Some Random Thoughts of Evangelism

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : January 18, 2006

Earlier today, I took part in a regional gathering of InterVarsity staff.  I am the newest member of the North Central Region of InterVarsity.  I think I’m the only person from my region who has no experience with campus ministry.  I come to InterVarsity with a background in church ministry, most recently as an urban church planter (my job is to start a West Bank chapter that is a shared ministry of InterVarsity AND Missio Dei).

Many parachurch organizations grew out of the failure of the Church to engage it context missionally. The church in modernity began to compartmentalize itself, believing that it was the job description of the church to perform a set of vital functions.  Evangelism was one of these functions.  The problem was that once an organization is committed to its own survival and the care of its members, it can become very difficult to also commit people and resources to evangelism.

And hence it was largely the megachurch that showed us the way to salvation.  Resource-rich and people-rich, these large communities were able to offer differentiated professionals and volunteers to tackle the different "tasks’ of the church: evangelism, worship, teaching, pastoral care, mobilization, etc. 

In recent years, many within the Church have begun to realize that that ecclesiology is more that a set of tasks.  And many folks realized that things like community and evangelism weren’t seperate things at all.  About 10 years ago, folks began to read books like the Celtic Way of Evangelism and slowly woke up to the realization that community is an integral part in evangelism (though many folks throughout history already knew this little secret).

And so, today I found myself listeing to InterVarsity folk talking about evangelism.  InterVarsity uses a tool called a GIG (Group Investigating God) as their key evangelism tool.  These small communities of students gather to explore the Bible together.  And as much as I respect InterVarsity, they still tend to do things in a way divorced from ecclesiology.  They tend to see mission apart form ecclesia, just like Churches often see ecclesia apart from mission.  IT was evangelicalism, largely, that created parachurch organizations as a response to the Church’s failure to engage its culture missionally.  And while folks within groups like InterVarsity realize that it needs to embrace community, they haven’t really gotten to the point where they’ve embraced the Church.  I hope the sort of partnership I’ve formed with InterVarsity is a taste of things to come.


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One Response to “Some Random Thoughts of Evangelism”

  1. Dave on February 10th, 2006 12:57 pm

    Welcome to InterVarsity! I’ll be eager to hear how things go for you.

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