomew writes today that a new book, Islam is of the Devil, has hit the shelves.  Its opportunistic author, Terry Jones, is pastor of Dove World Outreach in Florida.  Yes, the same church that sponsored, “Burn a Koran Day” last month.  (Read Daniel Schultz’ post for The Revealer on the kind of evangelism that Jones and his church are practicing.)  You could say that Jones knows his audience and has worked to build a platform for selling the book.  The mystery is why they’re buying it.  For some answers, follow our series on Shari’ah here. Continue Reading →

But is it Evangelism?

by Daniel Schultz

A church down in Gainesville is planning to hold an “International Burn A Quran Day” on 9/11, part of its larger “Islam is of the Devil” campaign. The pastor talks about the point of the event in an interview with the Friendly Atheist:

Do you think Muslims will turn to Christ as a result of this?
This is our prayer and desire that they would seriously reexamine their religion. They will then come to the conclusion that Islam is of the devil and Christianity is the only true religion.

Have any of the media reports of this event portrayed you unfairly or inaccurately? Would you like to set the record straight on any particular issue?
We have been accused of being racist. We are not attacking a race. In other words, we are not attacking the Moslem. We love the Moslems and hope that they would come to true salvation. What we are attacking is Islam, the religion, and Sharia law, the political system.

This leads Cathy Lynn Grossman at USAToday’s Faith and Reason blog to ask, “Is it evangelism?”* Continue Reading →