Tuesday, October 19, 2010

In Search of Evangelical Genius

We Need Innovation, Creativity, Intelligence, and Wisdom - All for the Kingdom.

The Messenger: The Mind and the Message
The Jehovah's Witnesses are killing us in one-on-one evangelism. The reason for this is that they spend hours and days thinking about how to reach their cities. In the towns that they live in, they have graphed out entire sections of the city that certain church members are responsible for trying to evangelize. They also hold workshops every week to help fine-tune their technique for spreading their beliefs. If that wasn't enough, they find ways to downsize their living conditions in order to spend less time working and more time telling people about the teachings of the Watchtower Society. The Jehovah's Witnesses are killing us in one-on-one evangelism due to persistence, thoughtfulness, and industriousness. We need to apply our thinking to our Gospel-spreading, too. Like the Jehovah's Witnesses, we need to work out and apply strategies for reaching every single person in our cities with the message of Jesus Christ - but we need to do it better than they are doing it. How can we strategize (intelligence) and create new methods (innovation) and adapt to different situations (creativity) and listen to the Spirit (wisdom) in our efforts to use our minds to spread our message to every single person in the cities that God has placed us in? How do we use our minds to help our evangelism?

The Scientist: My Father's Inventions
Forget about the dominant strain of Christian anti-intellectualism for a second. Forget that there are entire movements of people that glory in their ignorance. Stop thinking about the fact that, somewhere out there, a people exists who thinks that the mind and the use of reason is the enemy of the God who created both the mind and the faculties of reason. Forget about all of that for a second. God created the world to show us something about who He is, and science is the way that we get to explore that. So science brings God a lot of honor. It is like God, our Father, spent time coming up with inventions like stars and plants and biological mechanisms and the scientists are like the kids who explore those inventions and hold them up and say "hey, look at what my dad invented!" We need to use our minds for science so that we can also give our Inventor Father that kind of glory. Francis S. Collins (Human Genome Project) is a great example of a Christian who sees God at work in the processes of nature that scientists observe. We can also pay attention to the handiwork of God in biology, cosmology, physics, chemistry, and other scientific disciplines. We can use our minds to find God's finger prints in creation.

The Politician: My (Non?) Partisan Utopian Dream
Read the book of Leviticus in the Bible, and you realize that it is Utopian literature. It describes a perfect society. In the society of Leviticus, the common people care for the poor. The young rise in the presence of the aged. The culture is united in collective identity and worship. Laws, just and equitable, apply to each and every citizen and govern the daily lives of the Israelites. The book of Leviticus is a handbook to a perfect and (mostly) peaceful society on the earth. So maybe we need more Christians who think about Leviticus and become policy wonks and people in government who draft legislation to help run the societies of the earth. I am not talking about creating a theocracy like ancient Israel, but a fair and just society that is supported by research, guided by Biblical principles of poverty relief and individual responsibility, and not hostile to the Gospel should be within the grasp of Christians who think carefully.

The Laborer: I'll Tell You About a Carpenter
But let us not leave this thoughtful cultural and revivalism thing to the information-class workers of society, either. The construction workers and carpenters and factory workers and electricians can catch the vision of smart evangelism, reflection on God's creation, and a more just world too. We all can. Let us not get so caught up in being "smart" that we forget about the most intelligent and wise man to ever walk the earth - our carpenter savior, Jesus Christ. And let's not forget that His disciples (the Apostles and our fathers in the faith) were mostly working class fishermen and uneducated Galileans. In all of this talk about innovation and creativity and wisdom, we should probably keep in mind that the people who will make most of the real progress will be the tradesmen who can build things and can use their skills to reach more people than the academics would ever be able to. God seems pleased to use the laborers and the guys who do not only have book knowledge but practical knowledge as well to get things done. Do not forget that Jesus was a carpenter... and so might most of our real innovators be.

1 comment:

  1. you know, somebody once compared me to a JW... I didn't think it was a complement.


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