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The E word
by Estee in

Has this ever happened to you: you are driving along on the highway, minding your own business, listening to your favorite station when out of nowhere someone in a huge hurry flies around you and cuts you off so that they can continue to drive 20 miles over the speed limit without hitting their brakes? For some reason, I feel like this happens to me often and it drives me nuts. What really really bothers me about many of these encounters however, is the subtle car jewelry that some of the speed-crazed drivers have attached to their cars. You know what I'm talking about. Sometimes the worst drivers have a shiny Christian fish glinting off their back bumper.

What's the deal with that! What kind of message can someone possibly think they are sending by professing to be one way but acting in a completely opposing manner?

I was reading a post by Dan Dick about such things as putting shiny fish on your bumper. He says that doing this is a form of "passive evangelism," a display of faith that doesn't require any type of dialogue or discussion. Just an obvious symbol of affiliation. Most people like this kind of evangelism - it doesn't require anything of them. It allows them to say stuff like "yeah, people know I'm a Christian because I wear this cross necklace all the time." Um, maybe . . .

Another type of evangelism that he talks about (you can read the whole article if you want http://doroteos2.wordpress.com/2009/05/26/evangelisnt/) is representational evangelism, which basically means that a committee or group at a church does evangelism on behalf of the whole group.

It seems like most people think evangelism is a bad word. To be honest, I used to think so too. It made me think of the people who stand in front of the movie theater in Sundance Square and hand out tracts.

But I've learned that there is a difference between evangelism and evangelicalism. Evangelism is about sharing good news. Its about habits and speech and action. Evangelicalism is a certain group of Protestant Christians with particular convictions. Evangelicals are often really good at doing evangelism, they aren't scared to speak their minds, but sometimes they are way too pushy, which gives most of us a bad taste in our mouths for evangelism.

But evangelism doesn't have to be pushy. It doesn't have to be passive either, like putting a fish on your bumper. It can be authentic and transformative. It has the potential to change lives and change hearts. The hard part is getting to this point, moving from "representational evangelism" to authentic evangelism that one engages in without even trying. The kind of evangelism that happens when you simply live and act and speak from the heart of your Christianity. For this, I think there has to be a cultural shift in our churches. I'm just still trying to figure out how we can help get the ball rolling.


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